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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4937


Mr OAKESHOTT (Lyne) (18:24): Thank you, Deputy Speaker and thank you for stepping in where I had a clash with the role of Deputy Speaker and in speaking; I appreciate it a lot. This is an important report and an important process for a difficult issue in a somewhat difficult parliament. In speaking to this report as a member of the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Immigration Detention Network, I thank all the committee members involved, of all political persuasions. I think that, on one of the mostly hotly contested political issues of the moment, we have got as close to consensus as possible on as many points as possible. I particularly thank the committee chair, Daryl Melham, for his work in that regard. I also thank deputy chair, Sarah Hanson-Young and the opposition spokesman on migration issues, Scott Morrison. I think that, for a lot of this inquiry, those three people in particular worked well together—believe it or not—in looking at the issues rather than at the politics.

My interest in being involved is in the longer term strategy with regard to detention and migration policy in Australia, where too often the focus is on the day to day and the front pages of particular tabloids in an effort to score political points. That leads to poor policy and has an impact on people's lives. I find the language in this sector of public policy extraordinary in the way it depersonalises people's experiences; it turns what is essentially a very personal experience for the many people involved into something incredibly burdensome with regard to bureaucracy. The language alone is an example of that. The language of irregular maritime arrivals is just one example of how we depersonalise what is a very personal experience for all involved.

As well, as a member of this committee, I want through this process to try to do what I can to explain many of the complexities in this area of public policies to the communities I represent. I think most people would not be aware that there are various types of detention in Australia today. Most people would just think that there is one form: immigration detention centres, with lots of barbed wire, at various locations around Australia and that people who have come without visas or, for example, by boat are just thrown into these facilities. There is more going on in this area of public policy; there is immigration residential housing, there is transit accommodation, there are alternative places of detention; and there are residential determinations and the equivalence of community detention. So there are a range of strategies in place that governments of all persuasions are trying to implement to get the best outcomes for taxpayers and for the individuals and families involved.

I have made some additional comments to this report and, whilst I endorse the 31 recommendations made and sincerely hope they are adopted by government as quickly and thoroughly as possible, I want to highlight tonight the additional comments I have made. I am particularly pleased to see greater confidence emerging through many of the successes of community detention, for example, and, whilst it is a politically sensitive debate, if we are honest about what works and what does not work in this area of public policy, community based detention is one of the success stories that are happening now, and I would hope that public policy comes first and not the politics and that there is a greater investment in community based detention in Australia as a consequence of its success. I am pleased that this report recognises that. As well, I am pleased that this report addresses some of the anomalies regarding the rights of appeal to ASIO's security checks. I think in Australia we are shy of allowing people to question our intelligence bodies when they, in any normal circumstances, would have that right of appeal under law, yet we do not, for some reason—and whether it is just the history and the culture of this issue in Australia—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! It being 6.30 pm, in accordance with standing order 192 the debate is interrupted. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.