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Monday, 19 November 2012
Page: 8917


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (10:43): This bill will not keep Julia Gillard in office; it is the Greens political party that keeps the current Prime Minister in office. That was another speech from the party representing the loony left of the Australian political spectrum. That speech on behalf of the Greens political party was dysfunctional, inaccurate, lacking fact, certainly lacking logic and impractical. It clearly told untruths about Australia's obligations to the UNHCR and used the emotive words 'basic Australian values' without any understanding of what basic Australian values are.

It was a speech—yet again typical of the Greens political party—that was repetitive on how awful Tony Abbott is notwithstanding this is not Tony Abbott's legislation. But can the Greens see beyond Tony Abbott? Would the Greens ever attack the Labor Party or Julia Gillard? Never.

Anything that this government does that the Greens do not like suddenly is Tony Abbott's fault. That is how illogical and irrational the speeches that you will hear from the Greens political party are. Senator Hanson-Young made an emotive speech about the coalition not caring—she did not mention the Labor Party, mind you—how long people sit in these detention camps. I point out to Senator Hanson-Young what this is all about and why the coalition has been determined to secure our borders and stop people jumping the queue. Why we become involved in this whole purpose of protecting our borders and making sure that all refugees in the world apply by the rules of the UNHCR is this: there are around the world at the current time 10 million people determined, calculated and assessed to be refugees. They are living in squalid camps around the world and have been there for years. They are waiting for their turn to get into Australia, Canada or Europe. They are complying with the rules. They are not 'possible' refugees; they have been determined by the UNHCR to be refugees and yet they sit in squalid camps around the world—10 million of them—waiting for that one chance they will eventually have to get into Australia. But every time someone who is not yet determined to be a refugee jumps the queue and comes into this country then those people who have been determined to be refugees and who have been waiting years—some of those 10 million people—have to wait yet another year for their chance. Those 10 million people, who are determined, calculated and assessed to be refugees, are waiting their turn in accordance with the UNHCR rules.

That is why we in the coalition are determined to play by the UNHCR rules. Unlike Senator Hanson-Young—who, apart from mouthing the words, would not know what the basic Australian fair value is all about—the coalition knows the basic Australian fair value. The basic Australian fair value is that if you have been waiting in a squalid refugee camp somewhere in the world, if you have been determined to be a genuine refugee, then you take your place in the queue, and when a spot becomes available in Australia you come in. But, every time these people are not prepared to play by the rules, those who are wait yet another year.

I would like to hear the next speaker from the Greens address that issue. I would love to hear what the explanation is of that. Don't they care about the other 10 million refugees? I will use Senator Hanson-Young's words: the Greens 'do not care' about the 10 million assessed refugees sitting in squalid camps around the world. They want to give the places in Australia, the places that the Australian government determines we will accept every year, to the queue jumpers. Tell me how that complies with Australia's basic values. Tell me how that complies with the UNHCR. Senator Hanson-Young then goes on and says what squalid conditions there are in Nauru. Can I just tell Senator Hanson-Young that there are people, proud people, who happily live in Nauru. They are called Nauruans. There are people of Papua New Guinea. They live there happily. Senator Hanson-Young would have you believe that Nauru is a place like hell and that nobody but nobody would ever live there. But sorry: there are people who do live in Nauru and Manus Island, and do it happily.

Senator Hanson-Young then says that this proposal today is meant to stop the boats, and it has not stopped the boats. I say to Senator Hanson-Young that, if she were interested in logic and truth and fact, she should have a look at when the boats did stop: there were establishments set up in Nauru, there were other measures put in place, and the boats did stop. This government—the Labor government—after years of saying they would not open Manus and Nauru are now doing it, but unfortunately they are only doing one of three elements of John Howard's policy, which actually did stop the boats coming and did save lives. It did stop those hundreds of people who have been killed trying to get to Australia illegally. John Howard's policies stopped that. The Greens and the Labor Party policies have encouraged people to come into our country illegally and, in so doing, many have regrettably lost their lives.

Senator Hanson-Young, with her typical feigned emotion, again talks about suicide. I for one am distressed by, and would do anything I could to stop, anyone suiciding, and I am distressed to hear from Senator Hanson-Young at least that this is occurring in Nauru and Manus Island at the present time. I mention in passing that Senator Hanson-Young did not seem to have the same concern when people in the cattle industry were considering taking their lives because of the mess they were left in financially as a result of the Greens' and Labor Party's live cattle ban. There are Australians who, because of a government policy, are considering taking their lives—a government policy that is egged on by the Greens. Have we heard one word, just one word, of concern from the Greens political party for those Australians in that same depressed mental state?

Have we heard one word from the Greens political party about those original Australians who are having their human rights taken from them by a combination, yet again, of the Labor Party and the Greens political party in trying to put World Heritage listing over Cape York? The first Australians in Cape York are at last understanding that the welfare mentality of the last five decades has done their people no good. They want to use their land in Cape York to build a better life for themselves and for their children. They are looking at any number of pursuits. I know; I was up there at a meeting 500 kilometres north of Cairns just a couple of weekends ago when about 250 people—about a third of them Indigenous people—came together to complain about the World Heritage listing of Cape York. Mind you, neither they nor I nor anybody else—apart from the Labor government and the Greens—seems to know what the rules are to be for the World Heritage listing. Nobody, apart from the Labor Party and the Greens and a few insiders, seems to know where the boundaries are proposed. That is part of the problem. But 250 people from all over Cape York drove for eight hours or flew for two hours to get to this meeting to express their concern that their rights to their land were about to be taken from them. And where were the Greens? Where were the human rights then? How were we looking after these disadvantaged people in yet more decisions from the Greens and the Labor Party that take away their rights to their land, to self-fulfilment and to their own futures for themselves and for their children?

Mr Deputy President, you may think—and people who are listening to this may think—that I am very critical of the Greens political party. And you are right. I am sick and tired of the feigned emotion, the illogical arguments and saying one side of the story. I challenge Senator Milne, who is speaking next, to tell me why these recent arrivals are more worthy than the 10 million refugees who are already assessed, who are sitting in camps around the world and who would be in Australia now—some of them—if it had not been for these people jumping the queue. Senator Milne will say, 'Oh, that's because the Australian government only takes 13,000 refugees,' or 20,000 refugees as it is about to be increased to. But what about the other 9,980,000, Senator Milne? Would you say, 'Open the borders and let them all come in'? I am sorry: Australia could not cope financially or socially. Australia has to do its part and, as we all know in this chamber, Australia punches well above its weight when it comes to acceptance of assessed refugees around the world.

We have nothing to be ashamed of in Australia. Our policy under many governments has been welcoming and open to those who comply with the UNHCR rules. Senator Hanson-Young says that we do not care—the coalition, not the Labor Party, I might repeat. She says that the coalition does not care about these children in these camps whose mothers and fathers have been tortured. How emotional can you get? We do not care about it, she says. Of course we care about it. That is why we want to look after the 10 million refugees whose parents also were tortured and who have been determined—assessed—to be refugees. But does Senator Hanson-Young mention that? Of course not. It does not suit the political mantra of the Greens at this particular time.

It is no wonder that Australians have at last woken up to what the Greens political party is all about. When you see a territory, a city, like Canberra rejecting the Greens you know that the Greens have lost the plot. I could have told people that years ago, but the rest of Australia now realises that the Greens have lost the plot. They are completely un-Australian in their view of what is Australian and, as I have demonstrated earlier in my speech, some of the comments by the Greens have a very blinkered view about what the Australian 'fair go' is.

This bill is about spending another $1.6 billion of taxpayers' money to try and fix yet another Labor Party failure. We are at a net debt currently—I cannot keep track of it; what is it today?—of $157 billion. In gross debt I think it is about $250 billion. What are we doing? I do not have the figures because they change by day, but we are spending $20 million a day—is it?—in interest payments to the foreign lenders for money that the Labor Party has had to borrow to try and correct its earlier mistakes. And here we are: only another $1.6 billion! Easy to say when it is not your money.

I can guarantee that those on the Labor benches, those on the Greens benches and many of us on this side too will get the same pay at the end of the month. But all those Australians out there breaking their backs to earn money to get a better life for them and their families in Australia are the ones who have to pay the additional taxes that Labor keeps imposing upon Australia to pay for things like this new $1.6 billion blowout to set up an operation that the Howard government had in place. It was there. You did not have to spend anything on it—well, you might have had to scrub up a few things; you might have had to wash the windows or the bathrooms. It was all there.

But what did the Labor Party do? They took it down, they dismantled it, they destroyed it and they let it fall into the ground. It was all there and it was working, and it was working because that was one of the three elements we used to stop the boats: send people offshore for determination and for processing; turn the boats around where it is safe to do so; and issue with temporary protection visas. But the Labor Party could only bring themselves to do one-third of what was needed to be done, and of course the boats have not stopped. The one true thing that Senator Hanson-Young said was that the boats have come with increasing regularity, and this bill spends that extra $1.6 billion to fix up what was already there. This is just part of $2.7 billion to run the various programs that are consequences of boats coming to Australia.

The Labor Party are pretending that they are going to have a surplus. Nobody believes that will happen; in fact we have already shown that it will not happen—they fiddled the books a bit. But here is another $2.7 billion being spent because Labor simply cannot control the borders and are not interested in doing it. Why aren't they interested in doing it? To do that they would have had to adopt John Howard's policies and they, like the Greens, said that anything that John Howard did was bad and anything that the Labor Party does is good. That is why they stopped a policy that was working. There cannot be any argument about that.

You will hear Senator Milne say that there have been new conflicts in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and that is why there is a huge new increase. Sorry. There have been conflicts everywhere every year, regrettably. It is a sad state of the world's situation and there are always refugees looking for a better place. Australia welcomes them to the extent of our ability to look after them, but we want to take those who are playing by the UNHCR rules. That is fair. That is the Australian way. There is a set of rules. We welcome these people and we understand their torment and their torture and their turmoil and we want to bring them here to a new life. But every one of these failures of the Labor government coming in illegally to our shores is one of those already assessed refugees who has to wait yet another year to try to get to our country.

This is a bill that should not be necessary. If the Labor Party had not shown significant failure in this aspect of governance, as they have with everything else, this bill would not have been necessary. But because, belatedly, they are coming to the table in a partial way, it is something that should be looked at.