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FOR – Business — Rearrangement

Tony Burke

I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent:

(1) debate on the second reading resuming immediately, with the time limit for the first Opposition speaker being 10 minutes, and the time limit for all other Members speaking being five minutes;

(2) the second reading debate continuing for no longer than one hour, after which the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.

I'd indicate to the House that, in a moment, while we have the debate on the contingent motion, the government will move an amendment to what's on the Notice Paper. That amendment is to make sure a few things happen. Firstly, and most importantly, it will make sure that this bill is fully dealt with before we get to question time. The reason for that is that there is a time sensitivity to this legislation, and we want to make sure that the Senate is in a position to be able to consider the bill today. Transmission between the houses means the only way to make sure that's possible is for us to have completed our consideration of the bill prior to question time.

Secondly, and this is not on the contingent motion, there is the capacity for there to be a consideration-in-detail stage at the request of the opposition. We are making sure it that it will be possible for an amendment to be moved in consideration in detail, and that will be part of the amendment to the resolution that I've just moved. The minister has made clear the government's reasons for why this is time sensitive. We're wanting to make sure that both houses have an opportunity in the time that we are here this week to make the decisions that need to be taken in the national interest.

I respect the different views around the parliament in terms of wanting to make sure that legislation is never dealt with in this fashion. I hear those arguments. I'm sure we'll hear those arguments again in a few moments time. The reality is that there is a strong national interest here. There is a particular time sensitivity, and there is a need to make sure that both houses have an opportunity to be able to deal with this issue prior to the parliament rising on Wednesday evening. I commend the motion to you, knowing full well it's about to be amended.

Mark Butler

As foreshadowed by the Leader of the House, I move, as an amendment to the motion by the Leader of the House, that paragraphs (1) and (2) be amended and paragraphs (3) and (4) be added as follows:

That paragraphs (1) and (2) be amended and paragraphs (3) and (4) be added as follows:

(1) debate on the second reading resuming immediately, with the time limit for the first two Opposition speakers being 10 minutes, and the time limit for all other Members speaking being five minutes;

(2) the second reading debate continuing without interruption for no longer than 40 minutes, questions being immediately put on any amendments moved to the motion for the second reading and on the second reading of the bill, after which the bill being considered in detail with the bill being considered as a whole, with all Government amendments to be moved together, all Opposition amendments to be moved together, and any crossbench Members' amendments to be moved as one set per Member, with:

(a) one question to be put on all Government amendments;

(b) one question to be put on all Opposition amendments;

(c) separate questions to be put on any sets of amendments moved by crossbench Members;

(d) one question to be put that the bill [as amended] be agreed to; and

(e) any question provided for under subparagraphs (2)(a) to (2)(d) being put after no more than five minutes of debate on each set of amendments;

(3) at 1.40 pm, if debate has not concluded earlier, the question being put on any remaining questions necessary to complete consideration of the bill; and

(4) automatic interruptions to business under the standing orders, and deferral of divisions, not applying during proceedings on the bill".

Adam Bandt

Firstly, I wonder whether a written copy of the amendment to the contingent motion is available. It has not been made available to us. Secondly, I move:

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"the second reading debate on the Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024 not be resumed until the next day of sitting".

This is extraordinary. Legislation was first made available and introduced to the parliament this morning. Usually it then gets deferred to another day so that people have time to consider it and make considered contributions. When we are talking about something so vital as the relationship between this parliament and the High Court, and the constitutional rights of people and what it means for immigration in this country, and when we see a bill that is introduced here that, in the time that we've had available to look at it, says in express terms 'even if someone has a genuine fear of persecution' they can be forced to do things that could see them put in jail if they're not prepared to go back to the country that they fear being persecuted in—we should have time to consider that and we should have time to debate that and scrutinise it.

Despite what the Leader of the House said, nothing in the immigration minister's speech talked about the urgency of this. It was boilerplate rhetoric that could have been written by the coalition, about maintaining strong borders—and no doubt the coalition is going to get up and talk about how this was all there idea to begin with. Nothing was put forward that justifies us losing the usual rights that everyone in this parliament has to consider such important legislation.

On our reading of the legislation, this could occur: a mum who refuses to sign a passport application for her children to be returned to Iran, where they have a fear of persecution, could be put in jail—not only could be put in jail but with a mandatory minimum sentence. Labor's party platform says Labor opposes mandatory minimum sentencing. No, you don't! It's in this bill! You're saying that someone who has a genuine fear of persecution for themselves or their kids can end up in jail—and not just once but repeatedly. As we read this bill, in the short time that we've had available to digest it, the minister can say: 'I give you a direction to apply for a passport for you and your kids to go back to a place where you have a genuine fear of persecution, and if you don't comply you get put in jail for a year, minimum.'

I want to hear from the minister how he is going to explain what happens when the first woman who is sent back to Iran under this legislation gets put in prison and what happens when the first person who has fled Russia because of a fear of persecution gets sent back there and is no longer contactable. They're the kinds of things that everyone in this place deserves the time to consider and answer.

What we do know—the only glimmer that we've had—is that there is a court case that is on foot where someone is fearing persecution on the basis of their sexuality and their religion. They've identified that; they've stuck their hand up and said that. And before even letting the court decide, the minister says: 'We now want the unilateral power to send you back to a country where you face persecution, where you have a genuine fear that you, yourself, are facing persecution. If you don't do it, we'll lock you up with a mandatory minimum sentence, because Labor has thrown that principle out the window.'

This is Labor desperately trying to outflank the coalition in a race to the bottom on immigration, which is only going to whip up attacks on migrants and more racism in our community. I've got a lesson for the government, a piece of advice: don't try and engage in a race to the bottom with the Leader of the Opposition, because there's nothing he won't do. He has built his career on punching down and demonising people.

To come in here and say, in a speech that could have been written by the Leader of the Opposition himself, 'We are tough on borders'—no. It'll be this today and it'll be something else tomorrow. We were in exactly this position last year, we're in this position now and we're going to be in this position again and again.

If you want to know why Labor's vote went backwards at the last election, why the coalition's vote went backwards and why you have more third voices here than ever before, it's because people want scrutiny over the dirty deals that get done by Labor and the opposition, especially when it comes to people's rights and protecting them. That's why the debate should be adjourned.

Milton Dick

Is the amendment seconded?

Elizabeth Watson-Brown

I second the amendment.

Milton Dick

And you reserve your right to speak.

Zali Steggall

It is deeply disappointing, from the government and from the minister, to find ourselves here now, debating a motion to essentially fast-track this legislation with no delay, no scrutiny and no debate. This is legislation on which we were briefed by the minister only a couple of hours ago, that has numerous questions and detail to which there was no answer from the minister. There are grave questions about the consequences and the far-reaching implications of this legislation, yet you are here asking this place to fast-track it without even 24 hours to consider it. It is outrageous and incredibly undemocratic. It is an absolute parody of what this place is supposed to be about, in relation to looking at what good legislation can do and having the time to consider whether it has unintended consequences.

I would look at the backbenches behind you, Minister. I can imagine everyone squirming because, for everyone, this is uncomfortable. This is not part of the Labor policy platform. As the Leader of the Greens just said, the question of mandatory sentencing is incredibly significant. This is an incredibly important step that has to be taken very carefully with a lot of scrutiny for unintended consequences—the risk in relation to domestic violence and for people that, maybe through domestic violence, abuse or homelessness, find their way into a position where they could be subject to these provisions. There are so many areas that need to be looked at. For people not understanding the consequences of this legislation, this is far reaching. This is asking of people: either cooperate with your removal or we will take action against your entire country, against anyone wanting to come from that country.

In terms of precedents for this, the minister indicated that the UK passed similar legislation two years ago but haven't really applied it, so we have nothing to go by, and then there is the US. So we're in completely new territory. You are saying that, without proper scrutiny or debate, we should all just consider and vote on this legislation. It's says something about the opposition that they are also willing to contemplate that this debate go forward. I haven't heard any speakers yet in relation to slowing this down.

For all of the backbenchers of Labor: are these really the values you subscribe to? Is this what selling your soul to a party means—that you will not have a voice when it comes to very important debates to give proper policy and legislation true scrutiny? Will you go back to your communities and say: 'We waved this through with'—what is it?—'40 minutes of debate. There was no opportunity for consultation with law societies to truly consider the proper implications of this legislation.' I have a lot of time for the minister but I am deeply, deeply disappointed with his actions today, in trying to push this through with such a short time line. If this were such a problem, it should have been worked on for a long time.

It's not going to only apply to those that were released as a direct consequence of the High Court decision. This will apply to many more people that are in these kinds of situations, who are here under bridging visas. We know that the previous Administrative Appeals Tribunal was incredibly bad, slow and ineffective in dealing with a lot of migration and refugee cases. We have a situation now where you've acknowledged that as a government. We've passed Administrative Review Tribunal legislation to have a new body in place, yet you're implementing legislation that will capture many people that fell foul of the AAT, who will be caught by this legislation. It's just so far reaching. It's hard to comprehend that this is the path and the legacy that you, as a government, want to leave behind.

Your legislation doesn't even include a mandatory review period. In the 30 minutes spare we've had since our briefing, we've at least been able to present some amendments to at least ensure there's a review process. But I'm sure the answer from government will be, 'We haven't even had time to consider your amendments, so we couldn't possibly support them.' But here we are being asked to suspend standing orders and put in place a joke of a debate. This is a parody of what democratic debate should look like. Shame on every member of government for supporting this and for coming into this place and doing something that is deeply, deeply undemocratic.

Long debate text truncated.


Date and time: 12:41 PM on 2024-03-26
Allegra Spender's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 13
Total number of "no" votes: 73
Total number of abstentions: 64

Adapted from information made available by

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