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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5643

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (18:20): The point I was making was not a political point. I asked a straight out question about the refugee convention, the specific provision which says that you cannot discriminate under the convention in terms of the mode of arrival. It is not a political point; it is a yes or no answer. The answer is: you are discriminating, you are acting contrary to the convention. I want to come particularly to the point you make all the time: that this comes to the parliament, the parliament will have full knowledge of the documents and so on, they will be tabled and on that basis the parliament will be able to not disallow but disapprove. However, I point out in section 198AC you have said that all these documents are going to be laid on the table. There is going to be:

(a)    a copy of the designation; and

(b)    a statement of the Minister’s reasons for thinking it is in the national interest to designate the country to be—

a regional processing centre—

(c)    a copy of any written agreement between Australia and the country relating to the taking of persons …

(d)    a statement about the Minister’s consultations with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees …

(e)    a summary of any advice received from that Office …

(f)    a statement about any arrangements that are in place, or are to be put in place …

But then you go on to say that:

(3)    The Minister must comply with subsection (2) within 2 sitting days …

But then you say that:

(4) The sole purpose of laying the documents referred to in subsection (2) before the Parliament is to inform the Parliament of the matters referred to in the documents and nothing in the documents affects the validity of the designation. Similarly, the fact that some or all of those documents do not exist does not affect the validity of the designation.


You are saying to us: 'We're not going to comply with the refugee convention or the human rights convention. What we are going to do is table in the parliament documents giving the assurances from the other designated country of what it will or won't do and what the minister has or has not said.' But then it goes on to say: 'The fact that some or all of these documents don't exist doesn't affect the validity of the designation.' So, Minister, if in the designation there is no statement of assurance, because you have not yet got it from whichever country, it is still deemed to be an appropriate level of information on which to ask the parliament to allow or disallow. Is that correct?