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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5684

Senator CASH (Western Australia) (21:42): In relation to the Greens amendment with the sunset clause, if Senator Milne wants to stand here tonight and talk about being inhumane, perhaps she can explain to the people of Australia who are listening in why the Greens by their very actions tonight, and the obtuse comments that they have continued to make, support policies that encourage people to get on boats and risk their lives to come to Australia. In the case of what we know, nearly a thousand people, because of policies that the Greens support, have actually lost their lives on the journey to Australia.

If Senator Milne wants to talk about being cruel and inhumane, what does Senator Milne say to the millions of refugees who have not spent one year in a camp, who have not spent five, 10 or 15 years in a camp but who, in relation to the ones that come into my office, have spent 20 long years in camps in Africa? All of their children were born in camps in Africa because they did not have the means or the opportunity because of policies like yours to get on a boat, pay a people smuggler and jump the queue and come to Australia. To those people who come to my office in Perth who spent 20 years in camps in Africa doing the right thing, Senator Milne says: 'Too bad, so sad. We don't care about you because our policies will only support those people who have the means and the opportunity to come to Australia through unlawful means.'

Without a doubt, Mr Chairman, the Greens with their final amendment tonight have shown that they are not interested in stopping the people smugglers. In fact, people say to me, and I can understand why, that the Greens without a doubt are the best friends people smugglers will ever have. The Greens are not interested in offshore processing.

Senator Milne: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: Senator Cash shows absolute ignorance in her remarks and I utterly reject and find extremely offensive her suggestion that anyone in this parliament would be a friend of the people smugglers.

The CHAIRMAN: You are debating the point, Senator Milne. It is not a point of order.

Senator CASH: Without a doubt the Greens policies well and truly encourage the people smugglers and the people smugglers are very happy with the policies that the Greens support. The Greens have shown that they are not interested in stopping the boats because they know that they only want onshore processing and open borders. The Greens do not take their responsibilities seriously as parliamentarians in ensuring the security of this nation. But what the Greens have shown tonight—and in particular with this final amendment by which a sunset clause on the legislation that we are discussing is proposed—is that is as of 16 August 2012, never ever have the Greens been more out of touch with mainstream Australia.

As much as it is going to pain the Greens, as distressing as tonight is going to be for the Greens, I say to them: this bill does not need a sunset clause. That is the last thing that this bill needs. What the bill does need—and I also address these comments to the government—is the final two steps in the coalition's proven border protection policies. There is one party in this place that has solved the issue of border protection and that party is the party of the coalition. Our policies have been proven to work. Whilst tonight I welcome, as a member of the coalition, the government's monumental backflip that they have performed on the border protection issue and the fact that they have finally decided to agree with the coalition when it comes to the direction that this country should take and the policies this government should take when it comes to border protection, the government are only implementing but one of our steps and there are two more for it to implement.

In relation to the coalition's position on a sunset clause, I say this: whilst we support the legislation that is before us today, the coalition in no way steps back from our policies of reintroducing temporary protection visas and turning back the boats where it is safe to do so. We are now supported in those two policy objectives by the report of the expert panel. The report of the expert panel does not, as the Greens propose with this amendment, propose a sunset clause. Far from it; the report of the expert panel has clearly come down in favour of the coalition's policies when it comes to border protection.

The government—and it knows it needs to do this—should implement the full suite of these measures and if it does not it cannot expect the same outcome that the Howard government achieved when it was in power. The policies of the former Howard government were not policies that were cooked up overnight. They were not policies that were produced in the last six weeks. These are policies that are the result of more than 10 years of both successful implementation and continual refinement and which will be fully reinstated by a coalition government if and when we are re-elected. The coalition has been consistent when it comes to border protection, and the public trust the coalition and our policies when it comes to border protection.

So I say to Senator Milne, the last thing this bill before us tonight needs is a sunset clause. If you truly believe that it does, then you are more out of touch with mainstream Australia than even I could have thought that you were. The bill before us tonight needs to be passed and it needs to be passed in a timely fashion. Then it is for the government to consider very carefully that if it truly does want to stop the boats and to break the people smuggler model—as the minister has outlined on a number of occasions tonight in response to questions from the Greens—it has to acknowledge the passing of the bill tonight is a step forward but it is only that and there are another two steps that the government needs to take. The coalition does not support the Greens amendment.