House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022


Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021; Second Reading

6:01 pm

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to restate Labor's longstanding position on the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021. Labor has consistently engaged in good faith with the government to amend this bill and its predecessors. In 2014, Labor supported changes to the Migration Act moved by the Abbott government to strengthen the character test, introduce mandatory visa cancellations for foreign nationals who served a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, and provide further discretionary powers to the minister to cancel a visa. These measures brought Australia into line with other countries. Since 2018 the government has proposed further changes, which are contained in this bill. For the past four years, with three immigration ministers and through three Senate inquiries, we have raised our concerns time and time again.

To be clear, we have three main concerns with this bill: the risk of low-level offending being captured by the cancellation regime, the retrospectivity in cancellation, and the significant and corrosive impact this bill has on our relationship with New Zealand. As the bill stands, it does not adequately address these concerns, and we will be seeking to deal with these matters by way of amendments in the Senate. This bill and its prior iterations have sat on the Notice Paper for almost 1,200 days. The government has had ample time to get this right. The shadow minister, Senator Keneally, has written to the many ministers. The shadow minister has met with the current minister. They even reached an agreement, only for him to tear up the deal. The minister is yet to explain what it is that he wishes to be able to do that he cannot do already. As the Novak Djokovic debacle shows, the Migration Act already gives the immigration minister godlike powers. The minister can cancel the visa of anyone who is or might be a risk to Australians and to our society.

I want to briefly set out Labor's concerns on those three areas, firstly turning to retrospectivity. The imposition of a mandatory failure of the character test would apply to people who have been convicted at any point in the past. Some of these individuals will have lived in Australia for decades with no recent criminal history. A number will previously have been considered by the minister or the department and been determined through that process to pass the character test. The bill introduces a form of double jeopardy in relation to visa cancellation. In raising this retrospectivity concern, Labor notes a recommendation regarding retrospectivity in a December 2017 report issued by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, then chaired by now Assistant Minister Jason Wood, recommending that any changes to the mandatory visa cancellation regime 'be accompanied by a caveat that no retrospective liability is thereby created'.

There is also the issue of the treatment of low-level offending. A person could be subject to discretionary visa cancellation under this bill but not under existing law where they have been convicted of a designated offence but the conduct is such that it could not reasonably support a suspicion that the person is not of good character. This could include, for example, a conviction for assault for grasping a person by the sleeve. The minister did come some way with his amendments to the last bill, which I acknowledge. I do note that these have been incorporated into this bill. But, unlike the existing definition of substantial criminal record in section 501 of the Migration Act—a person sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more—the test this bill applies is not the actual sentence served. To ensure consistency across the act and to address issues identified by various stakeholders regarding low-level offending, Labor requests that the government agree to amend the bill to use the existing substantial criminal record definition within section 501.

I want to turn to the issues that go to our relationship with our good friends in New Zealand. The New Zealand government has said that this bill would make a bad situation worse for New Zealanders and, therefore, New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has publicly described the impact of cancellation as 'corrosive'. High Commissioner King wrote to the Senate inquiry expressing serious concerns about the bill and rushed inquiry process and the disproportionate impact these amendments may have on the hundreds of thousands of New Zealand citizens living and working in Australia. Previously, the government of New Zealand raised concerns about the retrospectivity provisions of the bill and the deportation of people who arrived in Australia as young children. Critically, they have repeatedly pointed to the corrosive effect that Australia's visa cancellation and deportation policies have had on bilateral relations. Nothing in this bill attempts to address the valid concerns raised by the New Zealand government, nor has the government taken steps to repair strained relations with one of our closest neighbours. These are priorities for Labor, which is why we have requested a detailed review of the ministerial directions, with regard given to the impact of visa cancellations on New Zealanders.

This need not be yet another example of the Morrison government seeking to divide Australians. This is especially important where all of us in this place have shared concerns relating to domestic violence. If the parliament can speak as one on this issue, recognising and advancing our shared concerns, this is important. This bill fails to recognise the complex nature of family violence, particularly for temporary migrant victim-survivors and it may increase the reluctance of victim-survivors to report family violence offences if they could have their own visas cancelled as a consequence. This issue was raised by many submissions to the Senate inquiry, including by the Law Council of Australia, and the potential unintended consequences of the bill as drafted must be addressed. The Department of Home Affairs, in their submission to the Senate inquiry, noted that broad grounds to refuse or cancel a visa due to family violence offending already exist in the visa cancellation framework. Indeed, ministerial direction 90, which governs section 501 visa cancellation and refusal decisions, requires that acts of family violence be considered as very serious, regardless of whether there is a conviction for an offence or of the sentence imposed. The current regime, therefore, provides a rigorous regime which treats family violence seriously in the exercise of the discretion regarding the refusal or cancellation of a visa. The minister should stop playing politics with family violence and instead consider the changes sought by the temporary visa working group, the National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence and the inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence to provide meaningful support to temporary visa holders who have experienced family violence.

I should note that the only difference between this bill and its previous versions is an alteration to the definition of a designated offence. Conviction of such an offence would deem that a person had automatically failed the character test, but it of course would still be up to the minister to exercise discretion to cancel the visa. The bill that's before us now seeks only to amend section 501 of the Migration Act. Yet, yesterday, we saw the minister talk about issues with respect of the cancellation powers in sections 116 and 17 in the Migration Act. This is an issue that had not been raised before with Labor or across three Senate inquiries. It's not clear that the bill in its current form addresses this issue, and we can only assume the government will be moving amendments to do so. As they are not amending the bill here, they must be amending it in the Senate. This morning the minister spoke about the need to get this bill passed, yet today in question time he spoke about running out of time before the election. It just doesn't look like he is serious when it comes to the issues contained in this bill.

As I foreshadowed, Labor will move amendments in the Senate to address our concerns about the impact on New Zealand and the retrospectivity of the bill. The matters this bill deals with should not be issues which divide us; they should not be mischaracterised, nor should our longstanding position be misrepresented. We remain willing to engage constructively with the government to improve this bill. The improvements we seek are important and they should not be controversial.

6:11 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very pleased to rise to speak in support of the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021. Unfortunately what those watching will have just seen from the member for Scullin is a classic example of Labor having an each-way bet when it comes to protecting Australians and keeping Australians safe. There are no such wobbles on this side of the chamber; we will continue to stay strong and make sure that we employ the powers needed in order to keep the Australian community safe.

The member for Scullin rightly pointed out that Senator Keneally was only telling half the story when she went on Sky News this morning and claimed Labor would be supporting the bill. It was a bit of a fib; while they might be supporting the bill in the House, they're going to try to amend it in the Senate. As a government, we have made it really clear that this bill is required in order to deport people who do serious harm to Australian citizens. These are convicted criminals. These are not just people we think might be of bad character; they have been convicted of a serious offence. Yet the Labor Party, in the amendments they're going to put into the Senate, are saying: 'We think it goes too far. We think somebody can be convicted of a serious offence but still not meet the threshold for deportation.' It goes to show that they simply can't be trusted to make the hard decisions required to keep Australians safe.

We heard from the member for Scullin a couple of examples where Labor take issue with this bill and think the powers are out of step with what is required. He said Labor was worried that this bill would catch up low-level offenders. Let's just think about which offences this bill deals with. These are people who have been convicted of an offence punishable by jail time of over two years. They have been convicted of offences like stalking, domestic violence, assaulting police officers, breaching AVOs, possessing weapons, concealing child abuse offences, and date rape offences. Which of these would the Labor Party nominate as too low level an offence against Australian citizens in order to justify these people remaining in the country? Breaching an AVO? Stalking a partner? Drugging someone on a date and raping them? This is ridiculous. These are people who have been convicted of these offences. These are not low-level offences by any means.

The member for Scullin claimed that we didn't understand the nature of family violence, that this might stop people from coming forward. But this isn't about people coming forward; you don't just get to make a report and have a partner's visa cancelled; they have to be convicted of an offence. And then, even if they don't get the full sentence of over two years, the government can say the person is not of good character and is deemed a risk to Australian citizens. When it comes to domestic violence, does the member for Scullin really think that someone is not going to come forward in a case where somebody has committed a domestic violence offence—to the extent that they can be convicted—and they can be convicted of an offence that warrants more than two years in jail? Does the member for Scullin really think that, simply because they don't get the full two years in jail from a judge, that person should stay? Because that's the loophole we're trying to close: people are being convicted of these serious offences punishable with more than two years in jail, but activist judges are not giving them two years jail. They're giving them less. I know the imputation it carries when I use the word 'activist' about judges, but there is a level of activism involved in this.

In Queensland—I can only speak for my jurisdiction; that's the jurisdiction that I know—judges can take into account, as part of sentencing, the fact that a person may be deported. So we have judges making decisions about whether or not someone should be deported, and they do it by saying, 'Well, this person will be deported if I give them two years jail, so I'll give them a year and a half,' or, 'I'll give them 12 months'. Well, that's not in keeping with the community's expectations. The community's expectation is that they elect a government to keep them safe and to set rules, and somebody should be deported if they're convicted of a criminal offence, particularly against an Australian citizen. It's not in the hands of judges to decide that they can circumvent that law by giving them a lesser sentence, on the understanding that that will prevent the government from deporting that person. That's the loophole we're trying to close.

Finally, the member for Scullin used the example of New Zealand. Well, New Zealand might be upset that their criminal citizens are being deported back to New Zealand. So what? Why is Labor expecting this government—elected on behalf of Australian citizens—to care more about the feelings of the New Zealand government than they do about Australian citizens against whom violent and heinous crimes are being committed by visa holders who we can't deport because Labor won't support us in closing this loophole? I see it time and time again: the Labor opposition wanting to side with foreign governments and wanting to side with the feelings of foreign diplomats and foreign government officials over what's in the best interest of Australians. We will not do it. We on this side of the chamber will take the side of Australians every single time, in their best interests. And how can Labor argue that it's not in the best interests of Australian citizens to have visa holders who are committing serious crimes, being convicted of them, and not being deported—not having their visas cancelled!

And we're serious about it. We've shown that we're serious about it. We've cancelled over 10,000 visas during our time in government—that is 10,000 individuals convicted of serious offences who, if their visas weren't cancelled, could have gone on to commit more harm against Australian citizens. Certainly, in my electorate, I know if I was walking down the street and I said that to someone, they'd say, 'Well, of course—that's just your job, to get rid of these people who are convicted of crimes and might undertake further crimes against Australian citizens.' Except that it contrasts so starkly with the Labor Party, who didn't do their job. They didn't do their job of protecting Australians. During their last government, the Rudd-Gillard government, they refused or cancelled a total of 1,128 visas—a tenth less. Does anybody on the street think that we only had 10 per cent of the crime that we have today, under the Rudd-Gillard government, that it was some kind of utopian period where people didn't commit crimes and violent crimes? Of course not. People were committing crimes, they were being convicted, and the Rudd-Gillard government—of which many, many members still sit as Labor Party members in this chamber and were involved in that cabinet—didn't have the ticker to cancel those people's visas. And, as a result, Australians were put at risk.

We've cancelled over 10,000 visas. And, just to give people an idea of what we're talking about, in Queensland—again, the jurisdiction that I know best, so that's where I'm going to talk to—we have cancelled 1,800 visas. That's in Queensland alone. Let me give you an idea of some of the offences: 154 visas cancelled from child sex offenders, including those who hold child pornography; 46 murderers; 88 rapists; 119 armed robbers; 316 drug offenders and 633 other violent offenders. Those are the visas that we've cancelled because we've got the ticker to do it, unlike the Labor Party when they were in government.

Now, the government that's got the ticker to do it, to cancel these visas, is coming to this chamber, coming to parliament, and saying: 'We'd like to close a loophole.' It's not good enough that somebody who is holding child exploitation material, child pornography, is allowed to stay in this country as a visa holder just because they don't get two years in jail, because an activist judge goes, 'Well, I could give him two years in jail, but then they'd deport him, so I'll give him a year and a half.' How is that fair on Australian citizens for the largesse they provide to visa holders—because they know that the vast, vast majority of visa holders come in and contribute something to Australian society and contribute exceptionally positively—to have somebody have an activist judge who decides to try and circumvent the law because they don't want somebody to be deported, even though they've been convicted of a serious offence punishable by over two years in jail. That's what this bill does.

The bill changes the test from being based on the actual jail sentence somebody has received when they've been convicted to anybody convicted of an offence punishable by at least two years in prison. Just because they are convicted of these offences doesn't mean they automatically get their visa cancelled. The government still has to look at it. There's still a certain period of appraisal, as you would expect. Every case is different, and all of that. We'll hear all of that from the Law Society, and we'll hear it regurgitated from Labor—lots of excuses. There's still the opportunity for the government to look at it, but the government has to be satisfied they've been convicted of this offence punishable by at least two years imprisonment, they've received a lower imprisonment than that two years and that they pose a risk to Australian community. And who would argue? Which of these Labor politicians who are going to try and amend this bill would have the guts to stand up and say that somebody possessing child exportation material and didn't get two years should deserve to stay? That material might be of an Australian child, or that might lead to further offending, or that material is possessed by any—

Quite right, member for Herbert. It's just not acceptable. So what the Labor Party should be doing is not having an each way bet, not talking out of both sides of their mouth, not saying on one side of their mouth on Sky News: 'We support the bill. There isn't a wafer of difference between us and the government when it comes to keeping Australians safe,' and then sending the member for Scullin in hear with his very low voice, nice and quiet, to say, 'We support you, but actually we're going to amend it and we're going to amend it so it doesn't cover some of the offences that you'd like it to cover, and we're also going to amend it just to make sure New Zealand aren't offended when we send back their criminal citizens to their country.' That's called having a bob each way. That's called not having the ticker to make the decisions that you need to in order to keep Australians safe.

We know that the Labor Party members have form on this—right? We know they have form on this, because it's not just about the fact they won't support this bill so that we can deport convicted criminals. There is a lot of difference between this government and the Labor Party when it comes to our willingness to keep Australians safe. Look at examples Labor Party members have given us, the character references they've written for foreign criminals. The Leader of the Opposition, himself, in 2020—this is recent history, right?—wrote a reference for a violent outlaw motorcycle gang member facing deportation. He wrote to the minister: 'I seek your assistance in finding a solution for this man.' This is a member of a violent outlaw criminal gang responsible for drug importation, responsible for harm against Australian citizens, and the Opposition Leader, just like he wouldn't have a ticker to turn back the boats—that's his own admission; that's not me—writes we just need 'a solution for this man'. Well, there is no other solution for a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang, for this government, than deporting him so that he is away from Australian citizens so he cannot cause harm.

The Manager of Opposition Business here in the House likes to be outraged all the time when we try and insinuate we keep Australians safer. In 2014 he wrote a reference for a drug dealer facing deportation, alleged to have imported five kilos of cocaine and 140 kilos of ice. This is a person the Manager of Opposition Business saw fit to write a reference for, to implore the government on—when he had been convicted of importing five kilos of cocaine and 140 kilos of ice! Think of the damage that would do on the street to Australian citizens partaking in that. It is beyond belief.

To Australians who might be listening, I say: judge the Labor Party on what they do, not on what they say. There is a gulf of distance between the opposition Labor Party and this government when it comes to keeping Australians safe. We are the ones who have cancelled 10,000 visas for criminals. They only did a tenth of that. We need these changes to keep deporting criminals to keep you safe, and the Labor Party should support them.

6:26 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

On the eve of an election, a bad government with untrustworthy ministers who have no record to run on are trying to ram through a bill that will hurt people and that is completely unnecessary—and the Labor Party is about to support them. This bill, the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021, tries to put ministers above the law and says that ministers will now be able to do of their own right, without anyone being able to interfere, the things that they can currently do under legislation but that you have the right to have looked over by a judge. It is completely unnecessary, because the government already has the power under legislation to deport people if it considers them to be a risk. Every one of the examples the previous speakers have gone through are examples where the minister can act. We know that because, in the same breath as they talk about why they say this bill is necessary, the government boast about how many people they have deported already under existing powers. It's why this bill is unnecessary. It's why the Labor Party was right when it said in its dissenting report that this bill is unnecessary.

But this bill is not just unnecessary; it is harmful. It is talking about people who may have been in this country for a very long time, who may now have children who have grown up in this country, who have done absolutely nothing wrong. But their family now faces being split apart and someone being sent to a country they may not have set foot in for a very long time, for decades, simply because the Prime Minister and the government are looking to beat up on people in the lead-up to the election.

This bill will not make this country safer. The government already has—and I stress this—extensive powers under legislation. It has God-like powers under section 501 to deport people on the basis of character. The government already has that power and is using it all the time. What this bill does is say that in certain situations you can't even challenge it. If you have a situation where someone has been here for a long period of time—they might be a New Zealand citizen who's here on a visa, and they might have kids here who are going to the local school. That person may have, in their youth, committed an offence, and it may well have been that a judge said, 'Look, I'm not going to impose a sentence on you because of all the circumstances of the time.' Now, years and years later, when they've potentially got kids going to school who've done nothing wrong, the government, under this legislation, without any oversight at all, can come in and say, 'We're sending you off to a country that you potentially haven't been to for a long time, and we're going to split your family apart.' In situations where someone has really done something so heinously wrong that they are a threat to the Australian community, the government already has the power to do something about it. What the government is seeking here is something more.

In the dying days of a bad government, you've always got to be really careful about the legislation that they try and rush through. That is when bad legislation gets put through and it's when, instead of fighting on the basis of principles, the opposition usually say, 'Yeah, we'll give you what you want.' Write the words 'national security' on the front of a bill in crayon and it's sure to get the opposition's support; they'll wave it through, even as it puts ministers above the law, undermines the rule of law in this country and does potential harm to innocent people. The government will come in time and time again and say, 'We need this to keep the country safe.' You've got to repeat over and over again that the government already has the powers. Why would they be wanting to do this? Why would they want this legislation? It's because not only do they want to have the powers but they want to be above the law.

I am sick of refugees and migrants and asylum seekers being used as political footballs at every election, and that is what is happening again. As we head towards an election with a government in strive, they're saying: 'Who can we kick now? Let's think about kicking kids who've done nothing wrong, who might be attending Australian schools, who might have even been born here. Let's put them at risk.' The Labor Party says, 'Where do we sign up?'

The problem about agreeing to pass bills in the dying days of a bad government is that history suggests that those laws stay on the books for quite a while. They stay on the books for quite a while, because, when there's a change of government—and I really hope there will be one at this election—the new government comes in and says, 'We couldn't possibly be seen as somehow being soft and unwinding it,' and so the power stay on the books. That's why it's so critical that when a bad piece of legislation comes to this place that you don't vote for it but vote against it.

This is an old-fashioned view of mine perhaps, but, if there's a bill in front of this place that you don't agree with, you oppose it. One of the most precious things that is given to each of us when we come here is our vote. It's all well and good to go back to the communities and say, 'I'm going to stand up for migrants; I'm going to stand up for refugees; I'm going to stand up for people who are on visas,' but you can't say that in your community and then come to this place and vote for a bad bill that has the potential to hurt people who've done nothing wrong.

Just in narrow political terms, why give a terrible Prime Minister a win on the eve of an election? Labor did this with the religious discrimination bill as well. Instead of voting against it, they voted for it, thinking that somehow that would help. If there's a bad bill, especially on the eve of an election where we might be about to change the government—and fingers crossed that happens—let's stop them doing bad things before the clock runs out.

There's one thing we need to put to bed: this idea that somehow the bill has been amended by the government and that's the reason the opposition can vote for it. The technical amendments that the government is moving were already out there when the opposition said previously that the bill is unnecessary and bad and that they were going to oppose it. So these are not new amendments that have been moved to take account of opposition concerns. The bill is in the same position as it was before. What we have here is a decision on the eve of an election to allow a government, a bad government, to do more bad things, and we'll oppose it. We'll oppose it, because bad legislation should be opposed.

One thing that was mentioned in the speech from the opposition, which is going to vote for this bill, is that it will affect our relationships with other countries. The government comes in here hairy-chested and says, 'Oh, why should we care about what those other countries are saying?' Well, it's an easy point to make superficially, but, when you delve into the detail and think about who this is going to apply to, it isn't someone who's come here from another country, been here for six months and done something wrong while they're here, so that the government says, 'Send them back.' The sole reason the government wants this bill is that it's retrospective, so someone from New Zealand who might have been here for a couple of decades, who for all intents and purposes is an Australian resident and whose kids might be going to local schools—I'm sure every one of us knows someone who's in that situation—is now about to be double-pinged for something that happened a while ago. It is, in a sense, double jeopardy, because what the government is saying is that people who have already served their time for something wrong that they did—and it might have been a long time ago—now have to potentially face, for themselves and their families, the additional prospect of deportation, perhaps to a place that they've never visited, especially in the case of their children.

That's why the New Zealand Prime Minister has said:

… send back Kiwis—genuine Kiwis … Do not deport your people and your problems.

There's a ring of truth to that that the government won't tell you about. I repeat: this isn't about people who might have come here from New Zealand or another country, landed here and committed an offence while here on a holiday visa. This is about people who've been living in our community for a very long time and who now have established networks and links.

The government will try to persuade people to vote for the bill by listing a range of heinous offences and crimes, and some of those listed by the government members are heinous offences and crimes. Most people in this country—all of them, I expect—would accept that for someone who's done something like that there is a case, when that person is genuinely not connected with Australia, for saying, 'If you've been here a short period of time, you're not welcome here anymore.' Most people would probably accept that. But what this government doesn't tell you as its members list the examples is that, for every one of those heinous examples, there are other offences which this bill is aimed at squarely capturing and where, when hearing all of the circumstances, a judge or magistrate has said, 'Actually, in this situation, even though this offence might have involved having a fight with another person, it happened, for example, in a pub when you were young, and I'm going to put you on a diversionary program.' The person might have been an exemplary citizen all the way through. The government doesn't tell you about those examples, and they don't tell you about the examples where someone has found themselves in front of a court for doing something wrong and then changed their life. They talk about all of the others, but they won't tell you about those examples, because they know that they wouldn't wash with the Australian community.

Most people would say, 'Oh, if you did something wrong and a judge or magistrate looked at it and decided that you should go through a diversion program and have a small sentence, that's right, especially if since then you've cleaned up your act,' because there is a sense in this country that if you do the crime you do your time and you do your punishment, and you don't then find in 10, 20 or 30 years that something else comes down on top of you. That's what we're talking about—all of those cases where most people in our community would say: 'Oh, no. Hang on. That person is actually a genuine local, and in that particular instance that person should be allowed to stay, and especially their kids shouldn't be separated from their parents.' That's all going to be caught up in this.

If a bad minister—and there are plenty of bad ministers in this government—decides they want to make a political point because they're worried about how they're going in the polls, there will be no recourse if this legislation passes. There'll be no recourse for the kids whose parents now get deported for something that might have happened 20 years ago, perhaps before the kids were even born. There will be no recourse for them. Up until now, you would have been able to go to court and challenge that; under this bill, you won't be able to. You've got to think through all the consequences.

I expect this government to come in here, hairy chested, and say, 'We've got to take away people 's right.' They do that all the time. And I repeat: this isn't about people who are genuinely threatening the safety of the Australian community because there are already powers to deal with that. It's a naked power grab for godlike powers from untrustworthy ministers in government, and we should not be waving it through. We should be opposing it. I call on the Labor Party to reconsider because, if there's one thing that we've learned, especially from the last little period, it's that, when you take on this government and you stand up to bullies and oppose bad legislation, we can sometimes in this place stop it, but the surest way of guaranteeing that a bad government gets its way is by doing what the Labor Party is doing now and voting for it. We won't have a bar of that. This bill should be opposed.

6:40 pm

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I've got a pretty detailed speech here, but I want to start off by addressing some of the points made by the member for Melbourne, the Leader of the Greens. He's talking about how the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021 hurts people. The bill is about a character test that talks about deporting paedophiles, murderers, rapists and people who have been convicted of domestic violence. We're not talking about a traffic infringement; we're talking about people who are hurting children. We're talking about people who shouldn't be in this country. For anyone to stand up in this place and back in paedophiles, back in murderers, back in—

Photo of Lucy WicksLucy Wicks (Robertson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The member for Melbourne on a point of order.

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

That is outrageous and that should be withdrawn.

Photo of Lucy WicksLucy Wicks (Robertson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Melbourne, who will take his seat. The member for Herbert, it would assist the House if you would withdraw that, please.

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

To assist the House, I'll withdraw. For any political party to not see the benefit in this bill and in this character assessment test, which is talking about deporting paedophiles, rapists and people in this country who have done the most heinous things, is absolutely disgraceful. The member for Melbourne, the Leader of the Greens—who should absolutely hang his head in shame—talks about this being harmful. I tell you what the harm will be if we don't do this. The harm will be to the Australian children and to Australian people who have been hurt and victimised—people who have had their rights stripped away. They shouldn't be in this country. They should be deported. For the life of me, I couldn't think of anyone in this place who would oppose it, but the Leader of the Greens, the member for Melbourne, surprises me most days. The Leader of the Green also stated that he's sick and tired of migrants and immigrants being targeted. This isn't targeting people who are doing the right thing; this is targeting people who are committing crimes. This is targeting people who are doing the most heinous things to our children throughout this country, and they should be deported.

We've seen time and time again judges give lenient sentences. We saw in Cairns recently a lenient sentence given to someone who was convicted of rape and did not do time in jail. They were convicted, but they didn't do any time. If that person was a foreign national, guess what? They're out. They do not stay in this country. I don't care if they've been here for one minute, 10 years or decades. If you commit a crime like this, you're out of this country. It should be as simple as that. To have any political party oppose that is shameful.

The member for Melbourne is interjecting, saying that there already is that. No. This needs to be broadened to capture those people. That's what's disappointing. The member for Melbourne comes in here, not knowing what he's talking about, blaming the Labor Party and blaming the Liberal Party. I'll tell you what we're talking about doing. We're talking about broadening the character assessment—the character test—to ensure that these people who commit these crimes don't stay here.

The Greens decided to oppose this bill in 2019, and they didn't bother to attend any of the committee hearings. One of the senators for the Greens described the bill as damaging and toxic and said she was glad it did not pass the Senate. These are their words. When you go through the bill, when you look at the details and you look at what we want to achieve—making sure that we can get rid of the people who commit these heinous crimes—well, the Greens stand by it; they don't want this to pass. We've seen another senator saying that the government is stigmatising and persecuting particular groups of people. Stigmatising and persecuting paedophiles? Stigmatising and persecuting murderers and rapists? Yes, that is true! Get out! You shouldn't be in this country! I don't think it is fair to hear the Labor Party or the Greens say we are really worried about the reputation—

It's always good hearing the Leader of the Greens interjecting. But, like I just stated, the senators described the bill as damaging and toxic. Senator McKim described it as stigmatising and persecuting. This is just garbage. And I'm not worried about what another country cares about when it comes to getting rid of and deporting criminals out of our country. I understand we have really strong relationships with New Zealand, and I think that's great, but, when it comes to deporting criminals, getting rid of these people who have committed these crimes, whether they are bikies, drug pushers, rapists, murders, rapists, paedophiles, we should do it every single day.

I think the Labor Party shouldn't be wanting this to go in on the voices so they can make amendments in the Senate. The Labor Party should bring this to a vote, so the people of Australia will know where you stand. Do you support the bill in its entirety? Do you stand with us in expanding and strengthening the character test to ensure these people, these paedophiles, are kicked out? Or do you want it on the voices, so can make amendments in the Senate? Let's be clear: no-one watches the Senate. No-one is paying attention there; they're paying attention to where the Prime Minister sits and the Leader of the Opposition sits. They want to see the government and the opposition state what their intentions are.

I think it's clear what our intentions are. I think it's very clear what we want to achieve with strengthening this character test, and we should be standing as a parliament together, minus the one Green we have here, who is more interested in politicking and throwing mud at the government. We heard him slandering the ministers here. But, at the end of the day, this government, this government that I'm in, this government on this side of the House, wants to deport these people who commit these serious crimes. We should not have foreign nationals who've been convicted of being paedophiles, of sexually abusing children, of murder, of rape and of domestic violence in this country.

I read an endorsement just before from a sister. She wrote to the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee in 2019. She said that her sister was murdered and her sister's partner was murdered. Their deaths and the impacts on their family, their three children and their close family would not have occurred if this proposed legislation was in place.

Taking away the politicking and taking away the grubby antics of the Leader of the Greens, taking away all commentary in this place, we should be listening to the people that it affects. We should be listening to the people who would still have their loved ones here if this were in place. The Police Federation of Australia also made a submission to the same committee. They said that anyone convicted of a crime of violence, regardless of their length of sentence, and who is a noncitizen of Australia, should have their status to remain here 'immediately reviewed'. I agree. I couldn't think of a more fitting statement from the police.

People get deported to many countries, not just to New Zealand. And whilst having strong relationships with other nations is very important, we should never put other countries before our own. We should always put Australians and the future of Australians first. I heard the member for Ryan mention Senator Keneally. Senator Keneally has written to the government suggesting that this bill is designed to capture trivial offences. Senator Keneally wrote to Minister Hawke saying that this bill is designed to capture trivial offences. I don't think rape, sexual assault, child abuse and paedophilia are trivial offences. They're some of the most heinous crimes that this nation has ever seen. Senator Keneally should explain why she considers domestic violence and the other offences captured in the bill as trivial. I disagree with her statements. I think most people around the country would disagree with her statement as well.

The member for Bruce, Julian Hill, claims the punishment does not match the crime. This is what Labor members have stated. I don't know how many times to reiterate it. If you commit these serious offences, if you are sentenced to jail, you should be deported. How can we have foreign nationals, regardless of their time spent here, committing heinous offences, and having people like the member for Bruce say that the punishment does not fit the crime if there is a murder or a rape. Those people who commit these crimes should be deported. Quite frankly, they should be locked up for good. I don't think paedophiles should be released, let alone give non-Australian citizens a free pass because they may have been here for some time, as the Leader of the Greens stated. That's not good enough. Bad behaviour should be punished, regardless of time in country.

The Greens have made their position clear. The Labor Party have made their position murky; no-one really knows where they sit. But I would urge the Labor Party not to let this go through on the voices and not stop it from going to a vote where you have to stand for something. This is a time when Australians will want you to make a strong decision. My view is that you'll let it flow through on the voices and then make amendments in the Senate. We want to see what the Leader of the Opposition has to say on this. I want to see what the Leader of the Opposition has to say on this. The Australian people want to see what the Leader of the Opposition has to say on this. He'll either bring it to a vote and stand with the coalition and support it or he’ll sit with his mate from the Greens and talk about the coalition that they want to form. This is the time you stand to be counted. The Australian people deserve that. They don't deserve to hear about it a time when the Senate does whatever the Senate does.

It is my belief that all members in this place should support strengthening the character test. We should ensure that future generations, our children—Australians—are protected. If violent, heinous, disgusting crimes are committed by foreign nationals, then they should deported. Australia deserves that. Australia deserves better than what the Greens are suggesting.

6:55 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

My comments will be brief because the substantive issue is incredibly simple, and that is that the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021 is entirely unnecessary because the government and the minister already have sweeping powers to cancel or revoke visas on the basis of someone's character. It's that simple. We don't need to be here. But it does raise the question: why are we here? Why is the government bringing on this entirely unnecessary and patently cruel built? I'll tell you why. It's because this government will miss no opportunity to pander to racism, to hate and to xenophobia. It will take every opportunity to polish up its national security and so-called border security credentials, and it will not miss an opportunity to try to wedge the opposition whenever it can. I will say it again. This bill is unnecessary. It is a blatant attempt by this government to pander to racism, bigotry and xenophobia and to thump its chest and make out it is tough on national security, tough on border security. It will not miss this opportunity to try to wedge the opposition.

And what's Labor doing? It's going to roll over. It's going to abandon all the towering speeches it has given on this bill and previous iterations of this bill. It's going to completely abandon high principle. It's going to roll over for one purpose: to pander to its political self-interest and try to get more votes at the next election in order to win government. In other words, this mob is unprincipled. We know that that mob is unprincipled! This is an opportunity tonight for this mob to show some backbone. But it won't. It 'll roll over as it chases votes.

I say shame on the lot of you! On this issue, when it comes to some aspects of national security and certainly when it comes to border security, I've had a gutful of the lot of you—the government and the opposition. You are completely and utterly unprincipled—and that's not good enough, that's not in the public interest. Why can't we in this place finally show some humanity, show that we are a principled country, show that we do the right thing, show that we treat people fairly, show that we have a developed sense of judicial justice, show that we respect the judicial system and show that we don't go around accusing judges of cooking the books and looking for loopholes. This is another terrible missed opportunity tonight—that the government would behave like this and that the weaklings in the opposition go along for the ride.

It's not good enough for the opposition to say: 'Don't you worry about our behaviour tonight. We'll seek to amend this bill in the Senate.' No, you should vote every time along the lines of what you believe is right and how you feel about a bill. It's like the Religious Discrimination Bill last week. We had towering speech after towering speech after towering speech from the Opposition—and then they rolled over and voted in favour of the bill. You are weaklings the lot of you! What has this country come to? And then you look with amazement at the rise of the Independents and try to come up with some explanation as to why there is such a high interest in the crossbench and the Independents right now. It's because we represent our community, we vote on conscience, we stand on high principle and we don't abandon all of that just for the sake of some lousy votes.

6:59 pm

Photo of Melissa McIntoshMelissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I must say that I feel quite uncomfortable with the raising of the voice of the previous member, the Independent, especially with a female deputy speaker in the chair when we're talking about women's safety. I think there are other ways to conduct ourselves in the House.

A picture tells a thousand words and the picture before us this evening is the Labor Party and the Greens in a nice little coalition that is protecting foreign criminals when it comes to the safety of Australian women and children. When we have a serious public safety issue that has gone unresolved for 1,200 days—that is, over three years—as a government it is our responsibility to the Australian people to continue to prosecute the case to the Labor and Greens alliance that politics needs to be set aside and that the safety of women and children from non-Australian violent criminals should be put first. It's about the safety of Australian women and children. This is what the Australian people expect. This is what my community of Lindsay expects. In fact, I received a message this evening from one local woman who said, 'I can't believe we are debating over whether women deserve to be safe.'

So I commend the minister for immigration for his relentless pursuit of what is right to get this bill through the House for the second time against a barrage of opposition from the opposition and their partners in crime, the Greens, to protect Australians—mums, sisters, friends and daughters. How can anyone argue against that? How can anyone argue that a young woman driving to her boyfriend's house in the early hours of the morning shouldn't be safe as she steps out of her car to go to his house? She should not be threatened with a knife and the words, 'Be quiet or I will cut you.' Under our current laws, the convicted criminal from Mauritius received 18 months imprisonment and a 12-month community corrections order. The initial refusal of his visa on character grounds was set aside by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, determining that he did not fail the character test. A young woman was attacked at knifepoint and threatened with her life by a citizen not of Australia but of Mauritius, and his character was considered good enough for a visa. It's hard to believe but very true. This is why we need change, and this is why Labor needs to stop mucking about and to support this bill.

We don't accept violence against women by Australian citizens. As someone whose LGA of Penrith has one of the worst records of domestic violence in the state of New South Wales, along with the Central Coast—which I know Deputy Speaker Wicks knows, as it is her home LGA—there is no way I could stand to let a noncitizen get away with serious violence against women because of a loophole in our laws. I don't understand why Labor has been so opposed to protecting our women for so long. I don't know why Labor is putting the feelings of the New Zealand government above the protection of our women. Labor needs to support this bill, not just wave it through to the Senate for them to weaken it there. But I guess being weak is a core strength of Labor.

So here I stand to support the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021 in the strongest of ways, a bill that aims to protect Australia's national security interests by cracking down on convicted criminals who have committed violent or sexual offences, a bill that aims to protect Australian women. Since I came into this place in 2019, 4,000 visas have been cancelled. That is 4,000 serious criminals who have been kept out of the Australian community. That is almost four times more in three years than the whole of the previous Labor government. If we look at the numbers since 2014, we have cancelled or refused 10,000 visas. These aren't good people: nearly 1,400 were sexual offences, including over 900 for child sex and child pornography offences; 500 were armed robbery offences; 1,700 were drug offences; and over 200 were murder offences. But then there are the men—the men who wield knives at women, men who punch women in the head and men who beat their partners—who have been getting into our country and retaining their visas because of a legal loophole. I hope Labor agrees with us, after 1,200 days of refusal, to stop this today and to support this bill.

So what is the bill about? The bill aims to broaden existing discretionary powers to cancel and refuse visas under the character test. It's the character test where criminals and their lawyers are finding loopholes. Through this bill, we are allowing discretionary refusal or cancellation of a visa for noncitizens convicted for a designated offence of at least two years imprisonment. And since the power will be discretionary, the government will have flexibility to focus on serious crimes perpetrated by criminals who pose a risk to the Australian community.

Labor has tried to argue that this sets a threshold too low for visa cancellation. Too low? I refer back to my story about the young Australian woman who was held at knife point and had her life threatened. And I remind the House that those who have committed serious, violent and sexual offences are captured by this bill. Labor, again working with their partners in crime, the Greens, are being weak on security and weak on protecting Australians from violent offenders, and it is just not good enough. What makes it worse is that this bill has been before parliament for 1,200 days. That is over three years of inaction by Labor and the Greens. And now they want to weaken it in the Senate so that we don't upset New Zealand by sending their convicted criminals back home. You tell that to Australian women, and you tell that to the women in my community of Lindsay!

The bill before the House is a proportionate and responsible bill to ensure foreign criminals who have broken the law are stopped from committing further injustices on Australian soil. It implements strong protections to ensure that Australians are kept safe by improving the character test provisions of the Migration Act. Australia is the best country in the world. We need to ensure that those who live here are protected from those who seek to go against our national interest. This bill, the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill, demonstrates the Morrison government's ongoing commitment to the safety and protection of Australians—its commitment to the safety and protection of Australian women—and I commend this bill to the House.

7:09 pm

Photo of Craig KellyCraig Kelly (Hughes, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I am pleased to rise this evening to speak on the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021. I was listening to the debate when the member for Herbert, Mr Thompson, was making some excellent points about this bill, like how we need to protect this nation from paedophiles, from child rapists, from those that would push drugs upon our kids—all excellent points. But I also heard the member for Clark contribute to this bill, asking, 'Is it actually necessary?' I listened to the member for Clark, and I think he has many good points. I asked myself: under the current legislation, the migration minister of this country had the power to deport tennis player Novak Djokovic from this country not because of something he had done incorrectly but because they thought that somehow his mere presence in this country would do something which would, I think the minister's words were, 'increase antivax sentiment'. Antivax sentiment is code for antifreedom sentiment. The antivax debate in this country is about a case of freedom of choice.

In this country the minister has the power to expel someone for their political views, even though they have never espoused those views in this country. Just look at the details of that particular case and what happened. We know that Novak Djokovic arrived lawfully as the world's No. 1 tennis player for the Australian Open, a Grand Slam event. That Grand Slam event, the Australian Open, brings our nation enormous wealth and prestige. I have been overseas at that time of year many times, and it is one of the few times we see Australia mentioned on the front page of the world's newspapers as they report the results of the Australian Open. So, when the world's No. 1 player arrived, there should have been a red carpet and a marching band. Instead, the way he was treated at Melbourne Airport—remembering that he had lawful documents and had come here lawfully—is what you would expect if someone turned up at Melbourne Airport with a kilo of hashish in their bag. He was held overnight in Melbourne Airport and questioned for hours on end. That is not how we want to treat international sporting personalities when they come to our country to contribute to our nation. What precedent has this set?

We know that it is not just the Australian Open that we rely on for overseas events. Australia has to compete for every single major sporting event. We don't have any great special right to host any single event. We are up against competition from the Middle East, from South-East Asia, from China, from countries all around the world that want to host world cups in their particular sport. But what we have now done is handed all those other nations a competitive advantage, a reason they can attack Australia. They can argue against Australia. Why should you have your No. 1 world sporting event, your world cup, in Australia, knowing that the Australian government can deport your top player not because of something he has done wrong but because of a political issue?

Novak Djokovic was a political prisoner in this country, and that should bring shame upon every single one of us in this parliament. If we're going to amend the law of the Migration Act we should be looking at taking away that provision that gives the minister that discretion, to ensure something like that never happens again. We need to give each sporting group that goes out to compete for these events worldwide the confidence and the backing that they cannot be attacked by other nations calling upon our record on expelling and deporting their major players for nothing other than the political expediency of the government.

If you think our tourism industry is going to come bouncing back when we reopen our borders, I suggest having a look at the tweet that George Brandis, our high commissioner in the UK, recently put out a couple of days ago. The tweet he put out was:

We have a simple message to our best mates in Britain: we can't wait to welcome you back down under.

It's had over 2,800 comments. But, sadly, the majority of those comments are negative towards Australia. Our international reputation has been trashed over the past 12 months. The government claims that it doesn't mandate compulsory vaccines. Yet it won't let Australians exit the country unless they have been 'fully vaccinated'—whatever that means at a particular point in time. Is it two jabs? Three jabs? Who knows. It may be four, five or six jabs sometime in the future.

We've got to get our tourism sector firing again. One of the ways we can do it is admit to the mistakes we made under the Migration Act with Novak Djokovic. We as a nation should apologise to him. We should apologise to the Serbian people for what we did—making him a political prisoner, an example. We ignored the science and the evidence. The idea that someone with the fitness of Novak Djokovic poses a health risk to anyone in this country is a complete nonsense. It should never have happened. Yet that is the existing power the minister has under the Migration Act today. It is difficult to see why these additional powers are needed. If I'm to err on this issue, I'd prefer to err on the side of giving the minister the discretion when it comes to rapists, paedophiles, criminals and drug pushers—those who try to push upon others the drugs they make for pure profit. Those people do not belong in Australia. I thank the House.

7:17 pm

Photo of Alex HawkeAlex Hawke (Mitchell, Liberal Party, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank all members for their contributions in relation to the debate on the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2021. I welcome those who have recently come to the position of supporting the bill. I thank them for their lukewarm support. I note that there is still opposition in this House to a straightforward bill with simple matters in front of the House. I will briefly address those concerns.

As I've been saying for a number of days, this bill has sat in front of this House for around 1,200 days. It's been in here and out of here, and it's back here again now. It's not something the government has come to at the end of our term; we've been consistent in pursuing it for the last 1,200 days for important reasons. It's certainly not a racist bill as the member for Clark would have us believe. Our entire immigration policy is non-discriminatory; our cancellation policy is non-discriminatory as well. Crime doesn't have any nationality or race or ethnicity. Any person, from any background or any culture, can be good or bad. The government has no view about that. So it is odd to introduce the topic of race after 1,200 days of a pretty serious debate about crime and the victims and impact of crime. And the member for Melbourne had some bizarre objections about sympathy for people who have committed crimes. We're talking about convicted criminals in relation to this bill—serious convicted criminals with serious sentences.

Again I'd urge members in this place to be focused, as Australians want us to be, on the victims of crime rather than the criminals themselves. We need to focus on the victims as a priority because the victims in this case are the Australian community and the perpetrators are non-Australians. The primary responsibility of the House of Representatives in the Australian parliament is to think about the impact of serious and violent offending on Australian citizens. In many cases, we're talking about vulnerable people and groups. Women are victims of sex based offences. In these offences we're talking about, children in particular are victims. Their families are victims. Having administered much of the domestic violence cohort for a number of years, in a junior role and now in this role, I can tell you that those crimes are shocking, they're graphic. They're difficult to deal with as a minister, when you read the material repeatedly—as do law enforcement officers when they do their job and as do courts when they do their job, but here in this job you do that as well—and there are serious impacts upon the victims. So anything we as a government and as a parliament can do in this space, to ensure that we don't see these crimes happen in the first place, is absolutely wise and the right approach in relation to a bill of this nature.

That's why it has been surprising that people have, for 1,200 days, obfuscated about what this bill entails. Labor has suggested that this will capture trivial offences. The government has gone out of its way, every day, to demonstrate that there are no trivial offences captured by this bill. There are no trivial offences at all. In fact, when you check out the list of designated offences and the requirements for a minimum two-year sentence, you'll understand these are the most heinous of crimes. These are the ones that have the most impact upon victims, whether they are armed robberies, aggravated burglaries or sexual assaults.

Looking at other crimes, members haven't spent a lot of time in this debate focusing on possession of a firearm, something we all agree on. We agree on that for our own citizens. We think people should have gun registrations and firearm licences, and there have to be rules about possession of a weapon, but why would we allow a noncitizen or temporary resident to possess a firearm? Why would we think that was okay? It's against the law. If a temporary resident or visa holder possesses and is convicted of possessing a firearm, that's a serious offence. I know the policy of the member for Melbourne's party, the Greens, is against the possession of weapons. That's one of the designated offences here. You spoke about needing to have sympathy and compassion for perpetrators on a number of occasions in your speech. I truly don't understand where you're coming from on this one. I know you've got concerns about parts of the Migration Act that the government has addressed over the years in many ways, but here we're talking about serious, violent crime and serious, violent criminal offenders who have been convicted, including for possession of firearms, something I suggest all members actually agree on.

I came to this role and picked up this bill, with the Labor Party opposing it a couple of times, and addressed some of the concerns that Labor has had. There are no further concerns, I believe, that are valid in relation to this bill because it is very simple: the designated offences are there for every Australian to see—for lawyers to see and for judges to see. It provides clarity and certainty to the law around cancellations. It means we'll have more discretionary power, not mandatory power. There wasn't even an objection raised by the member for Melbourne about mandatory use of the power. It's discretionary and it gives the government and the minister the option to cancel whenever we have people who've committed these crimes, not just crimes here in Australia but the same crimes offshore.

Yes, it is retrospective; that's a criticism I've heard. I make no apology for that, and the Morrison government makes no apology for the retrospectivity, because it would make no sense otherwise. If you are a repeated convicted sexual offender in an offshore country, we want to know that before we give you a visa. We want to have the option of saying, 'No, you can't have that visa.' The powers don't exist in a sufficient way, or a lawful way, for us to be able to do it now—and that's been tested in the courts. The evidence has mounted around section 501 of the Migration Act over the years. I can provide examples to any member here of the judiciary over time in different courts—it might be the Victorian courts or the ACT Supreme Court—taking into account, in sentencing, the fact that this government will be deporting a person or cancelling their visa, with sentencing thereby coming in under the mandatory cancellation thresholds. This evidence has mounted for some years in different courts at different levels. This is the serious work of government. We've mounted this case for about 1,200 days because that evidence from the courts has mounted. Some people criticise courts for that. The public is often critical of courts for that because they feel that serious criminals are getting off on technicalities and getting around our laws. But, to be fair to the courts, it's the job of everybody here to improve the law so that the courts can interpret it properly. That's what the courts are saying to us. That's why the Morrison government has put this bill into the House—to say that we will define the law in the way we want to do it, preferably together as a parliament, on serious and violent crime. Then courts can see that the law is clear. There won't be challenges to our system. There won't be people getting through after the AAT overturns ministerial cancellations in serious crime cases. There won't be people coming from offshore who have committed sexual based defences offences over a long period of time in other countries.

I have to say that many of the objections that we've heard here and continue to hear I find to be excuses. I'm reminded of the lateness of the hour. After 1,200 days, I think everybody's minded to get onto a vote on this bill. I will finish up. I have a lot more to say on this, but maybe I'll have to say it somewhere else. I do think this serious bill requires the support of this House. I want this to be supported in the Senate. We have spoken to the crossbench, and we believe we have support. It is sensible law. It is a good law. It will protect Australians. Frankly speaking, there are not many bills that will pass in this place that will not just deal with crime when it happens but prevent crimes from happening in the first place. When we can do that, we should do that and we must do that. I commend this bill to the House.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the bill be now read a second time.

A division having been called and the bells having been rung—

As there are fewer than five members on the side for the noes, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative in accordance with standing order 127. The names of those members who are in the minority will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Adjournment proposed and negatived.