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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1399

Asylum Seekers


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:36): My question is to Minister Fifield, representing the Minister for Home Affairs. Last week Minister Dutton was asked about white South African farmers, and he said:

I do think on the information that I've seen, people do need help, and they need help from a civilised country like ours.

He also said:

I think these people deserve special attention and we're certainly applying that special attention now.

Can you confirm, as suggested by Minister Dutton's rhetoric, that the government has decided to re-adopt the White Australia policy?


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:37): Obviously what Senator McKim said is patently absurd. I could, after having said that, legitimately sit down, but let me indicate that Australia operates a global and non-discriminatory humanitarian program. The government is committed to a responsive and targeted humanitarian program, which assists people in greatest humanitarian need of resettlement. Decisions in relation to the composition of the humanitarian program are made by the minister and take into account a range of factors, including global resettlement needs and the views of the community. The program now sits, as colleagues would be aware, at 16,250 and will move to 18,750 next program year.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, a supplementary question.



Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:38): Minister, I compare your government bending over backwards for white South Africans to the utter indifference you've shown to the textbook case of ethnic cleansing happening right now to the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Why are you offering bribes to the Rohingya people you have detained on Manus Island and Nauru to induce them to return to face danger and deprivation in Myanmar while you are offering special attention to white South African farmers? Is it the colour of their skin?

Government senators interjecting

Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right! Can I please have silence during the question being asked, and, while I'm asking for silence, Senator Whish-Wilson, I would appreciate it as well.



Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:39): Again, I completely reject the premise of Senator McKim's question. Australia's position in relation to our border protection arrangements and offshore processing is well known. I should point out that Australia, in terms of Rohingyas, will provide $4 million in humanitarian assistance to help respond to the crisis. This will bring Australia's assistance in other affected communities, in Myanmar and Bangladesh, to over $50 million since 2012. Going to the other part of Senator McKim's—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order, Senator Fifield! To the back of the chamber: if you want to have a chat, please leave. I'm trying to hear Senator Fifield myself.

Senator FIFIELD: Going to the other part of Senator McKim's question, the Minister for Home Affairs has been clear that he has asked his department to have a look at options and ways in which Australia could provide some assistance in the circumstances of South Africa. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, a final supplementary question.





Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:40): Given this government's preference for white refugees, its attempts to introduce university-level English tests for people from non-white countries, racially motivated attacks on Victoria's African communities and the member for Dawson's constant flirting with white supremacists and Neo-Nazis without rebuke by the Prime Minister, how can there be any other conclusion than that white nationalism is at the heart of this government?

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right! It's for the minister to respond to a question.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right and at the rear of the chamber! Order! I will call the minister when there is silence. Senator Fifield.




Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:41): That form of monologuing isn't really a question, and I don't think it deserves a response.