Mr OAKESHOTT (Lyne) (14:21): I would like to reiterate that this bill, the Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012, should pass this parliament not only because of events today but also because of events of the last decade. I urge all members of this House to at least allow this to be tried—and, by all means, if it does not work, take it to the next election, take it to the people. But we should in this chamber allow an executive to do its job. This is in no way running interference on community based detention, on onshore assessment or on issues of genuine refugee and asylum status in Australia. This is, as much as anything, trying to stop the loss of life at sea of people trying to get to Australia for a number of reasons. This is trying to reach bilateral agreements with countries in the Asia-Pacific region to slow the movement of people within our region. This is attempting to try to break criminal syndicates that are running off the edges of asylum seekers and genuine refugees and are involved in the insidious trades of people smuggling and—the one that does not get much airtime in Australia but should—the worst crime of all, in my view, the crime of people trafficking, particularly in the sex trade in the Asia-Pacific region and, yes, right here in Australia as well.
I want to clarify again what I wrote to all members on 13 March—that is, that this is not a carbon copy of the government's Malaysia bill. This is a combination of three things. Firstly, it is trying to codify in domestic law the Bali process, which is a bipartisan process started by Alexander Downer in 2002, continued by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and others and co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia. With the Indonesian President coming here next week, what better message from this parliament than to say that we as an Australian parliament want to reach out to Indonesia and work together to slow the movement of people in our region? The Bali process is the regional cooperation framework—and I am happy to once again, if required, recirculate the key principles of that Bali process. They are good, defining principles for what I think we are all trying to achieve with respect to border protection and humanitarian issues in dealing with refugees and people smugglers. That is the first part of this bill.
Secondly, it does pick up on elements of the government bill in response to the recent High Court decision. That is a game-changer. This bill does pick up on part of that.
Thirdly, it also picks up on is the Liberal-National coalition amendments to the above bill, which attempt to allow only countries participating in the United Nations 1951 refugee convention to participate in bilateral agreements on offshore assessment. On this third point, I refer you directly to the following sections of the bill that try to pick that up—section 198AB and section 198AC, which look at offshore assessment country processes and the way that documents should be now laid on the table so that basically anything the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship does from here on has to come before the parliament, and organisations like the International Office of Migration and the UNHCR have to table documents in this place in a transparent way and in a way that allows for debate to continue in this chamber.
It is not correct that the Leader of the Opposition says that the coalition's position has been consistent—and I am happy to recirculate the letter I sent to everyone on 13 March which identifies the significant shift in the position of the coalition and their relationship with the UN refugee convention. They have flipped on that in the last two years and are now using that as a straw man argument to run interference on getting this parliament to do something.
Today is the day that we do something, and I urge this House to finally pass this bill.