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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5648


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (18:42): We are going round in circles here, Minister, because the refugee convention makes very clear that taking away a person's natural justice is in contravention of their right to access those services. There is no point in going over this any further. There is no legal obligation in this anywhere for the minister to provide natural justice to a refugee, nor is there any requirement for anything under the conventions, except an assurance which is not legally binding about sending a refugee back to where they came from or to another country. So I think we have it pretty clearly here that the government thought it was important enough to define the national interest in very specific terms but did not find it necessary to define the interests of refugees in any specific terms. That is now a matter of the discretion of the minister in the context of what the minister thinks is in the national interest, and then, after he or she has exercised his or her discretion as to what is in the national interest and what is in the rights of refugees, when they table the document in the parliament, there is no requirement for any of those documents to actually be presented. They do not even have to exist. For the purposes of this legislation they do not have to exist in order for a parliament to tick off a country as a processing centre for refugees. It is only the political imperative we are now told, Minister, that would require a minister to feel as if he had to put any of those documents on the table.

Minister, there is nothing in this legislation which gives a legally binding protection to any refugee anywhere Australia would send them—unless you can tell me, in this legislation which specifically says 'exempted from natural justice, not legally binding'. Can you just confirm that there is nothing in this legislation that makes it legally binding for Australia to have to have legally binding provisions that cover human rights in another country?