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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5645


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (18:28): I thank the minister for suggesting that the rationale for the minister thinking that he would put those documents on the table is the political ramifications—the politics. I think this week is a classic example of how the politics are very likely to allow for a parliament to race through something with the most appalling holes in it—as was done post the Tampa and as was done this week. It could be raced through, as we are pointing out now, with absolute silence from the coalition or with both parties getting together and racing it through, regardless of the holes in it. If the only reason that this parliament can be assured that a minister might put documents on the table is the politics of not putting them on the table means it will be too difficult for them, this week is a classic case. I feel sorry for you, Minister, having to sit there and defend this, because what the government is doing, with the support of the coalition, is indefensible. It is taking away natural justice, absolutely in contravention of the convention. It is telling us that there is no legally binding protection for any refugee sent anywhere by Australia, and the whole thing is based on a piece of legislation that says that it does not matter whether or not the documents actually exist. I find it an extraordinary thing that the government would be doing that.

I want to come back to a question in relation to unaccompanied minors, and I wonder if you could tell me this, Minister. In the event that an unaccompanied minor is sent to an offshore processing facility, you have said that they will not be there a long time. I think the reference was to a 'reasonably short time'. Can you tell me specifically if there is any limitation that the government has spoken about or said anywhere that I can read? What is the time limit specifically for a person or an unaccompanied minor being in detention offshore?