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

As I was saying, to have an effective policy it is necessary, as we know by the panel's advice and recommendations, to have a no-advantage principle for people seeking asylum—that is, for those seeking asylum they are not given any preferential treatment in processing their claims as a result of travelling irregularly by boat to Australia. This means that people who arrive in Australia by boat should not be resettled any faster than refugees waiting in refugee camps around the world. If the government is going to invest in a regional process, it is fundamental that asylum seekers should be required to access that process and not seek an advantage by travelling to Australia irregularly by boat. It is important to remember that irregular maritime arrivals would have been waiting long periods in the region for processing and provision of a durable outcome to this very difficult problem. We are not adding to that time, only reinforcing the principle that there will be no advantage gained in paying a people smuggler to bring them to Australia and, most importantly, risking their lives and perhaps the lives of their loved ones in that process.

These measures are in conjunction with the unprecedented rise in the humanitarian intake to 20,000 people. This will include refugees who have been waiting for a number of years in the hope of resettlement in Australia. It is also important to note that the panel has also recommended circumstances in which people spend time waiting in Nauru and Papua New Guinea be different than when asylum seekers were processed there in the past. The intention is that the facilities will be open, there will be appropriate mental health arrangements and transferees will have access to education and vocational opportunities. So I refute many of the propositions put forward by the Greens in the debate today about the treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea.

This motion seeks to implement a key and urgent recommendation of the expert panel report. As I stated a number of times in my opening comments and at the beginning of my closing remarks, this motion is about the designation of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea as a regional processing country. The government's policy will be a clear demonstration that people can pursue regular options and be safely referred to resettlement countries like Australia as part of an orderly humanitarian program while at the same time providing no advantage to those who arrive by boat. Together, these things will undermine the people-smuggling trade. For these reasons the government will be opposing the amendment put forward by the Greens. I commend the substantive motion to the Senate.


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