Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 February 2019


Consideration of Legislation

9:38 am

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | Hansard source

The government will not be supporting this motion. What this motion by the Labor Party shows to the Australian people is just how cocky, how reckless, how irresponsible and how weak Bill Shorten is as leader of the Labor Party. Bill Shorten is demonstrating to all Australians that he does not have the strength of character or the good judgement required to be Prime Minister of Australia. In pursuit of a short-term tactical political advantage, he has decided to compromise our national security and to compromise our border protection arrangements.

What Labor is doing here today is trying to ram legislation through the Senate which will weaken our border protection arrangements. Let's just remind ourselves what the Labor Party tried to do in the Senate—very incompetently, I might add—back in December. Back in December, the Labor Party tried to ram legislation through the Senate which Bill Shorten yesterday had to admit would have denied the opportunity for the government to turn away criminals from Australia and would have put the pull factor back at the heart of our border protection arrangements, which of course is the product that the people smugglers want to sell.

Why did Bill Shorten move amendments yesterday? Because, having failed to ask for security advice from our national security agencies and with a failed gag motion in the Senate in December last year, he convinced his Labor senators in this chamber to support legislation which, he had to admit in the end, would have put our border security arrangements at serious, serious risk. Let me just say that the ALP amendments that were passed by Labor, the Greens and the crossbench in the House of Representatives yesterday still leave Australia exposed.

Here are some of the kinds of people the minister would be forced to bring to Australia on the say so of doctors under the Labor amendments: people charged with bad conduct but not convicted of offences under foreign laws or convicted but sentenced to less than 12 months in prison. Plenty of countries hand down lenient sentences for things like beating your wife or paedophilia, if they hand down any sentence at all. It is very hard to convict people of things like rape in some countries because women's testimony is worth much less than that of men. A person charged but not sentenced for, say, murder or paedophilia on Nauru will not be caught by the exemption. Australian security agencies may be well aware of a person engaging in paedophilia on Nauru but the person need not have been charged or sentenced.

The upshot is that, as a result of Bill Shorten's bill—and it will be on his head—rapists, murderers and paedophiles will still get a free pass into this country. Bill Shorten should be ashamed of himself. It includes people involved in criminal organisations. A person may be a member of a criminal drug-dealing gang, for example. It includes people reasonably suspected of people smuggling. These are all people that would be forced onto Australia courtesy of legislation that Labor is seeking to ram through the Senate. It includes people whose general past conduct shows they are not of good character. For example, it includes people who consort with criminals, people whose bad conduct is not criminalised in the relevant home jurisdiction, people who have been convicted of a lot of low-level offences, people who have been fighting guards in Nauru or Manus, people who have touched up nurses, people who have threatened violence and people who have bragged about going into crime and drug dealing when they get to Australia.

These are the people that the Labor Party, together with the Greens, wants to bring into Australia. It includes people who have incited racial discord on Nauru or Manus and people who pose a risk of doing the following in Australia: engage in criminal conduct in Australia; or harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person in Australia; or vilify a segment of the Australian community; or incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community; or represent a danger to the Australian community or to a segment of that community, whether by way of being liable to become involved in activities that are disruptive to, or in violence threatening harm to, that community or segment, or in any other way.

So the Australian people can now see the cockiness of Bill Shorten; they can see his arrogance, as well as his recklessness and his absolute weakness in standing up for our national interests. Bill Shorten has not learned from the failures of the Rudd Labor government. Kevin Rudd thought that he could be tough and soft at the same time. Of course, the disastrous results were there for all to see: 1,200 deaths at sea. Labor are at it again. This time they don't even want to wait for an election.


No comments