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senate vote 2019-02-13#6

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on 2019-02-14 16:56:27


  • Bills — Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018; Returned from the House of Representatives
  • Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 - Returned from the House of Representatives - Agree with amendments to pass bill


  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ryan</p>
  • <p>I have received a message from the House of Representatives informing the Senate that the House has agreed to the amendments made by the Senate to the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 with amendments and requesting the concurrence of the Senate. I am required by the resolution just passed to propose the following motion in respect of the message:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That the Senate agrees to the amendments made by the House of Representatives to the Senate amendments to the bill.</p>
  • The majority voted in favour of a motion to agree to the [amendments](;query=Id:legislation/billhome/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fsched%2Fr6069_sched_b732df54-d2bf-4e43-8388-5c46b0262413%22;rec=0) made by the House of Representatives to the [Senate amendments]( to the [bill](;query=Id:legislation/billhome/r6069), which means all the amendments are agreed to and so the bill can now pass.
  • ### What does the bill do?
  • According to the [bills digest](, the bill was introduced to make various amendments to migration, customs and passenger movement laws, including:
  • * *clarifying that where the removal of a non-citizen from the migration zone to another country is unsuccessful, a visa is not required to bring the person back to Australia and they remain subject to statutory bars on subsequent visa applications, where applicable;*
  • * *providing that the Minister may make documents available to a person by way of an online account;*
  • * *providing that the Commonwealth may appropriate money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to pay refunds, rebates or drawbacks of customs duty in circumstances where those payments have no other statutory basis; and*
  • * *amending the Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act 1978 to specify that regulations may make provision for the charging and recovery of fees in relation to the Passenger Movement Charge.*
  • <p>The motion may be debated for 30 minutes.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michaelia Cash</p>
  • <p>Not only will the government not be supporting the amendments that were made yesterday in the House of Representatives to this bill, the government will not be supporting this bill, full stop. On this side of the chamber, the Liberal-National government, we understand that a federal government, the Commonwealth government of the people, has a fundamental responsibility to its nation and to its people, and, that is, of course, to maintain border security at all times. This government makes no excuses at all for the position that it takes.</p>
  • <p>What we saw last night in the House of Representatives was Bill Shorten, putting himself forward as the alternative Prime Minister of this country, and the Labor Party attempting to weaken Australia's borders from opposition. Imagine what will happen if Mr Shorten was ever elected as the Prime Minister of this country.</p>
  • <p>The Australian people have a very, very clear choice before them as we head towards a federal election. The Morrison government stands firm and makes no excuses for putting in place the border protection policies that have effectively stopped the people smugglers' trade. As the Prime Minister has stated, when it comes to border security in Australia there is no middle ground; there is only the right ground. You do not blink when it comes to border security, because to do so is to effectively capitulate to the people smugglers. You do not negotiate when it comes to border security. As Mr Howard has always said, the Australian government, the Liberal-National government, are firm believers: 'We will decide who comes to Australia and the terms upon which they come.'</p>
  • <p>We are told that this bill will effectively not really have any effect on the current situation in relation to our borders, and yet we have the Leader of the Australian Greens happily telling people about it. As has been tweeted by a journalist this morning, Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, says he thinks doctors will send several hundred refugees to Australia for assessment or treatment under the bill passed yesterday&#8212;several hundred refugees. Unlike those opposite, who voted last year for this bill without the benefit of listening to our security agencies, we will always listen to our intelligence agencies, and their advice is clear: any weakening of our current border protection policies will reopen the people smuggling trade, and we will once again see the deaths at sea that we had last time, the children in detention and the reopening of detention centres.</p>
  • <p>In relation to Senator Di Natale's boasting that doctors will be sending hundreds of refugees, this is the type of people who the minister will be forced to bring to Australia on the say-so of doctors under the Labor Party's amendments: people charged with bad conduct but not convicted of offences under foreign laws or convicted but sentenced to less than 12 months in prison. As we know, other countries do not have the stance we have in relation to certain crimes. A number of countries hand down lenient sentences for things like domestic violence&#8212;beating your wife&#8212;or paedophilia, if they hand down any sentence at all. It is very hard to convict people of things like rape in some countries because a woman's testimony is worth much less than a man's. A person charged but not sentenced to, say, murder or paedophilia on Nauru will not be caught by this exemption. There is a very important reason you stand firm on border protection, and the Morrison government will never blink.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Kim Carr</p>
  • <p>This is the Home Affairs (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018, and it's important to get context here. It's a simple set of amendments to various pieces of legislation. The government, in its own chicanery, has caught itself out by failing to actually deal with what was a non-controversial bill, which it listed, delisted and listed again. It would normally have been done in non-controversial legislation last year&#8212;it was listed for some time&#8212;but it was, of course, caught up in the melee of last December. And now we have a set of circumstances where we've got some amendments moved to a bill which deal with the fundamental question&#8212;put aside all the palaver&#8212;of Australia's duty of care in terms of the provision of urgent medical support for people for whom we have direct responsibility insofar as our duty of care extends in circumstances where the medical support on Nauru, in particular, has not been good enough. It's a simple proposition. We've heard a shrill, irrational, hysterical approach from this government, who's prepared to say and do anything to cover up the facts&#8212;to cover up the facts, I repeat&#8212;to leak what they claim was to be these incredibly important security issues, to do whatever they need to, to lie and to deceive, and to just cover up the incredible chaos and dysfunction within this government.</p>
  • <p>I say this in this simple context. The great Achilles heel of this government's approach is some simple facts of life. Under this government, the minister said himself on TV last night that they have transferred a significant number of people here from Nauru 'either for medical attention or people in a family unit'. He said that, so I went and checked the figures. What we find is that some 460 people have been transferred from Nauru and Manus according to Senate estimates. Of course, various family members were transferred as well. Nearly 900 people have been transferred. Has that been a signal to the people smugglers? Has that led to the situation where our fundamental national security has been put at risk? Nine hundred people have been transferred under this government in circumstances where the government sought to keep it quiet.</p>
  • <p>So it seems to be the situation that if 900 people are transferred by this government, there's no threat to our borders and no threat to our national security, but if there's a proposition brought forward where we actually regulate the circumstances under which people are moved, for urgent medical treatment under strict supervision, under circumstances where the ministerial discretions are maintained, it actually improves the security that seems to be in deterioration. That's the claim that has been put to the Senate. We've actually got double the number of people being moved off the islands than are being moved to the United States. Double. Have we had an increase in the number of boats arriving? No. The evidence is clearly against the hysterical claims that this dysfunctional, chaotic government is seeking to make.</p>
  • <p>Nine hundred people are moved by this government, and the sky hasn't fallen in. But under these provisions we have proper medical supervision and independent medical advice, and the minister maintains his or her discretion to secure this country, we maintain our duty of care, yet this government tries to turn it on its head, given its own record. There is a fundamental lie at work here, which should be exposed by this Senate. I believe this Senate has a duty to support these amendments and support the message that has come back from the House of Representatives.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Derryn Hinch</p>
  • <p>This has been the toughest decision I've had to make since I came into this chamber. I can announce that I will be supporting the passage of these amendments today. When we voted for it last December, I was mainly concerned with getting children off Nauru. That has eventually happened, and for that I congratulate the government. But the medical aspects of Nauru and Manus are what have swayed me. I have been fully briefed by both sides of this parliament. I had a half-hour briefing with security forces this morning. I do have some doubts about some aspects of it. I'm glad that the 24 hours was pushed back by the Labor Party amendments, and it now goes to virtually 72 hours, and if you add things on to it it can get to one week.</p>
  • <p>What really swayed me was the amendment, which I was surprised that the Greens agreed to, which was the one that it will apply only to people who are currently on Nauru or on Manus. That is a sort of reverse grandfathering; it stops there. It's not an encouragement, I believe, to people smugglers, who are despicable and should be despised, because it will only apply to people who are there. People who are transferred off Manus and brought back to Australia, according to the Department of Home Affairs&#8212;they assured me today&#8212;will remain in detention in some manner or form. So they will not come here and wander around the streets of Australia; they will come here for medical attention. I will acknowledge that the government has spent a lot more money on medical facilities on Nauru and on Manus, but there are conditions which cannot be taken care of there. The doctors who have worked there say there are some medical conditions and situations which cannot possibly be handled there, and they should be brought here.</p>
  • <p>I am still perplexed about some aspects of it. I was quite happy to be accused of flip-flopping if I had gone the other way, because what we voted for in December, according to the Solicitor-General, might not even be constitutional. That was another aspect that came up yesterday. It has been a very tortured 24 hours. There's been a lot of pressure from a lot of people on all sides of the chamber, but that's part of this job. I don't need the full five minutes; I will give over to some people to talk. Now I can proudly say that, yes, I think it's the right decision. It's a humanitarian decision. In the Justice Party world, we have always tried to look after young people, old people and sick people. Well, all those three categories still apply in these amendments, and therefore I will be supporting them.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Nick McKim</p>
  • <p>I say to Senator Hinch that I genuinely believe he's on the right side of history in the decision that he's made today.</p>
  • <p>This Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 is vitally important for refugees on Manus Island and Nauru who have now spent nearly six years detained indefinitely in those countries and who have suffered horrendously as a result. I've been to Manus Island five times and I've seen their suffering for myself. Medical treatment that they need and that the doctors believe that they need will now be available to them in Australia under this legislation. And that is a bare minimum that we should expect in a civilised society. But this bill is actually about so much more than just medical treatment, and its place in our country's history when we look back on this chapter in our collective story means a turning point in the divisive and toxic debate around refugees that's been in this place and this country at least since the MV <i>Tampa</i> hove over the horizon nearly 20 years ago.</p>
  • <p>Last year, the Senate voted for humanity. The Senate voted for human decency, and in doing so it dealt a body blow to those toxic and divisive politics of fear. Yesterday, the house of assembly did the same: they voted for humanity and they voted for common decency, and in doing so, the House dealt a body blow to those toxic politics of fear and division that, ultimately, have caused deaths, sexual assaults, rapes and human suffering beyond the imagining of any senator for so many people on Manus Island and Nauru.</p>
  • <p>Today, the Senate is going to confirm the decision that we made collectively late last year. This is a turning point for our country. When our national story is written, when the historians look at what's happened over the last 20 years and, arguably, longer, at the way that refugees and people seeking asylum have been demonised and deliberately harmed&#8212;and I genuinely hope that there will be a royal commission one day to get to the bottom of how we fell so far in this country&#8212;when historians are writing this dark and bloodied chapter in Australia's story, today and yesterday will be seen as pivotal moments where this parliament rose above that toxicity and voted for humanity and voted for decency.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Tim Storer</p>
  • <p>I rise to speak in favour of the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018. These sick people in our care are now one step closer to getting the quality medical treatment they need without jeopardising our borders. I welcome the comments made by Senator Hinch and Senator McKim just now.</p>
  • <p>I'm pleased to be part of a process which has seen the Australian parliament really at its best in that none of those involved in the discussions which led to the amendments carried by the House of Representatives got everything they wanted. But members of a number of parties, as well as Independents, like myself, came together to achieve a result which should help sick people on Nauru and in PNG who are in our care get the medical attention they require. That's the key focus of the bill. These amendments would not have been necessary had the government not been using the courts to stop sick people coming from these countries to Australia for treatment on the advice of medical personnel.</p>
  • <p>These amendments should now bring this heartless practice to an end and bring greater transparency and objectivity to the existing medical transfer process. We know that more than 800 sick people have already been brought to Australia for treatment without seeing the people-smuggling trade resume. There is no reason to believe that these amendments will change that, particularly with the changes agreed with the House crossbench yesterday. Let us all remember that the boat turn-back policy remains in place. The government should accept the decision of the majority of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate and allow these amendments through this chamber forthwith. The people of Australia will not thank them for any attempts to delay this considered and humane measure. I welcome the prospect of that measure today.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>