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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 80


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (16:55): It is a great pleasure this afternoon to rise and speak on the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2015. This is another piece of legislation that this coalition government is introducing to ensure that we maintain strong protection of our borders, and any debate about migration in this country must start with the tremendous effort and the enormous contribution that migration has made. It has made this nation a better place, a stronger country and a more prosperous country than it otherwise would be.

If we go back to 1945, there were about 7.4 million people living in Australia. Over that past 70 years, seven million people have migrated here from almost every corner of the world. Over that past 70 years we have almost had more people migrate to this country than were actually citizens of Australia back in 1945. And we know from the last census, in 2011, that one in four people in Australia were born overseas. If you look around the world, it is hard to think of a nation that has had such successful migration over so many years and that has added so much to the prosperity of the nation. Why have we achieved this? We have achieved it for a few reasons. Yes, we say we are a multicultural nation, but above that—more important—the aim of our migration has been assimilation and integration. For every generation, for every group of migrants that came to Australia, we held out those Australian values that they adapted to, including respect and equal rights for women, freedom of religion, freedom to change your religion—or freedom not to practise any religion at all—freedom of speech, and equality under the law. These are the values that have built a tolerant, diverse and harmonious society that has made Australia the best country in the world to live in.

In my electorate, only last weekend we had celebrations for Chinese New Year. But we did not just have the Chinese community celebrating the new year by themselves; we had the celebration at Moorebank Sports Club, with all of the local community there celebrating. It was the same with our Diwali celebrations in my electorate at the end of last year: it was not just the Indian community celebrating Diwali; Australians from all backgrounds and all walks of life joined in and celebrated Diwali with our Indian community. That is what has made Australia this great country. It is because we are trying to integrate together, to try to live together as one nation and share each other's customs and cultures, But, foremost, our Australian culture, our Australian customs, are front and centre of that.

Back in 2006, a decade ago—in fact, Australia Day 2006, a little more than 10 years and one week ago—the then Prime Minister, John Howard, said, when he was talking about national security:

It’s also about having a far sighted, strong, well thought out defence policy. It is also about having an uncompromising view about the fundamental right of this country to protect its borders. It’s about this nation saying to the world we are a generous open hearted people taking more refugees on a per capita basis than any nation except Canada, we have a proud record of welcoming people from 140 different nations. But we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.

That must be the way that this nation determines its immigration policy. We have seen the results when people think that is not correct—perhaps a soft, leftist, green view of the world, where the words of Mr Howard were somehow considered politically incorrect. We saw the results of that during the past six years of the Labor government. We had chaos and confusion on our borders when 50,000 people came here, mainly sailing from the island of Java down to Christmas Island. That undid the confidence we had in our migration program. Thankfully, the coalition government came in and, against all predictions, was able to implement policies that stopped the boats and restored order to our borders and our migration program.

We have seen what is currently happening in Europe, where they have not followed the policies of John Howard. They thought they could have open borders. We have seen chaos in Europe. Germany is a nation that has almost impaled itself on political correctness. What do you expect to happen if you open your borders and allow 800,000 fit young men to migrate into your country who do not speak the language and have different attitudes about how you treat women? And now we see social chaos in Europe because those countries have not decided who comes to their country and the circumstances in which they come.

Although we have had great success with our migration policy for many decades, there are some cracks appearing. There are people who have migrated to this country and taken all the benefits and opportunities this country has to offer, yet they have been prepared to engage in terrorist acts against this nation. We have seen female genital mutilation on the rise in this country. We must clamp down on these things. We must accept that we have some problems in our migration system. If we are going to continue to be the great nation of migrants in the future, we cannot do it if we allow these cracks to grow wider. And that is one of the things this legislation addresses.

Specifically, this bill amends the statutory framework in the Migration Act 1958 relating to the determination process for people seeking protection on complementary protection grounds, as distinct from the refugee framework in the Migration Act. Complementary protection is a category of protection for people who do not qualify as refugees but who also cannot be returned to their country of origin as there is a real risk that they would suffer significant harm that would engage one of Australia's significant non-refoulement obligations under the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Why is this bill necessary? This bill is necessary because there have recently been several instances where persons have been found to meet the criteria for non-refoulement on a wide range of grounds, including selling adult movies in their home country and drinking or supplying alcohol in countries which punish those activities, despite the fact that the government, consistent with our international obligations, did not intend for such cases to be covered by the legislation.

There have also been several cases of persons found to meet the current complementary protection criteria—that means they are allowed to stay in Australia—who have been involved in serious crimes in their home country or are fleeing their home country due to their association with criminal gangs. So when the member for Kingsford Smith says at the dispatch box that Labor opposes this legislation, what they are opposing is the right of this nation to say to someone who was part of a criminal gang overseas or involved in serious crimes in their home country, 'Sorry, you don't qualify for Australian citizenship. You'll return to your home country.' And the member for Kingsford Smith's idea that this would somehow allow women in fear of female genital mutilation to be sent back to their home country is complete and utter nonsense. We have already had too many instances of female genital mutilation this country, and we need to crack down on it. This country will not send young women back home where they are at risk of having that barbaric and medieval practice forced upon them.

Specifically, this bill will provide that a real risk of significant harm to a person must relate to all areas in the receiving country. It must clarify that a person must face a significant risk of significant harm in the receiving country rather than risk that is purely indiscriminate. It will clarify that a person will not face a real risk of significant harm if protection measures are available to the person through state or non-state actors in the receiving country. And it will clarify that a person who can take reasonable steps to modify their behaviour so as to avoid significant harm does not face real risk of that harm as a necessary and foreseeable consequence of their removal to a receiving country. The practice of female genital mutilation does not fall into that category, but those who come to this country who try and use complementary protection measures as the reason and who are involved in criminal activity or in criminal gangs is what this legislation is addressing.

Finally, this legislation closely aligns the current statutory complementary protection and refugee frameworks in the Migration Act. The bill restores the government's intended interpretation of Australia's complementary protection obligations. This is necessary to ensure they are consistent with Australia's international obligations. Only those who are in need of Australia's protection will be eligible for a protection visa on complementary protection grounds. This bill strikes the balance between giving those who need protection on those complementary grounds and ensuring we keep our borders safe and this nation secure. I commend this bill to the House.