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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8198

Ms SAFFIN (7:45 PM) —Whilst I am happy to add my voice to that of the honourable member for Bonner—and I commend her for bringing this motion before the House—I cannot say that I am happy to talk about what I consider to be the most heinous of crimes; that is, human trafficking. As the motion notes, it is the second largest criminal activity globally—and that speaks volumes. The very name and the very idea are repulsive. It goes against the grain of the moral fibre of humanity. Can you imagine people plotting and planning to traffic people? That is what they do. That is their job. That is how they make money.

If we lived in another country, it could be our sister or our brother. It is not just women; it happens to girls and boys, men and women, our neighbours. It is in our neighbourhood and in the broader Asia-Pacific region—not solely there but the figures are high there. Can you imagine the sort of people who traffic? They are people without a conscience, people without what I call a moral compass. I have had the misfortune to come face-to-face with a few traffickers in my time and in my work. They were in our neighbourhood, up on the borders, and also, unfortunately, in Australia. As the honourable member before me said, there are at least 100 people at any given time in Australia who are trafficked. Yes, trafficking happens and some of them end up in Australia. The fact that they get here is a cause of concern for all of us—that they still get here with the systems we have in place.

I have met quite a lot of women and some young boys who have been trafficked. They were primarily overseas, but some were here. The fact is that if people end up here due to human trafficking then we as a nation, as communities and as governments have an obligation to treat them with the greatest of care and the greatest of respect, and that goes also to our visa system—and I know that is an evolving area. I know that when we give visas it is generally to people who will be witnesses to help effect prosecutions. That is very important, but we also have to give visas for care, protection and compassion. I know that that is one of the issues on the agenda with regard to trafficking and the roundtable.

We have to be really clear about the definition of ‘trafficking’. In practice, when we are dealing with trafficking, it can become confused with smuggling. Sometimes we tend to mix them up. It is important that we keep focus. Smuggling leads to trafficking; you cannot really have the trafficking without it. However, smuggling can happen for other purposes. The definition is this:

‘Trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;

So it is quite a broad definition. That definition comes from the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. We have to be mindful of that broad definition when we are thinking of it and not confuse it with prostitution and other things.

I would like to commend the government for the roundtable that has been convened and commend the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Bob Debus, for his work in that area. I take the approach that this is something that requires absolute bipartisan, multipartisan, support to make sure that we respond in the appropriate ways and respond to the criminality of this—because it is a crime—as well as to the human dimension, where we have to provide that care and protection. I would like to say thank you to the honourable member for Bonner for bringing it to our attention. (Time expired)