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Thursday, 26 May 2011
Page: 4843

Asylum Seekers


Mr MORRISON (Cook) (14:25): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. I refer the minister to his complementary protection legislation, passed by the parliament yesterday, that now enables asylum seekers to make claims under the United Nations Convention against Torture. Given that Malaysia is not a signatory to the convention, can the minister confirm that the 800 asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia may be eligible to have their transfer prevented and to remain in Australia while a claim under the convention regarding their potential treatment in Malaysia is assessed under the new laws?


Mr BOWEN (McMahonMinister for Immigration and Citizenship) (14:25): I cannot confirm that, because it is completely untrue, as the member for Cook well knows. He has completely misrepresented the complementary protection legislation once again, as he has previously, and completely misrepresented the arrangements with Malaysia.

I am happy to go through this methodically for the benefit of the member for Cook. The Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of Malaysia have released a statement that outlines the agreement reached by them. That statement says that Prime Ministers Najib and Gillard have agreed that core elements of this bilateral arrangement will include that 'transferees will be treated with dignity and respect and in accordance with human rights standards'. That is what the agreement between the two prime ministers says very clearly. It has been confirmed by the Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia since then that these transferees will be treated humanely under the terms of that agreement.

The member for Cook chooses to misrepresent the situation in relation to Malaysia. The member for Cook comes in here and cries his crocodile tears about the situation for asylum seekers in Malaysia, at the same time as criticising us for taking too many asylum seekers—for taking 4,000 asylum seekers—out of Malaysia. The hypocrisy of the member for Cook is exceeded only by this point: as the House would recall, last November the member for Cook proposed an arrangement similar to that proposed by the government in relation to a transfer agreement, except that instead of Malaysia he proposed Iran. I wonder how he would have gone negotiating with President Ahmadinejad the protections that this government has negotiated.

The SPEAKER: Order! Before calling the member for New England, I am reliably informed that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the election of the member for New England to one of those smaller parliaments in Australia, the New South Wales parliament. He has had 20 years of service in both the state and the federal parliament, and I think that that length of service should be acknowledged.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

The SPEAKER: That is not the reason he is getting the call! He is the only one standing.