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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5675


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (20:56): I support this amendment. It is similar in tone to and it covers the same territory as my second reading amendment, which I note that the Greens supported but which was not supported by the government or the opposition. I have to take issue with the government's response to this. The government seems to think that this amendment will somehow undermine the intent and the efficacy of this bill. I do not see that. That does not make sense to me. Simply having a review would mean that the legislation is monitored, that the legislation is checked to see whether it is effective against a whole range of criteria, including whether or not it stops or significantly reduces unauthorised boat arrivals in Australia and what impact there is on human rights. It could also look, for instance, at the cost implications of this legislation. An independent review would do that, and I cannot see how that would in any way send a signal to people smugglers that there is some backing away from this legislation. In fact, an independent review could say, for instance, that the legislation needs to be strengthened. It could make any of a range of recommendations.

This is not a criticism of the government, but the fact is that the government has changed its position in relation to offshore processing to a large degree as a result of the Houston report. I think the expert panel has been a very useful exercise, resulting in a good and thorough report prepared by good and decent people.

So rejecting the idea of an independent review, rejecting the idea of scrutiny of this bill, rejecting the idea of ensuring that this bill is monitored for its effectiveness baffles me. I do not think that the reasons we have heard tonight from the government are adequate or logical in the context of what this amendment is attempting to do. I will be supporting this amendment.