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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 8693


Senator FEENEY (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for Defence) (18:00): I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

Appropriation (Implementation of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers) Bill (No. 1) 2012-2013

Appropriation (Implementation of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers) Bill (No. 2) 2012 2013 provides additional funding to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship for:

requirements for departmental equity injections; and

requirements to create or acquire administered assets and to discharge administered liabilities.

The total appropriation being sought in Appropriation (Implementation of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers) Bill (No. 2) 2012 2013 is $267,980,000.

The Government will provide the Department of Immigration and Citizenship with $267,380,000 of administered assets and liabilities funding in this Bill for the Offshore Asylum Seeker Management program. This is to meet the initial capital costs required to establish regional processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island, as recommended by the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers.

I note that the reestablishment of offshore processing in these places has the support of the Coalition.

The Government will also be providing the Department of Immigration and Citizenship with $600,000 of departmental equity injections funding in this Bill for the Settlement Services program. This is for the departmental capital costs associated with implementation of the recommendation of the Expert Panel to increase the Humanitarian Migration program to 20,000 places.

These are vital elements that go to the implementation of a suite of measures that can break the people smuggling trade and save lives at sea by preventing these dangerous journeys in the first place.

We want to remove the incentive for people to travel to Australia by boat, whether it's by providing more offshore refugee places, removing Special Humanitarian Program family reunion concessions for boat arrivals, or transferring post-13 August arrivals to Nauru and Manus Island.

The way in which this Government has been implementing the Expert Panel's recommendations provides clear evidence of our determination to break the people smugglers' business model.

But this is only the beginning. Transfers continue to Nauru, while Manus Island will shortly start receiving arrivals - and work is continuing on both islands to increase capacity.

Of course as we continue to implement more of the Panel's recommendations, we will start to see a greater impact on reducing boat numbers.

Should the Opposition, or the Greens for that matter, choose to stop hindering and start helping the Government to save lives, they would support the Malaysia Arrangement - an agreement the Expert Panel acknowledged was the pathway to a truly regional and sustainable solution to irregular migration.

 

Appropriation (Implementation of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers) Bill (No. 2) 2012-2013

There are two bills being proposed at this time:

Appropriation (Implementation of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers) Bill (No. 1) 2012-2013; and

Appropriation (Implementation of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers) Bill (No. 2) 2012-2013.

These bills seek urgent appropriation authority from Parliament for the additional expenditure of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

These bills require immediate passage to provide additional appropriation to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

These bills address the increased costs of irregular maritime arrivals resulting from higher rates of arrivals and the implementation of the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers (the Expert Panel), including capital works and services for regional processing facilities on Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

The total appropriation being sought through these two bills is $1,674,982,000.

Turning now to Appropriation (Implementation of the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers) Bill (No. 1) 2012-2013; the total appropriation being sought in this bill is a little over $1.4 billion.

This includes $110.6 million for Houston Report measures, including:

•   $92.043 million to increase the Humanitarian Program by an additional 6,250 places to 20,000 places per annum from 2012-13;

•   $8.181 million to increase to the Family Reunion Stream of the Permanent Migration Program by 4,000 places; and

•   $10 million to fund capacity building initiatives in regional countries.

It also includes $1.296 billion to meet expenses arising from the management of higher levels of irregular maritime arrivals, and the operational expenses associated with the implementation of the Expert Panel's recommendations to establish regional processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island. This includes a $186 million accrual from 2011-12.

It is only this party — only this Government — that is fully committed to delivering a proper and sustainable regional solution through the full implementation of the recommendations of the Expert Panel, which was led by Angus Houston.

The funding sought in these appropriations is consistent with and already budgeted for in MYEFO.

No one should doubt the Government's commitment to implementing the 22 recommendations of the Expert Panel, to break the people smugglers' business model and help to stop people dying at sea.

This suite of measures, as outlined in the Panel's

recommendations, is the only way we will begin to see a reduction in the rate of boat arrivals

And that means, of course, the immediate implementation of regional processing on Nauru and Papua New Guinea which we are doing swiftly and effectively.

We have almost 400 people on Nauru currently and transfers will begin shortly to Manus Island.

Nauru will have a capacity of 1,500 beds — it currently has about 500 places — and we expect to see 600 places in Papua New Guinea as works continue on those facilities.

As I referred to earlier, the Government has also increased Australia's humanitarian intake to 20,000 — providing increased resettlement options for people in need from priority regions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Only last week I announced the makeup of that intake, targeting those in most need, especially vulnerable people in camps around the world.

We are providing more opportunities for vulnerable and displaced people to pursue safer resettlement options in Australia — we're

telling desperate people that there is a better way than taking a dangerous boat journey — a better way as part of an orderly humanitarian program.

The message here is that taking a dangerous boat journey will provide no advantage — there is no visa awaiting people on arrival, no speedy outcome and no special treatment. This tells the lie to the people smugglers' spin.

In the meantime, the cost of processing and accommodating asylum seekers is expensive, it always has been. But the only way to reduce these costs is to have fewer people arriving by boat.

No one should doubt our commitment to doing that, but it is something we could do much more effectively with the implementation of the Malaysia Arrangement.

We know that those opposite for so long stood in the way of offshore processing legislation, refusing to let the Government implement its border protection policies — because they don't want the Government to succeed.

We know the Malaysia Arrangement can indeed break the people smugglers' business model — its time to allow it to be implemented.

No one can deny that the combination of regional processing on Nauru and PNG, along with returns to Malaysia, would not stop the flow of boats and provide that iron clad deterrent.

There is still some way to go before we see the real effects of the policies the Government has been implementing — and people smugglers will continue to test our resolve.

But there can also be no doubt that we are starting to see positive ¬if only early — results.

To date, the Government has facilitated a number of voluntary removals to Sri Lanka, with more than 70 people choosing not to engage Australia's protection obligations and to instead return home.

With more returns expected, this is further proof that people smugglers only sell lies and make false promises about what awaits people in Australia.

Debate adjourned.