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Thursday, 19 March 2015
Page: 1924


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (12:05): The minister will no doubt answer the inquiry just made by the Greens senator. I chaired the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee where we went into this bill in great detail. The senator who has just spoken is a participating member of that committee and usually involves herself in deliberations relating to migration matters.

The Greens senator, had she been paying attention at the Senate committee inquiries, would have known when these issues that the minister has just referred to were raised. She would also have seen the majority report of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, which went through these matters in some detail. In fact, the government's amendments and additions to the explanatory memorandum were exactly what the committee by majority agreed to.

I cannot help but agree with the minister in that this seems to be an ongoing campaign by the Greens political party simply to garner some political support by what I call the migration industry—an industry that has grown up and which does not like some of the things which, effectively, bring some order and regularity to our immigration system and the way we deal with claims from asylum seekers.

Much of the work of the committee is extended because of questions by the representatives of the Greens political party, who never seem to listen to the evidence but simply, as is appropriate to their political outcomes, raise issues which have already been raised and spoken about and explained by various of the witnesses. But the Greens political party seem to just use these proceedings to run out the standard mantra that they always use. It does not matter what the bill is, there is a series of emotive words used by the Greens political party about any migration matter, whether it is relevant to the bill or not. Quite frankly, I could not agree more strongly with the minister's comments that it is not part of the process that really assists this committee; it is just something to grab a headline, using emotive words—the same words that are used, I might say, no matter what the issue is.

The particular Greens senator involved does, as I say, insert herself as a participating member in some of the inquiries. Regrettably, it is not often that that particular representative of the Greens political party stays for the whole time. She simply comes in, gets the attention of the media and then leaves. I only raise these matters because, quite frankly, the Senate has a lot of work to do. There are a lot of serious bills to be addressed. The questions that the representative of the Greens political party is asking were all fully canvassed at the Senate committee hearings. The reasons were given. As a result of that, the majority of the committee put forward recommendations, which I am delighted to say the government has taken up. It shows that this is a government that does listen to sensible options put forward by members of the community. It is a government that does listen to senators in this parliament working, usually constructively, through these committees to improve on legislation which the government wants to gets through and which the committee acknowledges has a purpose. But the committee has, on a number of occasions, identified things where bills could be improved. As I say, I am absolutely delighted that we have a government that is prepared to listen to suggestions for improvements and to act on them.

The questions which are being raised with the minister now by a representative of the Greens political party are the sorts of questions that were fully canvassed in the committee hearings. They are, again, issues which were the subject of a written report, which I would have hoped the senator might have read. If she had, she would not be asking these questions, because the answers are all clearly explained in the committee report, which again I commend to the chamber. I thank again the government for listening to the suggestions made for improvements.