Senate debates

Thursday, 13 May 2021


Consideration of Legislation

9:49 am

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

It's urgent because people are dying, and it's urgent because this measure that the government has put in place could be rolled over in just a few days time. It is critical. This is our last day here for a month, and we know that there's the possibility that this government could just roll over this issue and keep Australians away from home—lock them out from home—while they are getting sick and they are dying in India. Isn't the fact that people are dying one of the most urgent things we could possibly be considering here? The fate of Australians who should be able to come home is why this is urgent. That's why we need to be discussing this today. The Morrison government has failed to put in place appropriate quarantine facilities. If we don't discuss this motion today, what pressure is there on the federal government to actually put in place the appropriate quarantine facilities? If we don't discuss this today, we will just go on, for another few months, basically blocking our borders to Australians—blocking Australians from their constitutional right to be able to come home.

This is absolutely urgent. This is absolutely right at the core of what this Senate should be discussing, because this Senate is here as a watch on government. We are here as a chamber to oversight what happens. We are here in control of our own destiny. This legislation is entirely appropriate for discussion today; it should be discussed today. We need to have measures in place so that we can keep Australians safe. We need to have measures in place that allow appropriate quarantine facilities. We need to keep the pressure up on this government to set up quarantine facilities like Howard Springs right across the country to allow Australians who are in India to come home. If we don't, then it is on the heads of this government when more people die.

I just want to finish up by saying we did not put measures in place like this when COVID was racing through Europe. The only reason this measure has been put in place is because it is India—because this government does not see Indian Australians as Australians; it sees them as Indians. This is a racist measure that this government has put in place. It is impacting upon people who are of Indian heritage and— (Time expired)


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