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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5668


Senator CASH (Western Australia) (20:18): The coalition will not be supporting the Greens amendment No. 7266. In relation to the amendment, I make the following point: the bill as drafted now includes a provision put forward by the coalition and agreed to by the government which ensures that the parliament will now be the arbiter of protections, whereas previously the government had stripped out protections for offshore processing from the Migration Act and replaced them with nothing at all. The bill that we have before us now ensures that case by case countries to which offshore arrivals are sent will be approved by this parliament. This, of course, means that a very heavy burden of responsibility now falls upon the parliamentarians in this place and the diligent implementation of the law.

History records that previously under a coalition government there were section 198A protections in the Migration Act. These were introduced by Mr Philip Ruddock, the member for Berowra, when he was the minister for immigration to ensure that people processed offshore had legally binding protections. In relation to the bill that we are debating tonight, as I have stated, the parliament by affirmation of both chambers must approve a country for offshore processing. So in going forward, a heavy duty falls on this parliament to ensure that there are protections in place and that the protections are examined and properly scrutinised before the offshore processing country is agreed to. I reiterate the words of the shadow minister who said in the other place:

… and the government should stand warned that the coalition will scrutinise the protections very carefully if they seek to bring countries forward to be designated in this way.

The coalition will not be supporting the Greens amendment.