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Malaysian Swap Legislation: Statement

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Media Contact - Simon Hall Ph: 02 6277 4171 | 08 9294 3222 Mob: 0434 492 000 Email:

29 June 2012

Press Statement

Following the Prime Minister’s rush to re-introduce the Malaysian Swap Legislation into the Parliament on Wednesday, I worked with my Coalition colleagues to see if we could craft an agreement on the Coalition amendment to ensure that all off-shore processing would take place in countries which are signatories to the Refugee Convention.

Personally, I have not supported off-shore processing in the past. Under the circumstances where there were more asylum seekers losing their lives at sea, I was trying ensure that if the Coalition’s amendment was the only viable alternative, that additional safeguards were put in place.

In fact, in the end, it was the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, who gave the most ground on Wednesday to get effective and humane legislation through the Parliament.

For my support for the Coalition’s amendment the Leader of the Opposition agreed to five safeguards: 1. An increase in Australia’s refugee and humanitarian intake from the current figures to 20,000 per annum. This target was to be met within three years to allow for orderly resettlement. 2. Once processed and if found to be a refugee, individuals will be resettled within 12 months. 3. Processing facilities established off-shore to be endorsed by the UNHCR, in consultation with

the UNHCR. 4. The establishment of a multi-party committee to work with agencies on aspects of the policy. 5. Benchmark of 12 months for processing all asylum applications.

In an effort to get the Coalition amendment through the Parliament with these safeguards, we discussed this proposal with the Greens and the cross-benchers.

I have no doubt that the Greens consideration of our amendments with the additional safeguards was genuine.

But at no time did the Greens resile from their opposition to offshore processing and the Bill.