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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5663


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (19:52): That is exactly what I was saying. The High Court's decision to uphold the rights of the child and the guardianship responsibilities of the minister in relation to unaccompanied minors, as the minister has just said, does not align with the government's policy intention. That is why we are here: to remove that guardianship from the minister because the High Court's upholding of the legislation was not in line with what the government had in mind. What the government had in mind, as it says in paragraph 271, is to be able to remove noncitizen children—to take them and deport them from Australia under the Migration Act—without the minister having to sign off on it, because he is no longer their guardian. For the third time, I ask about the 10 children—the unaccompanied minors who have arrived on Christmas Island—who are going to be subject to the outcome of this legislation: is it true that when this bill passes tonight the minister ceases to be their guardian and therefore those children will have no guardian? Is it true that the minister will have given up his liability as a natural guardian of a child—in other words, to look out for the best interests of the child—under the rights of the child convention and so on? I just want a straight answer. Is that the effect of what the parliament is doing tonight to 10 children on Christmas Island?