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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5652

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (19:02): I just find this extraordinary. As if I was talking about anyone coming to Australia seeking asylum and deliberately choosing to fly into Christmas Island! I ask you! That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard you say here this evening, Minister. People who are seeking asylum and come here by air fly into mainstream airports. They fly into Tullamarine; they fly into the mainstream airports. If you are seeking asylum, as if you would choose to land in a place where you are going to be put into detention immediately! That is just a ridiculous contention.

Let us get back to the facts. As to the issue of whether they would get a visa or not, they are flying in because they have got a visa. They have gone to an Australian embassy or somewhere and got a tourist visa, a student visa—some kind of visa. They come here and then seek asylum on the back of their student visa, their tourist visa or whatever. We have got hundreds if not thousands of people in Australia at the moment who flew in on a valid visa. They have outstayed their visas and they are out there in the community.

Senator Hanson-Young: There are 68,000.

Senator MILNE: There are 68,000, in fact—68,000 people have overstayed their visas in Australia, but they are not to be subjected to the advantage/disadvantage test. The question I want to ask the minister is: why is it that people from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan cannot get visas? Can you please tell me why it is they are not able to fly in on a student visa, a tourist visa or some other visa and seek asylum at the airport? Why is it that they have no option but to come by boat?