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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5679

Senator LUNDY (Australian Capital TerritoryMinister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Sport) (21:22): Both senators are asking for a level of detail that is beyond the scope of arrangements that have been determined as yet. I will respond to their questions by saying that we will act in accordance with the Houston report recommendations. I am not in a position to convey to Senator Milne, through you Chair, details about access to the facilities. These things will be determined by the nature of the agreement that Australia has with the designated country, mindful of course that it is with another country. So I am not able to provide the detail with respect to the issue of access.

I take issue with the claim that parliament is somehow an ineffective watchdog or source of accountability. I reject that completely. I can assure you as a member of the government that we take extremely seriously the capacity of this parliament to scrutinise government's goings on. We are all here on that basis. We all carry with us a confidence in the parliamentary processes. I think that as senators and as members of the House we uphold the dignity and processes of this parliament. I think it is plain wrong to say that this is a place of ineffective scrutiny, thereby making a demand for other mechanisms. I believe the mechanisms we have put in place go well beyond those that have existed previously. It was never previously a requirement for offshore processing to strike agreements that endured the scrutiny of parliament. That is a recommendation we have accepted from the Houston review and it is one that I am very pleased to be presenting to the parliament. I am surprised at the scepticism being displayed by the Greens party about the veracity of this accountability measure.