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Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Page: 8014


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (18:24): I will be brief. I want to firstly acknowledge and thank the Australian Labor Party for their support for this disallowance. I believe that that means that in fact this disallowance will be successful this evening. I want to put very clearly on the record that, in voting for this disallowance, this Senate is actually doing its job to scrutinise the government. That's one of the primary reasons we get voted into this place: to hold the government to account and make sure that when the government overreaches, which they flagrantly have in trying to put this instrument through the parliament, we exercise our rights as senators to say: 'Stop. Enough is enough. You've gone too far.'

The government has tried to go too far, and the Senate is about to stand up to it and make it very clear to the government that enough is enough. This demonisation, this exploitation of desperate, vulnerable people, has to stop. I hope that in drawing this line in the sand today, which will ensure that life does not get even more difficult for a large number of people who are currently resident in this country, we can see some ongoing improvements in the way that we deal with people who seek asylum in Australia—because one day there will be a reckoning for the way we've treated these people. There will be a reckoning for what's happened on Manus Island. There will be a reckoning for what's happened on Nauru. I'm very confident that there will be a royal commission one day into what's happened on Manus Island and Nauru and the way we've treated people seeking asylum in this country and that when that royal commission is concluded the Australian PM of the day will get up and offer a heartfelt apology for what we've done. Unfortunately, I think it will take the passage of a bit of time before that happens, because the architects of offshore detention—they are in both major parties in this place—will have to leave this parliament before we can come to our collective senses, get the truth out, have the royal commission, make our apologies and hopefully do everything we can to make sure that this shameful period in our country's history never happens again.

We are better than what we have shown over the last 20 years in regard to people who are seeking asylum in this country. We are better than what we have shown over the last 20 years to some of the world's most desperate and vulnerable people. I genuinely believe that support for the way we deal with people seeking asylum is eroding in our community right now. It's eroding because of the kids on Nauru. It's eroding because people in our community are becoming more and more aware of the humanitarian calamity of offshore detention and the denial of basic rights and natural justice to people who are seeking asylum while domiciled in this country. So I thank the Australian Labor Party, I thank the crossbenchers, who I understand are about to support this disallowance, and I commend it to the Senate.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that business of the Senate notice of motion No. 1, standing in the name of Senator McKim, be agreed to.