Migration Amendment (Strengthening The Character Test) Bill 2019

Monday, 25 October 2021

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) (13:07): I want to thank the member for Sturt to his commitment to community safety. One of the main reasons we find that people want to come to Australia is because of our great reputation of being a safe and fair society. But community safety is absolutely a priority of people who have been here a long time and people who have come to our country as well, and I thank the member for Sturt for this question.

The government has put forward, for three years now, legislation to increase the government's ability to protect Australians and community safety from serious criminals in so many categories that I have outlined to the House before. I want to update the House that this bill will come back here and that we will continue to pursue this legislation every day and every week until we're able to do this, to secure better laws to protect Australians from serious criminals who don't come from Australia and to stop people from ever coming here in the first place who pose a great risk to Australians. These are straightforward laws; they're serious laws and they're serious crimes that we're talking about. The bill is well constructed, and the Labor Party knows that.

In terms of contrary approaches, though, we have seen from the Australian Greens a particularly contrary approach in recent weeks. In fact they seem to hate the bill and everything it represents. Senator Mehreen Faruqi says that the bill is damaging and toxic, and is glad that the bill didn't pass—a law to protect Australians. Nick McKim says we're stigmatising and persecuting people. In a sense, he has that right: on people who are perpetrating crimes against Australians, the government does take that view. In other ways, we heard the Greens say that this is early onset fascism, putting forward laws to protect Australians from people who will commit serious, violent and sexual offences.

A government member: Why does Labor vote with the Greens then?

Mr HAWKE: In the Senate, of course, we've seen Labor vote with the Greens on this, and in the House we've seen it in as well. That's why it was interesting last week to see an article by AAP entitled 'Greens target balance of power under Labor'. We've seen this movie before. This isn't a Hollywood blockbuster that we're watching again. It's like watching all 10 seasons of Friends again. In the article, the member for Melbourne was asked—in terms of contrary approaches—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order?

Mr Burke: On direct relevance: what he is referring to now doesn't even reach alternative policies. He's reading different newspaper articles that he'd like to have a conversation about. I don't see how this comes to the question at all.

The SPEAKER: I call the minister. I'd ask him to be relevant to the question.

Mr HAWKE: I'm speaking about the contrary approaches I was asked about. The contrary approach is the Labor Party, the Leader of the Opposition, supporting the member for Melbourne in terms of his opposition to these laws to deport foreign criminals from Australia. That's what I'm talking about. In this article, the member from Melbourne was asked what sort of Prime Minister the Leader of the Opposition would make. The member for Melbourne said, 'A better one if the Greens are there to push him.' I say to the Labor Party: you are better than this. Don't support the Greens on these laws. Drop your opposition to them and join the majority of Australians in supporting the government on more powers to protect Australians from foreign criminals and people who do the wrong thing.

Mr Albanese interjecting—

Mr HAWKE: And if you want to stand there and do that right now and intimidate me, I say to you: drop your opposition to this bill and support our laws. (Time expired)