Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Questions without Notice
Minister for Home Affairs
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to revelations in the media that the Minister for Home Affairs' ability to cancel criminal visas is being challenged in the Federal Court because of serious doubts about his eligibility under section 44 of the Constitution. Given that all sides of politics support cancelling the visas of dangerous criminals and deporting them, will the Prime Minister now refer the Minister for Home Affairs to the High Court to remove any doubt over the minister's decisions?
I'm asked about cancellation of visas by the member. I can inform the House that the Minister for Home Affairs does not have responsibility for the cancelling of visas. That power is actually held by the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs. The shadow minister may wish to pay attention when ministries are announced, because these things are set out very clearly.
But I'm asked about cancellation of visas. It is very true—absolutely true—that this government has cancelled the visas of 3,000 criminals. As minister I cancelled them. Other ministers cancelled them. Bikies, murderers, rapists—we cancelled their visas. I remember when the member for McMahon and the member for O'Connor were ministers for immigration. I remember that when I became the minister for immigration, one of the first issues that was raised with me was about a certain Australian—he wasn't an Australian, actually. He was a visa holder. They never like me talking about Alex Vella.
On direct relevance. I've waited for there to be substantial time for a preamble. The question is not a general question about visa cancellation. It goes specifically to the serious matter of making sure that cancellations that have been made by the Minister for Home Affairs have full legal protection and then asks whether a High Court referral will be made to be able to clear that up. It is not a general question in the way the Prime Minister's answering it.
I'll rule before I call the Prime Minister back to the dispatch box. I listened carefully to the question. I appreciate the point the Manager of Opposition Business is seeking to make. The member for Blair did refer to newspaper articles about the cancellation of visas. That was certainly my recollection of it—unless the Manager of Opposition Business wants to say otherwise?
I appreciate the point the Manager of Opposition Business is trying to make. I don't judge the factual accuracy of questions, but I don't mind pointing out it's not the Prime Minister's power to refer anyone to the High Court; it's this House's power. I'm not going to nitpick, but, given that that was in the question and the Prime Minister very early on referred to the minister for immigration, I think he's still in order. Simply: in the three minutes, the Prime Minister needs to remain relevant to the topics asked in the question, and I think there were two topics that were asked. The Prime Minister has the call.
I was referring, again, to cancellation of visas, and I made the very clear point that under our government the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs is responsible for visa cancellations. He is the one within the government who has responsibility. And it's true that I used to be the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and that one of the first issues that was brought to my attention was a certain Alex Vella, the president of the Rebels bikie gang. I cancelled his visa, and he's never come back to these shores. That started a long list of actions by our government to ensure that we did the right thing on visas.
When I cancelled Alex Vella's visa when he was away from Australia, ensuring that he could not return, it became very well known to me that this was a matter that authorities had been seeking governments to take action on for some time. I know for a fact that the former ministers for immigration never had the decision to take to cancel that visa, and nor did I. Do you know what I had to do? I had to ask for it. I said I wanted to see the cancellation papers for Alex Vella's visa, and so I took that decision. You on that side could have taken that decision. You didn't. You squibbed it. That's why Australians cannot trust the Labor Party when it comes to immigration and border protection. Australians can trust the coalition when it comes to—
Mr Dreyfus interjecting—
defending our national security. That's why we're going to introduce temporary exclusion orders that mean foreign fighters will not be able to come back into this country unless it's on our terms. We're taking the right decisions on national security— (Time expired)