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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5634


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (17:40): Far from satisfying it, for the benefit of the parliament I will read out what the national interest means. The explanatory memorandum states that it has:

… a broad meaning and refers to matters which relate to Australia’s standing, security and interests. For example, these matters may include governmental concerns related to such matters as public safety, border protection, national security, defence, Australia’s economic interests … Measures for effective border management and migration controls are in the national interest.

In other words, in determining the national interest in relation to this designated other country, the minister is going to be overwhelmingly focused on what we have heard as the rationale for this in the first place—that is, deterrence and border security, not humanity, not compassion and nothing about the responsibilities we have to human rights. In fact, it is going to be about effective border management and migration controls. That is what the national interest is. That is going to be the overwhelming view of the minister and that is the rationale for this legislation—and we have heard that from day one.

All we have heard from you so far, Minister, is that the High Court told us that the reason Malaysia did not stand up is that there was nothing that said Malaysia's undertakings had to be legally binding in Malaysia. Now we have a specific part of this legislation which makes it very clear that whatever the minister tables in the Australian parliament is merely an assurance from another country. There is nothing legally binding about it; therefore, no-one can assume that anything can actually be upheld under the law.