Thursday, 16 August 2012
Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2012; In Committee
Again I feel the need to challenge some of the assertions made by Senator Hanson-Young that the government voted down protections, as she described. We did not do that. Those protections remain. We disagree with the Greens' proposed amendment. We do not believe it is necessary. But in no way has that removed those protections. Contrary to the assertion by Senator Hanson-Young that this proposed amendment, in putting in place a statutory review, enhances protections, in fact the strongest protection we have is that, in the agreements to be negotiated between Australia and designated countries, these negotiations take place with the involvement of stakeholders including the UNHCR and other entities. For these agreements to then be presented to both houses of parliament I believe offers the best prospect for transparency, for scrutiny and for that test that Senator Hanson-Young and the Greens seem to be looking for in how they express the need for a review.
I do not think it will surprise the Greens to know that we as a government will be opposing this amendment. There is no doubt that reviews will be undertaken in respect of regional processing arrangements. I have no doubt that the ongoing commentary provided by all concerned, motivated and interested by this vexing matter will stand as a constant review of the operation of these policies, including the normal forms of scrutiny through the Senate estimates processes. We do not believe that there is a reason that that process of ongoing scrutiny and review needs a statutory requirement, and conducting 12-month reviews will have an effect of discouraging people from engaging in the proper migration processes and the processes we are trying to establish in creating a durable arrangement for migration in our region. On these bases, we are not going to be supporting the amendment currently before us.