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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5633


Senator MILNE ( Tasmania Leader of the Australian Greens ) ( 17:36 ): So that is it. We now have absolute clarity that people can be sent away to another country on the basis of a piece of paper and an assurance from that country that the minister and that country have said, 'Look, we are not going to send those people back to where they came from, or anywhere else, and we are going to treat them however we want to treat them,' and that the assurance is not legally binding. It is just a letter and an assurance from that country and the minister's only accountability is that he or she will table in the parliament that letter of assurance, that document, that says the country said they would do it, and that is an end to it. This proves beyond anything else that this legislation is to get around the High Court of Australia's interpretation of our obligations. That is why they struck down the Malaysia solution. What it was offering was not legally binding in Malaysia, so they struck it down.

This is the Gillard government, with the support of the coalition, abandoning and getting around the High Court's interpretation of our obligations. That is precisely what this is doing and that is made perfectly clear here. Whatever the minister gets does not have to be legally binding and their only accountability is to put that letter on the table and say: 'There you go. That's the assurance I got from Nauru. That's the assurance I got from Malaysia. That's the assurance I got from PNG. That's what they said they'd do.'

What monitoring will take place as to whether that country will send any of these people somewhere else?