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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3833


Mr RANDALL (Canning) (12:46): I am very pleased to speak on the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2011. As we know, the purpose of this bill is to amend the Migration Act to introduce a statutory regime for assessing claims that may engage Australia's nonrefoulement—in other words, return obligations under various international human rights treaties, otherwise known as complementary protection. The bill proposes to assess such claims under a single protection visa application process, which means applicants who are found not to be refugees but who are owed protection on complementary protection grounds will be entitled to be granted protection visas with the same conditions and entitlements as refugees. In turn, the unsuccessful applicants will have administrative review rights equivalent to a person seeking protection under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. That is the purpose of the bill. We all know that, and I am not going to regurgitate what previous speakers have said.

In fact, there have been some very good speeches made on this today. I compliment the member for Cook—Mr Morrison, the shadow minister—and the member for Fadden, Mr Robert. I sat in this chamber and listened to their contributions, and I listened to the member for Mitchell, Mr Hawke, in my room. They gave very good examples of why this legislation is bad, and I will address some of that in a moment. On the other hand, the member for La Trobe, Ms Smyth, obviously had her staff write some notes, which she regurgitated—so out of touch with reality that anyone in Australia listening to this broadcast would realise that it was just the ideological mantra of her party, which is seeking to ram its policy down the throats of Australians, who do not want it.

At the end of the day, why are we in this position? The reason is that when this government came to power in the fantastic Kevin '07 election there were only four people in detention. What have we got today? In detention throughout Australia, and now it is going to be elsewhere in the world, there are over 7,000 people. How did this happen? It happened because the Labor Party coming into government put on the green light and said, 'If you can get to Australia we'll give you a visa. All you have to do is get here and we'll give you a visa.' On that point, you only have to go to the statistics, which have shown that, out of the thousands who have come already and been assessed, only a handful, in the tens, have been sent back to their countries of origin not deemed to be worthy of getting a visa in Australia. That reinforces what I am saying: get to Australia, get a visa. That is further reinforced by recent details. For example, Afghans applying offshore have a success rate of one in ten of getting a visa. Yet, of Afghans who make it to Australia or Australian territories, nine out of ten get a visa. I confirm my case: if you can get here, you get a visa.

This legislation is quite abhorrent for most Australians because it says that once you get here, and if you are actually deemed not to be a refugee and you want to stay here, you are going to have access to all the Australian courts available. Why has this not been a problem until now? It has not been a problem until now because, as I said, when we handed this place over, when the Labor Party took government in 2007, there were only four people in detention, so the courts did not need to act. Before then, before John Howard took his action to stop the boats, we had thousands of cases in the Federal Court. Of course you had activist judges, like Justice North, who basically reinterpreted the rules so that any sort of story was plausible enough to grant people their appeal. We dried up the system, and that is how we dried up the courts. Now the minister, who has an unappealable right to hear these cases himself, is saying, 'I'm going to put in a statutory mechanism which basically allows anyone who has been rejected to now use all the facilities of the Australian courts to give them a whole heap of appeal rights.'

A humble servant of the people like me would tell you that in my electorate this is abhorrent to people. Fathers trying to contest child issues in the Family Court and a whole lot of other people who are trying to get legal aid cannot get it. But it is immediately accessible under all our treaty obligations to those illegal arrivals that the Labor Party have now got a nice Orwellian term for—'irregular arrivals'. How good is that? In other words, illegal people turning up are now called 'irregular arrivals'. So at the end of the day the green light has been turned on, saying that if you can get to Australia you can get to stay here. And not only that—if we find that you are not genuine we are now going to open up the courts to you and you can go through all the appeal mechanisms in the courts. What was happening before, as we know, was that, if they got a negative decision in one court, they continued with this great industry of the legal fraternity to find another way through the courts to stay here. People were staying 10 years, having a family in that time. Then came the complication of what to do with the children who were born in Australia. We could not throw out the children because they were born on Australian soil. Under John Howard—and we had to use the whole scheme—for the purposes of migration we made our territories out of bounds. But the courts then said, 'No, we'll still hear the cases.' That is why they went to Nauru and Manus Island. So when you hear the Prime Minister and the immigration minister say, 'We're going to do a soft version of temporary protection visas and we're going to look at Manus Island because that seemed to work for the Howard government and might take a bit of heat off us in our electorates,' it is not the full monty because if you do not do the whole lot it does not work. If you do not put all the parts in the machine it does not work. You have to have protection visas as they were done under the Howard government, so that we could check they are bona fides in that period—three-year protection visas—and then they would go home if they were not deemed genuine.

People who got to Christmas Island and were sent to Nauru or Manus Island were outside Australia's court jurisdiction. That dried it up totally. But no, they are going to tinker around and now we are looking for a place, anywhere in Australia. As we know, they were not going to bring them onshore—another broken promise. They were not going to bring them to Australia. In my state, Western Australia, we have Curtin and Leonora—besides the Perth airport—and we are going to try to open up Northam. In South Australia we have Inverbrackie and in Queensland Scherger, and we are looking at Tasmania. Where will it end? We are running out of suitable Commonwealth land. In Darwin the minister said—he was very tricky—'We're going to build a detention centre because we're full on Christmas Island. They've been burning the joint down. It's only going to cost us $9 million.' What an absolutely fraudulent statement that was because he did not tell us it was going to cost them $25 million for releasing and renting the land—that is, far more.

This government are in such a malaise over migration. They do not seem to be able to say, 'We'll take the measures that will stop this.' We now have the Gillard-Brown coalition so they cannot do anything with the left of their party. Privately their members tell me, 'We're just so euchred over this. Our electorates are barking at us in an incredible way and, seriously, we just don't know where to turn. We hear bleats from the government caucus that it's an issue. Dougie Cameron is getting up and having a go'—all these sorts of things. They have a real problem and they cannot do anything about it.

The minister is now saying 'No worries' in the heat of this violently obscene debate. In Australia at the moment people hate seeing what is happening. On Anzac Day, when going around to all the ceremonies, people I do not know personally were coming up to me in droves saying, 'What are you going to do about this? When can we do something about what this government's doing to this country? They're traducing our reputation.'

Australia had a reputation of having a non-discriminatory migration system, one of the best in the world. When Australians went overseas, people would say, 'You Australians have got it right. You know who's coming, you know who's going and you know exactly where people are coming from and going to.' We are actually losing that reputation.

I want to turn to Malaysia quickly because it is an issue I am very concerned about. I have raised it in this House before. We are shopping around now with Malaysia and Manus Island. It would be funny if we end up trying to build one in Vietnam because they are still coming here by boat. I wonder whether we will end up in the Philippines. Even Brunei might do us a favour and let us build a so-called regional centre if we pay them off a bit. Malaysia seems very keen to do a deal. There seems to be a fair bit of money coming with it. Manus Island said they had never had so much money on the island before so they are going to do a deal.

This 800 for 4,000, the five to one ratio, is just laughable. People are laughing about it. They are even willing to talk about it publicly. They are coming up to us and saying, 'Can you believe we've got sucked into a regime and they're going to take 800 of ours'—I understand they are going to be hand picked—'and we're going to get 4,000 of theirs; what sort of trading is that?' Thank goodness they are not my banker or my financial adviser because that is one of the biggest dud deals I have ever seen.

That 800 are about three months worth of boats. When the 800 finish, it will all start again and we will have to find another country. So here we come Manilla. We will throw them in Manilla and they will again shop all around Australia. Should they get to Malaysia—there are stories about how Malaysia treats these people and that security is not so good—what if they get on a boat and come again to Australia? They will get in again through the back door. Malaysia is not taking them for good. Malaysia is not going to give them a visa. They are only taking them there to be processed. Then Malaysia might say, 'They're genuine refugees. Australia you'd better take most of the 800.' It is just an unbelievable and farcical deal.

I have raised this in this place before. Genuine people who are waiting in these places are seriously concerned that they are not going to get a fair go. I have raised the name of Mr Abdolhossein Harati, one of my constituents whose daughter is held up in Malaysia. I have already told the story of how he had to flee Iran because he was an enemy of the state. He and the government were at odds. He came through Malaysia and is now an Australian citizen. His daughter went to Malaysia with her husband but they became estranged. He took the daughter back to Iran. She cannot go back there to get the daughter so she is stranded in Malaysia. I have approached the minister personally. I have approached the department numerous times. Mr Harati is threatening a hunger strike in front of my office to try to get his daughter but she is stranded in Malaysia. Why can't we have her here? We have approached the minister. We have tried for this girl, Samira Harati, through the department so many times. She will be left out. If her father had $20,000, I suspect he would try to put her on a boat because she would probably get a visa given the way it is going.

We have all these anomalies. In Western Australia, we are short of unskilled workers. One-third of Perth's buildings cannot be cleaned due to the lack of unskilled workers. I have asked the minister to zone it as a regional zone for migration, like Adelaide, so that we can get skilled and unskilled workers in. But, no. We have people timing out on 457 visas who are going to go home because the bar has been lifted. The ASCO codes have been changed since they got their 457 visa. People want to continue to employ them, but they are timing out and they cannot apply again because in certain cases the ASCO codes no longer apply to them. This is one of the messiest things this government have done. The minister has brought a regime into this place which will see Australian courts choked with vexatious litigants who have been rejected and who will appeal their rejection. Pensioners and people on low incomes in my electorate who want to access the courts will not be able to because people in front of them will get access before them. It is a disgrace. (Time expired)