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Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Page: 1746


Mr BRIGGS (9:11 AM) —I second the motion the member for Cook has moved to suspend standing orders to allow me to move the motion on the Notice Paper in relation to the decision by the government to establish a detention facility in Inverbrackie without consultation. The member for Cook is doing a fantastic job and has just done a fantastic job in holding this government to account on this failure to manage Australia’s borders.

Last Monday my community was ambushed by a government which has lost control of Australia’s borders—so much so that the Prime Minister was actually in the Adelaide Hills the day before the announcement and she failed absolutely to mention a word of the planned facility, which was just 17 kilometres down the road from where she was on the Sunday. Her defence is that she could not ask the community what they thought because she was following cabinet convention. Well, that has not stopped her in the past, it must be said: this is a Prime Minister who sent a staffer to a National Security Committee meeting in the past, as referred to in the Australian during the election. This is a Prime Minister who does not care too much about cabinet convention when it suits. The Prime Minister has used this as an excuse for her lack of courage to face my community last Sunday and tell them what her plan was. She is either incompetent or she lacked the courage to do so.

This motion seeks to do what the government should have done in the first place. In fact, it was actually the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship who promised he would do this in that first place. This minister, on Perth radio on 17 December, said, ‘I would talk to, and we would talk to, the relevant shire there and the authorities about what we are contemplating there and, if we were to do so, get their feedback.’ Well, he did not speak to the Adelaide Hills Council. He called them an hour before the decision was made—in fact, an official called an hour before the decision was made. The Labor Premier, Mike Rann, got a call an hour before the decision was made. He used parliament in South Australia yesterday to say how angry he was, how disappointed he was, that this minister and this Prime Minister have failed to consult with the South Australian government on this decision.

But the minister went further on Perth radio. He said: ‘But I’d be more than happy to talk to local communities.’ What a complete and utter fib! You have not been anywhere near the Adelaide Hills, Minister. You were not there last Thursday night.


Mr Albanese —We were sitting!


Mr BRIGGS —Well, I got there! I got to the meeting last Thursday night. Where was the minister? He failed to attend, he failed to consult and he said, ‘The cabinet has decided to make this decision; bad luck to the community.’ Now, when we try to move for a parliamentary committee, the minister says, ‘That’s nothing but a political organisation.’ What about the climate change committee? What about the Murray-Darling Basin committee? Are they political organisations as well, Minister? You have lost control of this issue, Minister, and you should front up to the Adelaide Hills. You should front up and ask the people’s views on what they think of your decision without having consulted them.

This motion should be supported, because my community deserve to have their say. Let the sunshine flow in. Let the committee raise these issues. If this could happen to my community, it could happen to any community represented in this place. We had the member for Hughes yesterday asking very relevant questions of the Prime Minister, and all he got was shrill abuse and no ruling out of the facility at Holsworthy. What about the member for McEwen? What will happen when Puckapunyal is used as one of these facilities? What will the member for McEwen say to his community? If the government can get away with this today, they can get away with it next week and the week after.

This motion should be debated because my community deserve the right to have their voices heard. They deserve the right to have their concerns raised in this place. Premier Mike Rann raised their concerns in the South Australian parliament yesterday; why can’t my community have them raised in the Australian parliament? This government have lost control of Australia’s borders. They are all at sea. This minister is all at sea. This decision was known last Sunday. The community should have been told last Sunday by the Prime Minister. They should have had had the opportunity to raise these issues. It was a cowardly thing to do to roll up and use the Adelaide Hills as a photo opportunity but to fail to consult.

Where are the South Australian members of this place today? The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing was here, but he has left because he is ashamed of the way the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship is treating South Australia. How will the member for Hindmarsh explain to his community the way that this community is being treated? How will he explain to members of the community in Hindmarsh how South Australia is being treated by this government?

This parliamentary committee is not a political organisation. Parliamentary committees are not political organisations. They allow a voice for the community. This motion should be supported to give my community a voice. (Time expired)