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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 491


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (11:34): I am pleased to rise to speak today on the Migration Amendment (Visa Revalidation and Other Measures) Bill 2016. I would like to respond to comments made by the member for Griffith during this debate. The member for Griffith, at the start of her speech, referred to a Trump-style Muslim ban and then, throughout her contribution to this debate, criticised that the minister here in Australia could have similar Trump-style powers. Now, this is a very important point. I would like to completely rebut what the member for Griffith said and show it as completely false.

Firstly, the change that the US have made to their visa policy is not a ban; it is a 90-day suspension. It is not a Muslim ban; it applies to seven countries only. Those country are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. By any stretch of the imagination, those countries are anything but democracies. They are countries that have significant issues with security in their nations and significant issues with terrorism being inflicted upon their own people in those countries. It only applies to those seven countries. The Islamic world is estimated at around about 1.6 billion people around the world. If you look at all the countries that are not affected by this ban—countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, and I could go on and on—88 per cent of people of Islamic faith are not affected by the temporary suspension that was made to the US visa policy. Now, I am not here to defend that policy or say whether it is right or wrong. What I am here to do is point out that to call it a Muslim ban, as the member for Griffith did at the dispatch box, is misleading and false. It is not fit that an Australian member of parliament come into this chamber and make such misleading statements. Another reason the claim that it is a Muslim ban is false is that people in Iraq, whether they are Christians, Mandaeans or whatever religion they are, may be affected by the temporary suspension but someone of the Islamic faith from Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan or Nigeria will not be affected. When a person of the Mandaean faith can be affected by the ban while a person of the Islamic faith cannot be affected, how can it possibly be called a Muslim ban?

This is very dangerous. This description, claiming that this is something that could be done here in Australia, causes division and hatred and is based on a falsehood. I say: shame on the member for Griffith. I invite her to come back into this chamber, correct the record, apologise to this House and apologise to the nation. We have a difficult enough situation in the world at the moment with terrorism. We do not need members of the Australian parliament making false statements in this House that only cause more division and more tension.

The legislation grants someone from China a 10-year visa to come to Australia, and this is something that we should all welcome very much. We have seen the growth of China in our lifetimes. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty into the middle class, with the ability to travel. We should never forget how that rise out of poverty occurred. It occurred not through aid or special measures; it occurred simply because the Chinese government, after years of going down the communist track of collectivisation of industry and allowing government to control everything, saw the light and realised it would be best for their economy to open it up to market forces and allow people to own property. We have seen in our lifetimes the greatest uplift of people out of poverty probably in human history. That is a great bonus for our country. There are hundreds of millions of people in China now who represent a market that we can attract to become tourists to Australia, to create more jobs and more wealth in this country. So anything we can do to make it easier for those people to get a visa—to make it easier for them to get a longer, 10-year visa—is something we all should be in favour of. We would hope that, when those tourists come to Australia, if they have a 10-year visa, they do not come just once; we want them to come multiple times, time after time.

We have so many wonderful tourist attractions for people to see in this country. As an example of some of the wonderful tourist attractions that we have in this country, over the recent Christmas break I had the opportunity to take my small kayak out onto Port Hacking.

Mr Hunt: Ah!

Mr CRAIG KELLY: Yes, I see the minister at the table. I actually defeated him once in a kayak race, if I remember correctly—but I digress. Port Hacking is in Sydney's southern waterways. The water there was absolutely pristine. You could see the sandy bottom two to three metres down and you could see the fish. This is all within a short distance of Sydney's CBD. This is a tourist attraction that I have in my electorate for people from China. We also have Garie Beach, a most magnificent place within the Royal National Park. Every weekend, so many Chinese tourists come to experience Garie Beach and visit the Figure 8 rock pools further south.

It is also important, in this bill, not only that we have the 10-year visa period but that the minister has the ability to make some of the changes that are needed. If a visa needs to be cancelled or a revalidation required, in this day and age the minister, surely, must have this discretion. For members of the Labor Party to go on about how terrible this is and to falsely link it to what the member for Griffith described as a Muslim ban is a disgrace to this parliament. We need to do everything we can to stop the false division that we see. Unfortunately, the member for Griffith failed in that task today.

The other thing that we hope to see in years to come is for this 10-year visa to be extended to many other countries. I would like to see in years to come this extended to many other countries that we deal with, because tourism is such an important sector of the economy. If we look at where our strengths will be in this economy in years to come, where will we be in 10 or 15 years time if we do not fix our corporate tax rate? Where will we be in 10 or 15 years time if our electricity costs are two and three times those of our major competitors? What industries will we have that will drive the prosperity of this nation in years to come? If you look at our industries, clearly our tourism industry is one of the most important that we have because it creates more opportunities for hotel construction, which creates jobs for all the tradesmen—the builders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and landscapers—constructing tourism, not to mention our food suppliers. Every time a Chinese tourist or other overseas tourist comes to this country, they need to be fed. We have some of the best produce and some of the best wines that they can sample when they come here. This all increases the demand for the supply of goods from Australia and, therefore, increases employment opportunities and wealth creation opportunities for this country.

I hope that at the conclusion of this debate, or sometime during the day, the member for Griffith reconsiders her words and that she considers the potential division she created by her false labelling of the changes in the US visa system. I hope she comes back in here and says that she may have misspoken and corrects the record, because we cannot allow this to happen in the Australian parliament. It is one thing for some journalistic rags to make these false statements; it is completely another thing for elected members of the Australian House of Representatives to come into this parliament and say such things. I hope the member for Griffith reconsiders her approach to this and takes the opportunity that this parliament provides to come back into this parliament and correct the record. With that, I will conclude my speech by saying that I commend this bill to the House.