Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Manus Island

11:19 am

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

I reiterate to the Senate the integral nature of supporting this motion, which is to designate the Independent State of Papua New Guinea as a regional processing country. I would like to address the amendment put forward by the Greens and the reasons the government will not be supporting this amendment.

The government is taking action recommended by a panel of experts. We have agreed in principle to implement all 22 recommendations of the expert panel's report on asylum seekers, and this is how responsible governments develop policy: we listen to the advice of experts. Those recommendations include regional processing in Nauru and Papua New Guinea as soon as is practicable. The government believes that the measures it is putting in place as recommended by the panel will be effective. The combination of an increased refugee intake from offshore and no advantage for those who arrive by boat removes the attractiveness of attempting the expensive and dangerous boat journey to Australia. It is important to note, and in the context of this debate I remind my colleagues, that the expert panel report does not recommend temporary protection visas, a measure that in the past, contrary to what we have heard today, saw some 95 per cent of refugees permanently remain in Australia, and makes clear that tow-backs create risks to the lives of Australian Defence Force personnel and would only ever work with an agreement with other countries, something that Indonesia has made amply clear will not happen.

Through the course of much of this debate we are faced with opposition for opposition's sake and we as a government are doing our level best to take the politics out of this issue. As we have said consistently, there is still some way to go before we see the real effects of these policies but we are starting to see positives such as the recent voluntary returns of Sri Lankans. We know people smugglers will continue to test our resolve, but no-one should doubt the government's commitment to implementing the 22 recommendations of the expert panel. We believe that it is only through doing this, through responding to that expert advice diligently, that we will be able to end the appalling trade of people smuggling and help stop people dying at sea. People arriving by boat without a visa after 13 August 2012 run the risk of transfer to a regional processing country. That is clear.

Senator Hanson-Young interjecting—


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