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Monday, 9 December 2002
Page: 7501


Senator HARRIS (9:02 PM) —I rise to place on the record the fact that One Nation will be supporting the Migration Legislation Amendment (Further Border Protection Measures) Bill 2002. In commencing my contribution to this debate, I would like to put it very clearly on the record that when the government brought the last set of legislation into this chamber One Nation also supported it. This is totally contrary to the reports in the media that the opposition and all of the minor parties and independents opposed the government's legislation. We did not; we supported it totally.

One Nation believes the government's present bill adds substantially to the program that the government have set in place over a series of years. The government has taken initiatives to curb illegal entry. We do not hear the word `illegal' in the contributions from the Labor Party or some of the other crossbenchers. The people in question are illegal immigrants. I do not believe that, under our Australian Constitution, they have the right to access our judicial processes in the same manner as an Australian resident or citizen.

If we look at what the government have done over past years we will see that they introduced border protection legislation in 1999, enhanced that legislation in 2001 and made changes to the Migration Act in order to increase the maximum period of imprisonment for people-smuggling to 20 years, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment for those found to be organising people-smuggling. The government have increased the number of special compliance officers in key overseas posts. They will work with local police and immigration officials to clearly identify overseas nationals trying to enter Australia illegally.

The government have placed departmental officers in key overseas ports to assist overseas countries in training their staff to identify bogus documents. The Australian government have posted specialist liaison officers to key overseas posts for bilateral and multilateral liaison on readmission and resettlement. They have organised ongoing short-term visits to key countries by departmental document examiners to provide specialist training and technical support to overseas immigration services and to airlines and airline staff. They have maintained multifunction task forces both in Australia and overseas which coordinate investigations, collect intelligence and maintain close liaison with law enforcement agencies investigating immigration fraud. The government also frequently updates Australia's movement alert list, which is a key tool governing the entry of non-citizens who are of security and character concern.

Who has this message been sent to? It is very clear that the government has sent a message to two groups of people: firstly, it has sent a very clear message to the people who would wish to flout our immigration laws—the illegal entry people; and, secondly and more importantly, it has sent a message to the people smugglers and cut off the ability of these people to continue their business. If we look back to last year and the year before, there were times when we had anything up to 3,500 people illegally arriving on our shores. But the moment that the government brought in its first bill on border protection, that stopped overnight. If you are in the business of people-smuggling and all of a sudden you find that Australia is not a soft touch and you have accepted between $A6,000 to $A10,000 from a person to get them illegally into Australia, they are going to be most upset with you. If 3,000-odd people were to come from Indonesia, for example, that would be an injection of approximately $A18 million per month into the black market in that country. Therein lies some of the reluctance of overseas countries to stop this trafficking. The minister in his second reading speech said:

On average, it costs the government $50,000 for every unauthorised arrival by boat from the time of arrival to the time of their departure from Australia.

Do the arithmetic: if 3,000 people arrived in Australia in any one month it would cost us, the taxpayers, $150 million just to process them for that one month, and people talk about the costs of the Pacific solution! I think the Pacific solution is one of the most economical actions of the government, because it stopped absolutely overnight the proliferation of people entering this country.

When Senator Brown spoke before he made a comment about how this fits with our Christian ethos. It fits very comfortably. If you go to the Old Testament, there is a section that speaks about the entry into the walled city of Jerusalem. If you know a little history about that period, you will know the gates in that walled city were closed each evening. There were windows in the walls of the city so that people could have some access to fresh air where their homes were built into the walls. So our Old Testament clearly says: `He who enters the city through the gates enters that city and has passage. But he who enters by the window is despised.'

So our own Christian belief sets out very clearly that we accept the person who enters our country legally—that is, the person who fills out their application and has it assessed to see if they are a genuine refugee. But the person who comes as an illegal immigrant is the equivalent of the person in the dark, entering that city through a window, and they are to be despised because they are keeping out genuine people who have spent time going through all of the refugee centres, doing the right thing and making an application to come to Australia. They are the ones who are doing the correct thing; they are the ones who as a Christian nation we will open our arms to and accept if it is proven that they are genuine refugees. So there is no problem whatsoever in reconciling ourselves as a Christian society to rejecting those who wish to break the laws of this country and enter like thieves in the night. On top of that, they have the audacity to expect the Australian people to fund court challenges that will keep them here for three or four years. The government does have it right; it has done the right thing.

If you live in North Queensland and speak to the people who live on Cape York—they are predominantly pastoralists; lovely people who are doing it hard—on numerous occasions you would hear them voice concern about the vehicles that tend to go up the Cape empty and come back full. You do not have to think too hard to work out what is actually going on. We have even had instances in places like Dirranbandi, in the southern corner of the state, where people in vehicles have been apprehended. One lot were apprehended because the vehicle broke down; it was a group of illegal immigrants heading for Melbourne. If they had arrived in Melbourne they would have had a safe haven. We probably would not even have known they were in the country. Another group that called in at a service station to refuel their vehicle were apprehended when an astute attendant realised that, because of their language difficulties, they most certainly should not even have been driving the vehicle, let alone be in Australia.

So the government does have it right. The government is protecting the sovereignty of this nation in such a way that the people of Australia decide who will make up the matrix of our community in the future. If we had continued to allow thousands of people to illegally enter this country on a monthly basis, it would not be us as Australians controlling the development of our country but the illegal boat people and the smugglers who are sitting offshore, smugly putting their money in their hip pockets and, I might add, probably not contributing to their own country's economy.

If Labor's proposal were to be accepted, we would be opening the front door. We would be opening the gates to Jerusalem in the daytime for people to walk in. I do not believe that that is in the interests of the Australian people. People who arrive in Australia with the correct documentation have had that documentation—their entry visas—subjected to scrutiny by our officials overseas. That is the correct way to enter this country. If you want to get the real story on people who enter this country illegally through our airports, stop and talk to a Qantas airline pilot or a crew member who has had to go through the degrading task of sifting through the refuse on an aircraft because someone who had identification papers at their overseas port of exit has cut that documentation up and flushed it down the toilet on the aircraft, arriving here with no ID so as to claim refugee status. If you talk to the airline people and ask them what they think of those sorts of people, you will get a totally different picture.

Yes, it is extremely concerning that children are held for a long period of time in detention centres in Australia. However, it is a conscious decision of the parents of those children to flout the laws of this country. They know what they are doing when they pay their $A6,000 to $A10,000 to the people smugglers. They know where they are going to end up—in a detention centre. They consciously made that decision before they left their country.

On the issue of forum shopping, have a look at Europe. The European Economic Union have passed legislation to ban forum shopping. I would like anyone in this chamber to tell me of any person—other than our close neighbours East Timor and West Papua who have no other option but to enter Australia—who has travelled to Australia as an illegal immigrant and not passed another safe haven before they entered our waters. I believe that the government, with this legislation and with its previous attempt at the regulation, has actually stopped forum shopping—and that is exactly what should happen. Even the United Nations human rights commission does not support a refugee who passes a safe haven to continue on to a selected destination.

In conclusion, One Nation support the government's initiative to further extend the exclusion areas. We support their definition of an excised offshore place and we most certainly support the time frame from 2 p.m. on 19 June 2002 as the time when any person who enters these excised areas is unable to apply for a visa in Australia. One Nation commend the government for the bill and support the government's position.