Thursday, 25 July 2019
Consideration of Legislation
Of course the government should release the Solicitor-General's advice on the temporary exclusion order legislation. Of course they should. It's not just Senator Patrick who thinks they should. It's not just the Australian Labor Party that thinks they should. The Law Council of Australia says they should. In fact, it was the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, chaired by Liberal member Andrew Hastie and dominated by Liberal Party members, that made a recommendation that the government should release the Solicitor-General's advice and prove that this legislation is constitutional. In voting against this motion today, the government is voting against the recommendation made by its own Liberal dominated committee, with its own Liberal chair. Senators in this place—Senator Abetz, Senator Stokes and Senator Fawcett—put their names to a recommendation that called on the government to do exactly what Senator Patrick's motion is calling on the government to do here today.
Let's make no mistake about this. This is no small ask. This is no niggling request from Senator Patrick. This is, in fact, the very question that Australians want the answer to from this government, because Australians, this parliament, and, indeed, the Australian Labor Party want a temporary exclusion order scheme that works, that keeps Australians safe and that is constitutionally valid and will withstand a High Court challenge. It is no good this parliament passing legislation if that legislation gets thrown out by the High Court and Australians are left less safe than they would be had this legislation not passed. That is a farcical situation and yet it is the one the government is continuing to contemplate and leave in doubt.
Let me make clear that Labor will be doing a number of things in relation to Senator Patrick's motion. I advise the Senate that, if standing orders are suspended so that Senator Patrick can move his motion, I will move an amendment to paragraph (a) so that the motion reads, 'There be laid on the table by 11 am today by the minister.' I also advise that, because the opposition do not intend for this legislation to be delayed by this parliament, I will ask for the question to be divided so the opposition can support paragraph (a) and oppose paragraph (b).
Labor have always supported the intent of the temporary exclusion order legislation. We supported it in the April report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. We supported the 18 substantive recommendations put forward by that Liberal dominated committee. We, in fact, are the party that have been consistent on the temporary exclusion order legislation. The flip-flopping has happened over there, on the government side, because you have Andrew Hastie, Julian Leeser, Senator Abetz, Senator Stoker and Senator Fawcett who have all put their names, and the Liberal Party's position, behind those 18 recommendations.
And what has the government done? It has rejected four of those recommendations in whole, it has rejected six of them in part and it has completely ignored one. And the one it has completely ignored is the subject of this motion here today. It has completely ignored the call from the Liberal-dominated Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to produce advice from the Solicitor-General that shows that this legislation is constitutional.
It is farcical for the government to say that they can't produce it, because they'll be waiving privilege. In fact, if they even talk about the content of the Solicitor-General's advice, they are waiving privilege. And when do they do that? They do it all the time. They do it every time they talk about the medevac legislation. Then they talk all about the content of the Solicitor-General's advice; they're more than happy to put it out there for the public to see. But when it comes to a fundamental question on this legislation, which is designed to keep Australians safe from terrorists, from foreign fighters, then this government—well, they just go weak. They cannot produce, for the parliament or the Australian public, the advice from the Solicitor-General that shows that their approach—which, as Senator McAllister has pointed out, is four years late, because the UK parliament did this very same thing in 2015—on this bill is constitutional.
We will support this legislation because we want to see Australians safe. But we put on the record that we have concerns, and the government has yet to allay them, as to whether this legislation is constitutional. (Time expired)