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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 437


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (11:54): I seek leave to make a two-minute statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted.

Senator BRANDIS: What Senator McKim failed to inform the Senate of was that the people who were the subject of this action today are not refugees. They are not refugees. He chose his words carefully by describing them as 'detainees'. I am advised that every single individual the subject of these removal proceedings is a person whose claim to refugee status has been processed and rejected. It is quite wrong, therefore, for Senator McKim to claim as he does that rights are being violated. When a person claims to be a refugee and then their claim to refugee status is rejected, the country to which they have made that claim has every right in international law to return them to their country of origin in accordance with its own domestic laws. That is what the New Guinean authorities are doing.

When we speak of Manus Island, we should remember two things. The Manus Island detention centre was created by the government of New Guinea as a result of an agreement entered into between that government and the government of Mr Kevin Rudd. The other thing is that every person in the Manus Island detention centre, whether they have been assessed to be a refugee or, as in this case, their refugee claim has been refused, was put there by the Labor Party. The second thing we should remember is that under this government we have attempted to empty those centres, most recently by entering into an agreement with the administration of the United States of America. (Time expired)