I rise today in this House to register my dissent to this bill, the Migration Amendment (Removal and Other Measures) Bill 2024. I’m now hearing arguments from the opposition that, quite frankly, are so disingenuous. If you genuinely have concerns with this bill, why not support our call for an adjournment? Why rush an inquiry tonight under the cover of darkness? Why not do this properly?

This bill is setting up a removal pathway for noncitizens. Under the bill, the minister can designate a country that refuses to accept involuntary removals and then order a person in Australia from that country who has so far refused to leave Australia to take steps to facilitate their removal. Failure to do so then incurs mandatory sentencing of 12 months. Mandatory sentencing is a very serious law. To be clear, a person who refuses to comply with the minister’s direction to apply for a passport will be charged with an offence that attracts at least 12 months in prison. This is not something we give a few minutes of thought to, I would’ve thought.

I understand there are people in Australia who have exhausted all visa options and have no legal right to be here. I understand there is a problem here to be solved. But, I’ve got to say, the minister this morning gave no indication and no clarity around the urgency of slamming this legislation through this House with barely a moment for members to consider the legislation or read an explanatory memorandum, let alone have an opportunity to speak in this House. What a disgrace! A suspension of standing orders, a gag motion, a whole raft of explanations of such paucity of logic from this government to justify why our democracy can’t operate as it should, a democracy that supposedly allows any member of the House of Representatives to stand and give their view on a piece of legislation—seriously, I can’t believe it. I came to the last parliament, where I heard the opposition, now the government, screaming blue murder when the coalition tried to do things like this, and here we are, with something as consequential as an immigration bill such as this—something on which the Kaldor Centre quite rapidly sent information through in the last few minutes saying that they believe this is quite possibly the most egregious of all the rushed immigration bills that have come before us in the last few months.

Consider this. We have rushed through this House legislation which is now being challenged constitutionally. We are all conscientious legislators—that’s why we’ve been sent here—and being a conscientious legislator means that you give due consideration to the legislation that’s before you. What a joke! As if we can do that in less than a couple of hours! Then, even if we could do that—and I pay tribute to the member for North Sydney, who got a pretty good grip on this pretty fast—we don’t even get the chance to speak about it if we want to.

I’m not going to continue, because I know I have other colleagues who want to say something, but I just want to say that if this is the best democracy that this Labor government can give us on an issue as important as immigration then I am sorely disappointed in this Labor government, and I’m sure that my constituents are too. Australia, if you are listening, you need to be worried.

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