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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 803


Mr OAKESHOTT (Lyne) (11:20): I present the Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012 in an attempt to find a sustainable and best possible policy outcome that is acceptable to both the major parties—the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal-National party in this chamber—and the crossbenches so that Australia has a sustainable and workable response to the recent High Court ruling. The current policy impasse is unsustainable, and it lacks long-term direction for Australia.

This bill combines three considerations in an effort to reach a policy outcome. Firstly, there is the importance of the bipartisan Bali process and the regional cooperation framework. Some excellent work has been done in a bipartisan way that seems to have been forgotten, conveniently or otherwise, in the domestic debate. This is, I emphasise, bipartisan work on people smuggling, people trafficking and related transnational crime that began in 2002 and continues to engage over 50 countries, the International Office of Migration and the UNHCR. A mistake in the domestic debate today has been the lack of emphasis on this Bali process, and this private member's bill is an attempt to elevate the core principles, both border protection and humanitarian, that form the backbone of this regional agreement. Secondly, in forming this private member's bill, consideration is also given to the government's Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011, which was a response to the High Court decision of August 2011 in relation to declarations made under section 198A of the Migration Act and which has so far failed to pass the parliament. Thirdly, the final consideration in forming this bill is the amendments from the Liberal-National Party to the 2011 migration legislation amendment bill, including issues around engagement of the UNHCR in the negotiations which seem to have started, and then failed, over the summer recess.

I am very open to discussion of any of the issues raised. I am very open to any amendments where they would assist in achieving a response to the High Court decision and in allowing policy in Australia to consider a multi-locational strategy which includes both onshore and offshore considerations. It has been disappointing that in the domestic debate to date everything has been presented as either/or—either onshore or offshore, either Malaysia or Nauru—implying that the alternatives are either Labor or Liberal. There are other ways through. I would hope that the parliament looks for those through the conflict resolution that I am trying to present in this bill. I am open to negotiate on any of it. I would love the government or the opposition to pick it up as their bill as part of the negotiation—otherwise, I think we are failing as a parliament to seek best policy. I do not think that is what anyone in this place wants.

Bill read a first time.