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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20040


Mr MURPHY (4:30 PM) —The member for Ryan's motion recognises the contribution of the Federal Magistrates Service to the resolution of family disputes. However, with great respect to the member for Ryan, paragraph (3) of his motion ignores the principal reason the government is providing four new magistrates for Queensland, Newcastle, Adelaide and Melbourne. For the record, the real reason the Federal Magistrates Service is increasing its number of magistrates can be found in the Federal Magistrates Service Annual Report 2001-02, which on page 10 states:

The workload of the court in its general federal law jurisdictions has expanded, especially during the last quarter of 2001-02 when the court received a significant number of matters relating to migration.

The annual report goes on to state that, in addition to the quantum of cases flooding in from its inherent migration jurisdiction, that jurisdiction itself has been greatly expanded. It states:

The court has had a major expansion of its jurisdiction. At the time of its establishment the court was given jurisdiction in relation to most administrative law matters. However, jurisdiction in relation to applications to review visa-related decisions made under the Migration Act 1958 was specifically excluded from the scope of the court's work. That was changed from 2 October 2001 when the court was given concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Court.

The express and implied assertions in this motion give the false belief, in my view, that this increase in the Federal Magistrates Service is somehow a good thing. The truth about the increase in the Federal Magistrates Service paints quite a different picture. There has been an explosion in appeals to the Federal Court, principally in the area of migration law. Far from hailing the expansion of the Federal Magistrates Service as a good thing, the real necessity for this government to increase the services is a tragic admission, in my view, of the government's failed migration law policies. The failure of the government's migration law policies reflects an ever increasing spiral in migration appeal cases—a barometer of market dissatisfaction against an ever increasing number of departmental and tribunal decisions.

Again, with respect to the member for Ryan, he cannot move this motion seriously believing it represents some great achievement of the government. Rather, if the government were serious about addressing this issue, it would go to the heart of the matter and implement policies that would lower the number of migration appeals. If the government were serious about its immigration policy, it would identify ways of making its visa system more equitable. I see that on a daily basis in my federal electorate office of Lowe.

The Howard government should immediately stop using immigration policy for its own cynical short-term political interests as an instrument to pander to the worst instincts in our society and, in so doing, further divide the Australian community. In conclusion, at a time when we have alarmingly low birth rates in Australia and recognise the serious consequences that that issue poses for our future, there has never been a better time for the government to do something to increase our migrant intake to the many parts of Australia which are in desperate need of the economic benefits associated with increased population growth. That would be in everybody's interests.