Senate debates

Thursday, 25 June 2015


Migration Amendment (Regional Processing Arrangements) Bill 2015; First Reading

10:24 am

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I am scratching my head about why this is so critical today because we are told that it is important to rush this legislation through, that it is absolutely critical that we bypass the ordinary procedures of the Senate to ensure there is certainty around the law. I go back to a question asked by my colleague Senator Hanson-Young of Senator Brandis yesterday where she asked whether the government was ramming this through the Senate because the actions of this government have indeed been unlawful

Senator Brandis said:

No, that is incorrect, Senator. The government is of the view that the offshore processing arrangements are lawful. That is the view of the government. … and I understand the former Labor government also believed—that the offshore processing arrangements were lawful.

You cannot have it both ways. Either Senator Brandis was misleading the parliament yesterday when he put his position forward that these arrangements are lawful, or this legislation is necessary because they are unlawful. Only one of the two is correct.

If we are to accept that Senator Brandis did not mislead the parliament yesterday, there is absolutely no need to do this. There is no need to bypass the ordinary procedures of the Senate. There is no need to ram through this legislation; there is no need to do it without any scrutiny; there is no need to bypass the courts; there is no need to trample on the democratic institutions this country is founded on. There is no need to do it. Senator Brandis made it crystal clear: in his view, in the view of the government, existing arrangements are lawful. So why are we having the debate? What is the reason for doing this? There is none. Or perhaps there is a reason. Perhaps Senator Brandis was misleading the parliament.

We will give him the opportunity to correct the record. If he indeed does believe, and if he is certain, that the arrangements are not legal, then I am sure the Labor Party would agree that we can assume that this is totally unnecessary and that what we are doing here is wasting the parliament's time. If, on the other hand, the government feels the urgency to support this motion, again with the support of the Labor Party, then I expect that Senator Brandis will correct the record, and he will correct the response that he gave to Senator Hanson-Young in question time.

This is a disgraceful abuse of the parliament. We have a system of detention where there is some contention. It is the job of the High Court to resolve that; it is not the job of this parliament to bypass the law. We do not support the motion. We think it should go to committee for further scrutiny. We think that it is critical that a decision of this importance—effectively saying that the court needs to be bypassed by the actions of this parliament in a last minute rush on the verge of a long break—is not appropriate. We will not be supporting the motion. We think that the Labor Party and the crossbenchers should join us in opposing this abuse of the parliament.


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