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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 6051

Senator Crossin asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 17 October 2002:

With reference to the information kit on the Government's proposed law to excise 3 000 islands from Australia's migration zone:

(1) On what date did the Minister direct that this information kit be prepared.

(2) What advice or information was provided to, and what consultation occurred with, each of the island communities affected by the legislation prior to this date.

(3) Can details be provided of how and when the information kit was distributed, including a complete list of the communities that have been provided with the kit.

(4) Why did the Government not consult with these communities prior to acting to excise the islands by regulation on 7 June 2002.

(5) Can the details be provided of consultations with each of the communities which have since occurred.

(6) What action will the Government take in response to concerns or opposition from the island communities in relation to the proposed legislation.

Senator Ellison (Minister for Justice and Customs) —The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) On 1 September 2002 I signed a proposal from my Department to brief Indigenous communities on the excision provisions.

(2) On 6 June 2002 I wrote to the Chairpersons of the Torres Strait Regional Authority, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the Tiwi Land Council and the Anindilyakwa Land Council, and to the relevant State Government Premiers. I advised them of the proposal to extend the definition of “excised offshore place” and the effect of the proposal. I also phoned, or attempted to phone, these people on that day.

I wrote to the following people:

· Mr Terry Waia, Chairperson of the Torres Strait Regional Authority;

· Mr Geoff Clark, Chairperson, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission;

· Mr Matthew Wonaeamirri, Chairman, Tiwi Land Council;

· Mr Walter Amagula, Chairman, Anindilyakwa Land Council;

· The Hon Dr Geoff Gallop, Premier of Western Australia;

· The Hon Clare Martin, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory;

· The Hon Peter Beattie, Premier of Queensland; and

· The Hon Wilson Tuckey, Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government.

(3) The information kit was first distributed by hand to the Goulburn Island and Elcho Island communities in the Northern Territory, on 10 September 2002. It was subsequently distributed by mail to the following community organisations in the Northern Territory, northern WA and northern Queensland including Torres Strait Islands:

· Northern Land Council, Casuarina

· Ngarda-Ngarli-Yarndu Regional Council

· Yamatji Regional Council

· Malarabah Regional Council

· Wunan Regional Council

· Kullarri Regional Council

· Yilli Rreung Regional Council

· Miwatj Regional Council

· Jabiru Regional Council

· Garrak-Jarru Regional Council

· Peninsula Regional Council

· Townsville Regional Council

· Cairns and District Regional Council

· Goolburri Regional Council

· Torres Strait Regional Authority

· Goolarri Radio and Television Networks

· Imparja Television Network

· CAAMA Radio Network

· Broome Aboriginal Media Association

· TEABBA Radio Network

· Gumatj Association, Nhulunbuy

· Nauiyu Nambiyu Community Government Council

· Bagot Community Inc, c/- Winnellie

· Gwalwa Daranki Association, Nightcliff

· Nguiu Community Government Council, Bathurst Island

· Kardu Numida Council Inc, c/- Winnellie

· Belyuen Community Government Council, Darwin

· Coomalie Community Government Council, Batchelor

· Maninfgrida Council Inc, c/- Winnellie

· Pirlangimpi Community Government Council, Garden Point, Melville Island

· Cox Peninsula Community Government Council

· Milikapiti Community Government Council, Snake Bay, Melville Island

· Warruwi Community Inc, Goulburn Island

· Tiwi Land Council

· Central Land Council

· Daly River Community Development Association

· Minjilang Community Inc, Croker island

· Angurugu Community Government Council

· Marngarr Community Government Council, Nhulunbuy

· Galiwinku Community Inc, Elcho island

· Milingimbi Community Inc, Milingimbi

· Gapuwiyak Community Inc, Lake Evella

· Milyakburra Community Council, Bickerton Island, Groote Eylandt

· Umbakumba Community Council Inc, Groote Eylandt

· Yirrkala Dhanbul Community Association, c/- Nhulunbuy

· Badu Island Council

· Mabuiag Island Council

· Bamaga Island Council

· Mer Island Council

· Boigu Island Council

· Saibai Island Council

· Coconut Island Council

· Seisia Island Council

· Darnley Island Council

· Stephen Island Council

· Dauan Island Council

· St Pauls Island Council

· Hammond Island Council

· Warraber Island Council

· Kubin Island Council

· Moa Island Council

· Yam Island Council

· Yorke Island Council

· Island Coordinating Council, Thursday Island

· Trawq Community Council

· Jarimadanga Burr Aboriginal Community

· Bandaral Ngadu Regional Council

· Bilgungurr Aboriginal Corporation, Broome

· Karmuinunga Aboriginal Corporation, Derby

(4) The Government's Anti-People Smuggling Taskforce provided information in early June that people smugglers would target islands closer to the Australian mainland. The organisers were believed to be avoiding Christmas and Ashmore Islands, and intending routes via waters off northern Australia.

In order to ensure the integrity of Australia's borders, it was necessary for the Government to act as quickly as possible to discourage future people smuggling operations. Accordingly, the Government made Regulations on 7 June 2002 to excise further offshore islands.

When the regulations were disallowed, the Government believed that it had to act quickly to maintain Australia's border integrity, and introduce the Bill, with retrospective operation from the date of the disallowed regulations.

(5) No further consultations to those outlined in (2) and (3) have taken place about the proposed amendments to the Migration Legislation Amendment (Further Border Protection Measures) Bill 2002.

(6) The Government has not received any indication from island communities that they are concerned about or oppose the Migration Legislation Amendment (Further Border Protection Measures) Bill 2002.

Further, the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee inquiry into the provisions of the bill specifically recorded that it had not received any evidence of negative effects of the bill on affected communities. On the contrary, the Committee received evidence from representatives on Elcho Island, and from the Torres Strait Regional Authority, that supported the bill.