Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Questions without Notice
I thank the honourable member for his question. The government does have a bill before the parliament now. It is absolutely essential that it be supported. It is regrettable that the Leader of the Opposition has indicated that Labor, in their latest demonstration of weakness on border protection, have said that they will not support this bill. The only reason the Leader of the Opposition has offered up is that somehow, in 40 years time—in his own words—somebody could apply for a tourist visa from a third country somewhere else. That is denying the reality that we face today. The bill is introduced now because of threats that we face now from people smugglers. The fact is that 14,000 people are on boats in Indonesia ready to come to our country now. This is not some hypothetical about what happens in 40 years time. Somehow the Leader of the Opposition is worried about whether someone, in four decades, can travel on a visa to come to our country.
Dr Aly interjecting
It is a complete nonsense, and it is a fabrication. But there are many other reasons, and I refer to media reports in The Daily Telegraph and other News Ltd newspapers today about fake marriages, to get to Australia. I can confirm that my department is aware of a number of illegal maritime arrivals from Iran who have entered into relationships with Australian citizens. A number have accepted assisted voluntary returns to go back to Iran and have subsequently entered Australia on prospective marriage visas. I am advised by my department that there are six known cases of illegal maritime arrivals—
Opposition members interjecting—
Well, they stop at six. Let me give you the detail and see how serious you are then. There are six known cases from Iran, marrying Australian citizens employed by the department's service providers on Manus Island. This suggests that they may be organised in this scheme to exploit marriage pathways to Australia. There is no information that a similar scheme is operating on Nauru, I am pleased to report.
Two of the transferees are known to have accepted one of the packages, around $7,000, to return to Iran. Two of the people who have accepted packages have subsequently entered Australia on prospective marriage visas. What we demonstrate is that people are entering into arrangements, they are subverting processes at the moment, and this government is moving to act against them. We are not going to allow people smugglers or people that enter into sham arrangements to rip off the Australian taxpayer or to rip off the generosity of the Australian people. We offer record numbers of refugees places in this country—
The shadow minister interjects. He has not asked a question since he has been in the portfolio, such is his gravitas—not one question, not even today when they are proclaiming some sort of high ground on this policy. The Leader of the Opposition is standing against this policy because of some fantasy of 40 years. He needs to stand up and be counted. (Time expired)