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Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Page: 6715


Senator CASH (Western Australia) (16:09): I too rise to concur with the comments of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Eric Abetz, and my colleague Senator Fifield. We are currently debating a motion by Senator Hanson-Young to suspend standing orders to allow an amendment to general business notice of motion No. 444 to be moved. I have searched high and low and I have asked my colleagues if they have a copy of the amendment for me—I understand that Senator Hanson Young was asked to reread the amendment out to the Senate—but, to date, I do not know about you, Mr Acting Deputy President, but I have been unable to find a copy of the amendment.

When the Greens come into this chamber and stand here and talk about process and the failure of some to follow process, maybe they would like to have a look at their own conduct in relation to this particular motion. There is a very good reason that those on this side of the chamber will not be supporting Senator Hanson-Young's suspension motion, and that is that Senator Hanson-Young has failed to give this chamber the courtesy that is due to it. I acknowledge the comments made by Senator Ludwig on debating these types of motions, but when the Greens come into this chamber and stand up and completely misrepresent the position of the coalition in putting forward the motion it is incumbent upon those on this side—as those on the other side would do if they were in the same position as us—to come in here and defend their position. There is a very good reason that Senator Abetz has put forward this motion. If the Greens choose not to support this motion, then quite frankly that is their problem and they can go and justify to their supporters why they are supporting a motion that condemns government policy for its inadequate protections for people that we—Australia—will be transferring to Malaysia.

Let me tell you what the coalition will not support, and these are the reasons we have put forward this motion. We on this side of the chamber will not support legislation that will allow the Australian government to send asylum seekers to a country that has not signed the UNHCR convention. We on this side will not support legislation that allows the Australian government to send asylum seekers to a country where, in the last five years, almost 30,000 refugees were caned—that is 16 floggings a day—and that is man­dated by an act of parliament in Malaysia. We on this side will not support legislation that allows the Australian government—and that is a government that is only in govern­ment because of its coalition with the Greens—to take children to Malaysia where they will not be able to have proper school­ing. We on this side will not support legisla­tion that allows the Australian government, again, to transfer refugees to Malaysia where they will have access to only one UNHCR funded medical clinic, which they will have to share with 94,000 other refugees.

The coalition—and this is the reason for Senator Abetz's motion—in good conscience cannot support such morally objectionable legislation. The reason the Greens want to move the amendment is that they too know that the government is wrong. They know the government is wrong in what it is doing and, if the government is wrong, the Greens should be sitting on this side of the chamber with the coalition condemning their coalition partners. The coalition will make no apology whatsoever for their own tough and uncompromising policies on border protection, because what we did—unlike what the Greens want to do—was stop the boats. Do you know what happens when you stop the boats? You stop people risking their lives to get to this country and dying in the process. If the Greens had their way, they would have onshore processing. Do you know what that means? That means they do not want to stop the boats and they support policies that will cause people to be drowned.

Question put:

That the motion ( Senator Hanson-Young 's) be agreed to.

Question negatived.

Original question put:

That the motion (Senator Abetz's) be agreed to.

The Senate divided. [16:18]

(The President—Senator JJ Hogg)

Senator Arbib did not vote, to compensate for the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Coonan

Question negatived.