Wednesday, 24 June 2015
That the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 15 September 2015:
The payment of cash or other inducements by the Commonwealth of Australia in exchange for the turn back of asylum seeker boats, with reference to:
(a) the reply of the Government to the order for production of documents ordered by the Senate in the amended general business notice of motion no. 724 moved by Senator Hanson-Young on 16 June 2015;
(b) any money paid to anyone on board a vessel en route to Australia or New Zealand by any Customs, Immigration or other Commonwealth officer from September 2013 to date;
(c) the facilitation or authorisation of the payment of any money to anyone on board a vessel en route to Australia or New Zealand by any Customs, Immigration or other Commonwealth officer from September 2013 to date;
(d) any payments made to any such vessels’ captain, crew or passengers;
(e) any payments made in relation to the passage of any such vessels, their passengers or crew;
(f) the legality, under international and domestic law, of the above matters;
(g) the damage caused by the above matters to the bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia;
(h) the extent to which any such bribes constitute an incentive for people smuggling operations to Australia;
(i) whether it is standard practice for Australia to pay cash or other inducements to the captains or crew of boats carrying asylum seekers and, if so, how long this practice has been carried on and how much has been spent on this policy in the past, including what payments have been made to particular individuals and the amount of any such payments;
(j) any related matters.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
This motion has been brought in to establish a Senate inquiry into this whole sordid affair. If you remember, two days ago the Senate disagreed with the government's claim that they were not going to give us any information, because of public-interest immunity. This is an issue where the Australian public want to know what has been going on, how much money is being paid to people smugglers and what on earth the government has done to induce the people smugglers' business model.
I support the Greens' motion to refer a matter, relating to the alleged bribery of people smugglers by Australian government officers, to a Senate committee. I have my differences with the Greens' policy on climate change but I give credit where credit is due. This is an important motion, which I support. There is a grave allegation that the Prime Minister of Australia and his government have authorised a $30,000 cash payment to Indonesian people smugglers. This issue is not about stopping the boats; this issue is about whether a crime has been committed by the Australian Prime Minister and his Liberal cabinet colleagues.
Has the leader of our nation committed a crime by authorising and ordering cash payments to international criminals? I want to know and so do many Australians. The only way this question can be answered is to examine all the documents associated with this incident.
As this has obviously turned into a debate—contrary to the rules—could I enter it, for a minute! The Greens continue to try to find fault with a policy that has actually stopped the boats. The things they complain about are, principally, matters that were introduced under the Labor government. At the time, the Greens never raised a whimper about the Labor government introducing Manus and Nauru. They never raised a whimper about children in detention, in those days. Now there is a different government, they continue to set up these useless committees that never go anywhere. There are already two committees looking at the same thing, in relation to offshore detention—set up by Labor, I might add—and this will be another waste of the Senate's resources.