Tuesday, 15 October 2019
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 163 standing in my name for today relating to border control.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) after six years under this Liberal-National Government's watch, from 1 July 2014 to 31 August 2019:
1. 95,943 people have come through Australia's airports and sought asylum, as is their right to do, and
2. in nearly the same period, bridging visas have blown out from 94,000 to almost 230,000 – an increase of over 140%,
(ii) of the protection visa applications decided by the Department of Home Affairs in that period, 62,732 – 84.2% – were rejected,
(iii) those waiting in Australia on a bridging visa as their claims for asylum are assessed are often being exploited and trafficked by labour hire companies and criminal syndicates,
(iv) stakeholders have expressed concern as racketeering around visas and asylum applications have been allowed to flourish,
(v) the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, Mr Wood, remarked on the blowout of airplane arrivals and stated 'Organised crime and illegitimate labour hire companies are using this loophole...', and
(vi) the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Dutton, stated that: '...If you cannot control your borders, you cannot govern the country'; and
(b) condemns the Morrison Government and the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Dutton, for losing control of Australia's borders and allowing exploitation, slavery and trafficking to go unchecked, having a devastating impact on workers and their families, and the ability to do basic mathematics and provide accurate data to the Senate on the number of people who have been trafficked to Australia under their watch.
The government opposes this motion. In the last three years under this government, 4,780 protection visas have been granted to people who have arrived lawfully by air. This is 31 per cent less than the 6,900 visas granted under Labor in its last three years of office. The government continues to manage our migration program by maintaining secure borders and clearing the backlog of the 50,000 illegal maritime arrivals who arrived between 2007 and 2013 and applied for protection.
The Labor Party has been running this line about people arriving by plane to seek asylum since the election, and it is deeply counterproductive and dangerous. Attempting to outflank Minister Peter Dutton from the right, the Labor Party are co-opting the language of Mr Dutton and Senator Hanson on border security and implying that we have something to fear from people seeking asylum. Surely the fact that One Nation have joined this campaign ought to give Labor pause for thought. The facts are that, if people have a claim for asylum, they ought to be allowed to make it in our country, because, despite the last 20 years of cruelty, we are still a signatory to the refugee convention and people should be allowed to claim asylum, no matter how they arrive in this country. Most dangerously, Labor is effectively egging on Mr Dutton to crack down harder on refugees. He's already wrecked and destroyed enough lives and he needs no further encouragement.