Thursday, 28 June 2012
Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012; Second Reading
I stand by the comment that it is utterly inappropriate to accept a solution from this government. This government has demonstrated so many times over the last four years that it cannot get this issue right, that it fails again and again to work out what is going on and diagnose the problem and identify a solution. We are absolutely right in rejecting the one black-letter solution this government offers us, which is to send asylum seekers to Malaysia and nowhere else, because Malaysia is not the option. Indeed, of all the options available to the government Malaysia is absolutely the worst.
We need to be aware that there are amendments before the chamber today. There are amendments from the Australian Greens and from the coalition. Presumably, if either set of those amendments were to be successful, this legislation would pass the parliament this afternoon and become the law of Australia. I assume the Greens have put forward their amendments in the hope that they would be passed, and that would make the bill palatable to them. It has not been entirely clear from what they have said in the chamber—I am looking for some kind of acknowledgement, but I am not seeing it at the moment.
Senator Ludlam interjecting—
We will find out from Senator Ludlam in a minute what their position is, but I assume they are putting forward amendments in good faith to amend a bill to make it acceptable to the Greens. It would be very irregular to move an amendment to a bill that you do not intend to support, irrespective of whether or not the amendment gets up.
For our part we have moved amendments that we stand behind. If these amendments were passed and incorporated into the legislation it would allow this bill to pass this afternoon and become law. So, we are not faced with the government solution or no solution. We are faced with the government's solution or an amended government bill that makes this legislation consistent with the human rights standards on which Australia has operated for so long with respect to the treatment of refugees. Although there are three amendments on the page, effectively they are one amendment. The amendment says that in designating a country to be an offshore assessment country that country should be determined by reference only to the fact that the country is a party to the refugees convention or the refugees protocol. That is the only thing that we are asking the government to accept in order to make this bill passable by the parliament today. The other place is still sitting. We could easily send an amended bill to the other place. It would pass and the thing would become law. There is nothing else stopping this from becoming law except the government's unwillingness—to quote the word used so often in the chamber this afternoon—to compromise. Compromise works two ways. We are prepared to compromise. You say that you brought a compromise to the parliament, but you have not bothered to work this compromise through with either the coalition, the largest group of parties in the parliament—