Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Bills

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

9:42 pm

Photo of Michaelia CashMichaelia Cash (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration) Share this | Hansard source

Without a doubt the Greens policies well and truly encourage the people smugglers and the people smugglers are very happy with the policies that the Greens support. The Greens have shown that they are not interested in stopping the boats because they know that they only want onshore processing and open borders. The Greens do not take their responsibilities seriously as parliamentarians in ensuring the security of this nation. But what the Greens have shown tonight—and in particular with this final amendment by which a sunset clause on the legislation that we are discussing is proposed---is that is as of 16 August 2012, never ever have the Greens been more out of touch with mainstream Australia.

As much as it is going to pain the Greens, as distressing as tonight is going to be for the Greens, I say to them: this bill does not need a sunset clause. That is the last thing that this bill needs. What the bill does need—and I also address these comments to the government—is the final two steps in the coalition's proven border protection policies. There is one party in this place that has solved the issue of border protection and that party is the party of the coalition. Our policies have been proven to work. Whilst tonight I welcome, as a member of the coalition, the government's monumental backflip that they have performed on the border protection issue and the fact that they have finally decided to agree with the coalition when it comes to the direction that this country and the policies this government should take when it comes to border protection, the government are only implementing but one of our steps and there are two more for the government to implement.

In relation to the coalition's position on a sunset clause, I say this: whilst we support the legislation that is before us today, the coalition in no way steps back from our policies of reintroducing temporary protection visas and turning back the boats where it is safe to do so. We are now supported in those two policy objectives by the report of the expert panel. The report of the expert panel does not, as the Greens propose with this amendment, propose a sunset clause. Far from it, the report of the expert panel has clearly come down in favour of the coalition's policies when it comes to border protection.

The government—and it knows it needs to do this—should implement the full suite of these measures and if it does not it cannot expect the same outcome that the Howard government achieved when it was in power. The policies of the former Howard government were not policies that were cooked up overnight. They were not policies that were produced in the last six weeks. These are policies that are the result of more than 10 years of both successful implementation and continual refinement and which will be fully reinstated by a coalition government if and when we are re-elected. The coalition has been consistent when it comes to border protection and the public trust the coalition and our policies when it comes to border protection.

So I say to Senator Milne, the last thing this bill before us tonight needs is a sunset clause. If you truly believe that it does, then you are more out of touch with mainstream Australia that even I could have thought that you were. The bill before us tonight needs to be passed and it needs to be passed in a timely fashion. Then it is for the government to consider very carefully that if it truly does want to stop the boats and to break the people smuggler model—as the minister has outlined on a number of occasions tonight in response to questions from the Greens—it has to acknowledge the passing of the bill tonight is a step forward but it is only that and there are another two steps that the government needs to take. The coalition does not support the Greens amendment.

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