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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3549


Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Immigration and Citizenship) (17:00): I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

This bill will ensure that asylum seekers who unlawfully arrive anywhere in Australia by boat without a visa will be subject to the same regional processing arrangements as asylum seekers who arrive at an excised offshore place, such as Christmas Island. The government's amendments to the bill, which address the recommendations made by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, will further build on these mechanisms to ensure transparency for regional processing arrangements.

The amendments moved today will require the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to cause to be laid before each house of the parliament, within 15 sitting days of that house after the end of the financial year, a report on the following: arrangements made by regional processing countries during the financial year for unauthorised maritime arrivals who make claims for protection under the refugees convention as amended by the refugees protocol, including arrangements for assessing those claims in those countries and for the accommodation, health care and education of those unauthorised maritime arrivals in those countries; the number of those claims assessed in those countries in the financial year; and the number of unauthorised maritime arrivals determined in those countries in the financial year to be covered by the definition of refugee in article 1A of the refugees convention as amended by the refugees protocol.

The reporting requirements recognise that a regional processing country is a sovereign country and that the minister will be able to include information in the report as is provided by the regional processing country. For this reason, a proposed amendment obliges the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to report on the arrangements only so far as information provided by the regional processing countries makes it reasonably practicable to do so.

In addition, an amendment will prevent that report from including the name of a person who is or was an unauthorised maritime arrival, or any information that may identify such a person, or the name of any person connected in any way with any person who is or was an unauthorised maritime arrival or any information that may identify that other person. The first report to be tabled in each house of the parliament will be for the period commencing 13 August 2012 and ending on the first 30 June after the commencement of the bill.

I thank all those who have contributed to this debate. This of course is the realisation, in effect, of recommendation 14 of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. I do indeed commend the amendments and the bill to the House.