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Thursday, 4 July 2019
Page: 296

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs) (11:06): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The bill amends the Migration Act 1958 to repeal the provisions inserted by the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019, also known as Labor's medevac law, or the 'bring them all here' law, and extend the existing return and removal mechanisms to transitory persons brought to Australia from a regional processing country under section 198C of the Migration Act.

Labor's medevac law, or 'bring them all here' law, was passed by parliament in February on a lie. There is no medical emergency on Manus or Nauru. There are no children on Manus or Nauru.

Labor's medevac law, or the 'bring them all here' law, which they teamed up with the Greens to rush through the parliament, has only served to weaken Australia's border protection policies by effectively removing the ability of the government to decide who comes to Australia.

The government has significantly less powers to prevent the transfer of a person with bad character under Labor's medevac law, or the 'bring them all here' law, than under any other process. In fact, the minister actually has more power to stop individuals coming on a tourist visa than to stop those with bad character that seek to be transferred under Labor's medevac law, or 'bring them all here' law.

There are currently people in PNG and Nauru who are charged with crimes against children, are being investigated for the supply of illicit drugs or have posted terror-related information online and the government, under Labor's law, has no discretion to prevent the transfer to Australia of those individuals.

Any law which removes the government's ultimate discretion to decide who enters Australia's borders undermines our strong border protection policies. As a nation, it is imperative that we are able to determine who enters Australia and whether they should remain within our borders permanently.

There was never a need for Labor's law. The government's existing medical transfer provisions have brought over 900 people from the RPC in both locations to Australia to receive medical attention. This demonstrates that the medevac laws were nothing more than a short-sighted political tactic for Labor to appeal to Greens voters for the May election.

Let me be very clear, while this bill removes one medical transfer pathway established by the law passed with the support of Labor and the Greens, there will remain the existing process to manage medical transfers. Transferees requiring medical treatment not available in a regional processing country will be able to be transferred to a third country or indeed Australia for assessment or treatment.

Labor's medevac law, or 'bring them all here' law, failed to provide a mechanism to return or remove transitory persons brought to Australia under section 198C back to a regional processing country or third country. Consistent with provisions in place for transitory persons brought to Australia under section 198B, transitory persons are expected to return to a regional processing country once they no longer need to be in Australia for the temporary purpose for which they came. This bill will rectify this inconsistency.

The Department of Home Affairs has advised me that since the Migration Amendment (Urgent Medical Treatment) Bill was first introduced by the former member for Wentworth in December 2018, there has been a marked increase in self-harm behaviours in regional processing countries. Many of these acts are undertaken for the explicit purpose of manipulating the system and gaining access to our country. This bill removes the motivation for transferees to engage in this dangerous behaviour.

This is a mess entirely of Labor's own making. The Labor Party enthusiastically voted for this law to try and contain the Left of their party without having any idea of the consequences.

The Leader of the Opposition should acknowledge this mess and vote with the government to repeal this dangerous law.

I commend the bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned.