Monday, 14 July 2014
Senator Hanson-Young has effectively sought leave to put the motion in two parts. Senator Hanson-Young, when this sort of request is normally received it is because a senator indicates they want to vote differently. As they are both part of your motion, I suspect you will not be seeking to vote differently on them.
That the Senate—
(a) requests that the Government:
(i) update the chamber on operations undertaken on the high seas which relate to the two asylum seeker boats intercepted by Australian authorities in the past 2 weeks, and
(ii) disclose the whereabouts of the 153 people, including 37 children, who are believed to have left India over 3 weeks ago by boat; and
(b) calls on the Government to cease the current 'on water' screening and transfer practices which fall short of Australia's international protection obligations.
In relation to part (a) of the motion, on the issue of the 153 asylum seekers, the government notes that the matter is currently before the High Court and accordingly will be making no further statement. We respect the court's processes and await the court's decision. We will work constructively and in good faith with the High Court. In relation to the return of 41 Sri Lankan nationals who attempted to arrive illegally by boat to Australia as part of a maritime people-smuggling venture, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection issued a statement on Monday, 7 July 2014 in relation to this matter.
In relation to part (b) of the motion, the government does act and will continue to act in accordance with our international obligations, including applicable international conventions and to protect the safety of life at sea. We are continuing with the measures introduced by the former Labor government, who used these measures on at least 30 occasions to return people to Sri Lanka where they were found to not engage Australia's obligations. At the same time, we will not allow people smugglers to try to exploit them and manipulate Australia's support of these conventions as a tool to undermine Australia's strong border protection regime—that is, stopping the boats and deaths at sea.
Before I put the question, I will revisit the discussion we had earlier so that everyone is clear for future cases. It is not a matter of seeking leave if a senator wishes to put a question separately; it is a matter for the chair to use their discretion. The general practice of the Senate is that if a senator indicates that they want to vote differently on any part of a motion or question, that is justification for the chair to exercise their discretion under those circumstances. I hope that clarifies that matter for any future situations.
The question is that part (a) of general business notice of motion No. 317 be agreed to.