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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 3788


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (16:19): Pursuant to contingent notice and at the request of Senator Di Natale, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Di Natale moving a motion relating to the conduct of the business of the Senate, namely a motion to give precedence to general business notice of motion no. 878.

The reason I've sought to suspend so much of the standing orders that would prevent me from having this motion debated and voted on today is the serial inconsistency of the government in dealing with foreign policy motions. Remember, last week, the government granted formality, or did not deny formality, to Senator Bernardi's motion giving President Trump a pat on the back over his actions on the Korean peninsula. I note that Senator Bernardi's motion:

(b) congratulates President Trump for:

(i) achieving a diplomatic breakthrough his predecessors could not achieve,

(ii) advancing the de-escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula, and

(iii) advancing the cause of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

To call those claims 'highly contestable' would be an absolute understatement! Yet today we find that the government won't allow a motion which seeks to condemn the Trump administration for its disgraceful actions in ripping children away from their families as they try to seek asylum in the US. They're doing so by claiming that the Australian Greens' motion is a complex foreign policy matter. If Korea is a simple foreign policy matter, I would hate to see a complex foreign policy matter!

But I think everyone in this chamber knows exactly what's going on here. Senator Bernardi's motion was complimenting US President Donald Trump. My motion is criticising US President Donald Trump. Just drop the charade and admit it: you're not going to allow debate and a vote on a motion that is critical of US President Donald Trump, but you're very happy to roll out the red carpet for a motion that is complimentary of US President Donald Trump. Just drop the charade, Senator McGrath, admit what you're doing here and stop trying to hide behind a veil of claiming that a particular motion deals with a complex foreign policy matter. Ripping children away from their families, acting like fascists and throwing them into cages is not a complex matter; it's highly simple. It's simply disgusting; that's what it is. It's simply disgusting. It should be a very simple question of right or wrong around ripping children away from their families when they try to seek asylum.

Senator McAllister interjecting

Senator McKIM: Unfortunately, what you've got here is a government that's lost its way and lost its conscience. In fact, both major parties, including the party that Senator McAllister represents, have lost their conscience. They cannot speak with any authority on the issue of ripping children away from their families and throwing them into detention, because the Labor Party invented indefinite detention in this country. Every single man, woman and child currently on Nauru who sought asylum in Australia, the Labor Party put them there. The Labor Party put every man on Manus Island in Australia's prison for exiles on Manus Island, and they continue to support the policies, along with the Liberal Party, that have inspired the likes of Donald Trump and other far-right regimes around the world. Donald Trump admitted last week that he looked at what Australia was doing—invented by the Labor Party—before he came up with his appalling policy of ripping children away from their families.

I won't even have time to go to the situation in Biloela, where a family of four were woken in their beds in the dead of night—in the pre-dawn hours—while Border Force people ripped the children and their parents away from their home, away from the community that loves them and is trying to support them. It's only the desperate actions of legal counsel on behalf of refugee advocates that, today, have stopped that whole family from being deported.

Yes, there is outrage in the US at the President's suggestion that he will start deporting people seeking asylum without trial and without due process, but the Liberals and the Labor Party have been doing this for years in Australia! Where do they think he got the idea? He got it right here. Last January, President Trump told Prime Minister Turnbull, 'You're worse than I am.' He's right about that.