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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 8838


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Minister for Rural Health) (19:10): Firstly, Senator, quite simply it is not possible for a person to be coerced into receiving a benefit, and clearly benefit is part of the basis of this bill and what we are doing here. It will only be an offence if the visa holder or potential visa holder sought to obtain or obtained a benefit, and clearly in this circumstance they would not. Therefore, the amendment is unnecessary.

I also indicate to the chamber that it will be made clear under policy that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will only pursue cases where the visa applicant or holder, or other third party, has initiated or is complicit in the payment for visas arrangement. And—I need to be very clear about this—it will not pursue a civil penalty against a visa applicant or holder where payments have been extracted under force or threats or other forms of exploitation, such as those who have been coerced into making payments or have been subject to human trafficking or slavery. I think that is very clear. Indeed, Senator Xenophon, that may well pre-empt some of the questions you were going to ask around the issue of human trafficking. I hope it does, but I am very happy to address further questions if you have them.