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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13910

National Security

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the government's successful border security policies? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches that may threaten Australia's border sovereignty?

Mr COLEMAN (BanksMinister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) (15:02): I thank the member for his question. It's a very serious matter that the member has asked me to address, going as it does to Australia's border security and very substantial humanitarian matters. We know that under those opposite, tragically, 1,200 people lost their lives at sea, including children. We'll never know how many, but we know that children lost their lives. We know that 8,000 children were forcibly placed in detention by those opposite, and we know that 50,000 people arrived in that chaotic period in Australian public policy history. We know that our government has fixed the problem, and we know that those opposite now want to up-end the system of offshore processing which has been so fundamental to it.

But what I want to do today is go very, very carefully through what this law actually does in relation to who will be able to come to Australia under this law. And it's important to read section 198E(4)(b), which refers to the original person who's being recommended to come for a medical treatment or assessment. Then there are other people as well, and this is a very important point, because the law calls for any other person to come if that person is a member of the same family unit or if it is recommended by a medical practitioner. The question is: what are the limits on the medical practitioner recommending other people to come, and what happens if that occurs?

The first thing that happens is that the other people who are recommended must come unless they've breached the security definition under the ASIO Act or if they have a criminal record of 12 months or more. They must come; there is no discretion for the minister, the medical panel or anyone else in relation to those people, except for those two matters.

So then the question is: how many people could that one doctor recommend accompany the original person? Is there a limit of one? Two? Five or 10? There is no limit whatsoever. So if one doctor says that 10 people should accompany the original person then, in the absence of those people breaching the security act or having been to jail for 12 months, they're all coming to Australia and there is nothing the government can do to stop it. That is an absurd and ridiculous piece of legislation, and it's what those opposite did. They didn't understand that that was what they did. (Time expired)