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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5676

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (21:00): It is a very fascinating idea that prior to the designation of a country you can review the effectiveness with which the services are delivered in that country. What a fabulous idea, that before you even know which country it is you are satisfied that you have the review that needed to happen, before you even know where it is! This is absolute nonsense from the coalition. Here we have a situation where the coalition spokesperson, Senator Cash, is saying that she is satisfied before a country is nominated as a detention centre or a review has been undertaken of the services that may be provided in that unknown location. That is a complete nonsense.

As to the notion that they will be taking seriously their responsibility to scrutinise when the government put on the table the papers about where the government want us to have a detention centre, Senator Cash apparently was not listening to the fact that the government do not have to put any documents on the table. They can put on the table all or none or some. The coalition will not be able to scrutinise the process anymore than anybody else will, because the documents are not actually required to be tabled. When we were discussing this earlier, it was shown to be very clear in the bill that they do not have to put the documents on the table. All you have to do is to say yay or nay. You have no opportunity to amend it and include anything better or worse, you just have to say yes or no. It is not a disallowance, it is a disapproval and you either approve of what is on the table or you do not. But the government are not required to put on the table all the documents that pertain to what may or may not be agreed in terms of what services or protections might be provided. And so you have no capacity to review them in that circumstance.

What we have is no accountability, no monitoring arrangement, no review, no requirement to put on the table the documents about what an agreement might constitute. We have nothing. All we have is the government saying: 'We're going to choose the places for the detention centres, whether or not we have the documents—it does not really matter. We do not have to have them on the table. There is no review. There is no sunset clause. There is no international law, because nothing is legally binding. There is no natural justice. There is no guardianship for the children we send there.' In fact, as Senator Lundy rightly said, they want to avoid all of this ending up in the courts and the best way of doing that is to make sure they have no legally binding requirements at all. Senator Cash, I am fascinated, and it will be remembered when this is in place, that you have already said as far as you are concerned the review has been undertaken before the country has been chosen.