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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 2703

Senator JACINTA COLLINS (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) (09:31): I seek leave to move a motion to vary the routine of business for today.

Leave not granted.

Senator JACINTA COLLINS: Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Conroy, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Conroy moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to give precedence to a motion to vary the routine of business today.

For the benefit of senators in the chamber, the motion that I am seeking to move would allow for consideration of general business private senators' bills under temporary order 57(1)(d)(ia) not to be proceeded with and for government business to have precedence from 9.30 for two hours and 20 minutes.

This matter arises to allow for the Senate to consider the very important issues around asylum seekers getting on boats and coming to the mainland. A further incident this week has highlighted the ongoing concerns around our inability to implement the full recommendations of the Houston report. Senators will be aware that government business order of the day No. 2, Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012 has been on the Notice Paper this week and, with cooperation from the opposition, the urgency of this matter has been accepted today so that we deal with this matter this morning rather than the private senators' business legislation and the reinstatement of temporary protection visas, for which there is no agreement.

On that basis I highlight that we need to deal with the issues around people smugglers, who continue to evolve their tactics and will use any trick in the book to try and evade authorities. Border Protection Command uses an intelligence-led approach to the deployment of their aerial and surveillance assets in order to ensure the most rapid deployment in response to distress calls or to intercept suspected irregular entry vessels. However, as we have seen in recent times, three of such ships arrived directly onto our borders.

Whatever you think of this wretchedly difficult policy area, the government of the day should be given the power it thinks it needs to stop the boats. That is what has been denied previously in this debate. I am pleased that today we are able to progress this particular recommendation of the Houston report. We need to implement all of the recommendations of the Houston expert panel, including the Malaysian solution, but we welcome the opportunity to deal with this one today.