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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3845

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (13:39): I rise to oppose the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2011. It adds nothing to our current immigration laws. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship rightly has the power to make these decisions and, as the opposition understands it, there has not been an example where the minister has not been able to use his power to make these decisions. So, this bill gives no additional power to those who seek to flee the circumstances outlined by the member for Throsby. I am sure we would all agree that people do deserve a compassionate response. When in government this side of the House had the same approach.

The bill really sums up the Labor Party's failure in this area. It was interesting that the member for Throsby sought to do what so many of those on that side do and go down the path of abuse of those on this side; trying to act in a sanctimonious fashion about their failure in this area. In my electorate we are seeing the consequences of the failure of the Labor Party to manage the border protection issue properly. They try to be soft but hard—they pretend to be tough with a proposal like the Malaysian proposal, but members on this side have had to put up with Labor Party members telling us for so long that we could not go back to Nauru because they were not a signatory to the UN Convention, but of course Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Convention. Somehow that is different. Somehow that is better. Somehow that does not matter. Somehow that is a perfectly reasonable solution. They are panicked, because they are going into their electorates and being told by their constituents that this failure has got to stop. The policy approach by this government is causing massive consequences in communities across our country. It is undermining the value that we put on these issues. Labor Party members are seeking to engage in the politics of personal abuse and to question the motives of those of us on this side.

I can tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that my electorate is suffering under the consequences of this failure, with the Inverbrackie detention facility causing untold pain and anguish in our community. The front page of the Sunday Mail in Adelaide last weekend highlighted example after example of community concern about the Inverbrackie detention centre—just one of the facilities that have been opened up, building the detention centre revolution across our country. Any unused army barracks around the place will be used by this government because they have failed to manage this border protection issue properly.

This is another example of this failure. They try to pretend on one side that they are tough, with the so-called Malaysian solution, but on the other side they claim that they are being humanitarian and soft and are creating some new provision—a provision which of course already exists. There is a sop to the left and then a sop to the right, as occurred last weekend. The problem is the inconsistency of policy, like when the government changed this law back in August 2008. That has led to over 200 boats and 11,000 people arriving since then. That is creating a risk for the people who get on these boats, all because the people smugglers are back in business. This bill creates another product for people smugglers to sell, and that is why we will oppose it. There is no evidence of a need to change. No evidence has been presented by the minister or by those on the other side that there is any need to change the law. The minister has the power to do what this bill seeks to codify.

What we are debating today is a further example of how the government has so badly mismanaged this issue. They do not know whether they are Arthur or Martha; they do not know whether they are tough, with Malaysia, or they are soft, with this bill. They were soft in 2008 when they found a solution and created a problem. This bill adds to the failure of the government to deal with the issue properly—11,000 people, and we see the consequences of delays with riots at Villawood and riots at Christmas Island and riots at Curtin. There is a $1.75 billion blowout over and above what was already allocated in the budget, with the additional money having to be found through a $2 billion whack at middle-income families to pay for the blowout. This bill is a further example of the complete failure of the government to deal with this matter properly. The response from those opposite is so predictable. It is the politics of personal destruction. They question the motives of those of us on this side—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate may be resumed at a later hour.