House debates

Monday, 18 February 2019

Questions without Notice

National Security

2:35 pm

Photo of Andrew HastieAndrew Hastie (Canning, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney-General update the House on how weaker border security will impact our justice system?

Photo of Christian PorterChristian Porter (Pearce, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question, because he knows, as anyone who reads the legislation knows, that the Labor legislation radically reduces the minister's power to exclude people from Australia on character grounds. That is unequivocally true. Listen to what a senior Labor frontbencher is quoted as having said:

The children in our party who believe in fairytales have to be stopped. National security is just too important to be allowed to be run by children. We have got to ensure the minister retains the unequivocal discretion to override the doctors.

That unequivocal discretion is now gone—terminated, ended, removed—from Australian law. We only needed to see the Opposition leader's performance in a doorstop today, where he looked into the camera and said that there was no change, nothing to see here, only a codification of the law, and then in the very next sentence celebrated the major change by saying that, instead of listening to the minister and the minister being in charge, 'We will have to listen to the doctors.' Now, the fact is that having the doctors ultimately in charge rather than the minister is a very significant change.

That is not a codification of the existing law. That is a very, very significant change. And if there's no change, why was it that last week those members opposite were clapping themselves and waving to the cheers in the gallery? Were we celebrating no change? Were we celebrating a mere codification of the law? What were we celebrating. Whether or not you think that the significant change is a reason for celebration is an interesting question, but clearly there was a significant change. The change is this: now, two doctors control the process. They don't need to be on location and they don't need to see the patient; they merely need to agree that the patient come to Australia for further analysis. They conduct a narrow clinical inquiry. They do not consider security matters.

The facts are these: in practice, what that means is that if someone were trying to enter Australia on a working holiday visa and we had credible intelligence based information, for instance, that they'd been going on social media and liking numerous photos and videos that depicted violence, shootings, bombings or dead bodies, the minister would have the unequivocal discretion to refuse that person entry to Australia. If, in precisely those same circumstances, someone in a Labor medical transfer had the same information drawn to the attention of the minister, the minister now no longer has the discretion to exclude that person from Australia. That is a major change.

If you want to know how badly drafted these laws were—notwithstanding that there are lawyers on the other side of parliament—a 16-year-old applicant for an orphaned relative visa who wants to come to live with relatives in Australia has a higher— (Time expired)