Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Bills

Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2012; In Committee

7:19 pm

Photo of Kate LundyKate Lundy (ACT, Australian Labor Party, Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation) Share this | Hansard source

The government is increasing our humanitarian intake to 20,000. I reiterate that this is part of a regional arrangement. This legislation is part of a process and what we believe will be a durable regional arrangement for the management of irregular migration. I challenge the premise of Senator Milne's question, because it does not acknowledge that the legislation is part of a broader solution. I know from many commentators, and from the expressions of the minister, that it is in everybody's interests, and particularly the interests of refugees, that we have an orderly migration process. Our motivation is to prevent loss of life and tragedy in boats, and part of our motivation is always, as we have said right from the start in our advocacy of the Malaysia arrangement, to come up with a regional approach that engages fully with all of our neighbours and works with them to get a sustainable and durable solution to irregular migration in our region.

I think there is broad consensus that that is a desirable outcome. This is a very difficult debate—it is very challenging and the government has compromised very specifically in accepting that we needed to have an independent panel to determine the best way forward, and we have willingly compromised again to put in place what we believe is the most effective solution to an incredibly challenging problem. Again, I respect the Greens' opposition to this approach. Their opposition has been consistent, but the government stands by our motivation to find that long-term solution. We believe that this legislation captures and embodies both the spirit and the letter of the recommendations of the Houston report.

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