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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5649

Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (18:46): We have just established that there is absolutely no requirement for the minister to table any of the documents and assurances that the minister may have from anybody, whether that be the UNHCR or anybody else. There is no requirement for the minister to lay on the table the details of the agreement with the designated country. It is not even that there is no requirement for them to be laid on the table. They do not actually have to exist. If this government believes that they are important, why isn't that requirement in the legislation? As of yesterday, let's not forget that the government had not even picked up the phone to speak to the UNHCR. This is just absolute utter rubbish. It is saying one thing and doing another. The whole point of this legislation is to have as little scrutiny as possible, as little regard to people's rights as possible, to write out of current legislation any legal obligation that we have under the UN convention and to put precisely in the legislation that none of these documents that the Houston report says are important and that the government and the minister here tonight continue to rabbit on about even have to exist. I apologise that the minister is in this position because I doubt that Minister Lundy even knew that this clause was in this legislation, that none of these documents even had to exist. So despite all of this fanfare about how this is going to be so different than it was under John Howard—

Senator Milne: It is worse.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: It is worse. This is worse than the legislation under John Howard. Do you know what is going to happen, Senator Milne? That is why the coalition love it, because they have well and truly done the government over. The government is introducing worse legislation than John Howard did. The government is ripping out the limited rights that John Howard had in his legislation. The Houston report says that, if you are going to do this, you have to at least have these assurances. This legislation lets the government of the day off the hook. They do not even have to exist. I doubt the minister even was aware because, if she was, why would you continue to reference them, because they are totally irrelevant? They are not required; they do not have to exist. They are not meaningful in any way.

I think we should start to get onto the amendments that we have circulated, because the reality is that this legislation is not worth any of the responses that the government is even giving us because none of it is in the legislation. They are hollow words from a government which is designing a piece of law to circumvent the rights of people to arrive here asking for our assistance and the very clear indications that the High Court gave this parliament of the protections that needed to be upheld. My question to the minister, referring to the substance of my amendment 7264 is: what is the definition of indefinite detention? I would like the minister to answer some questions about the amendment. I move:

(1)   Schedule 1, item 25, page 10 (after line 12), after section 198AD, insert:

198ADA 12 month limit on transfer to regional processing country

   (1)   The Minister must ensure that a person who is transferred to a regional processing country under section 198AD is transferred to Australia no later than 12 months after the day on which the person arrived in the regional processing country.

   (2)   Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a person who is not in the regional processing country 12 months after the day on which the person arrived in the country.

   (3)   Section 198AD does not apply in relation to a person who is transferred to Australia under subsection (1).

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Crossin ): Minister, do you need the question re-asked?

Senator Lundy: I am right.