Matters of Public Importance – Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

I thank the member for Wannon, the shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, for this MPI, ‘The immigration minister’s multiple and repeated failures to keep Australians safe’. I actually find it very difficult to be standing here today to talk on this issue. Firstly, it is staggering to me that not one of the members opposite speaking on this MPI has actually defended the minister and his actions— because you cannot defend the indefensible, and that’s what the members opposite are facing. But what’s even more staggering for me personally is that not one person—and not the minister—has talked about the human toll of these decisions, the victims. We’ve heard question after question today, and they do come back to the minister’s decisions. The minister repeatedly in this House has given, over the period of his time, what I think are totally inane answers. It’s a matter of shame for the minister. As we hear these useless platitudes, as they pretend to keep Australians safe, what do the minister and the government think about the victims, all those who have been offended against by, I think, at least 28 of those 150 people since they were released? What about the victims of those people? That’s who I’m feeling for today—those people.

I am a mum and grandma, and I’m very proud of my grandkids, and I think about how a New Zealand citizen, a stepfather, raped his 14-year-old stepdaughter at a time that his partner, her mother, was giving birth to their child, and immediate action was not taken to deport that man. The minister could have cancelled that man’s visa immediately. Surely—surely!—given the circumstances, that should have been the immediate reaction to this. Anybody who would consider what that 14-year-old girl has gone through—and we have heard today question after question about absolutely horrendous crimes being committed against young people, young girls—can’t excuse that. It’s a matter of shame that this minister has sat on this issue. His ministerial direction actually gave strength to this by not deporting the worst of the worst criminals. For anybody who doesn’t think this is catastrophic: how about they go and talk to or listen to the victims of these crimes and then come in here and say, ‘This is not a serious matter of public importance’? How many other women and young girls—the members talk about shock and horror, and beating up fear: try being a single woman or a single young girl who gets caught in this situation. We heard about one repeatedly in question time today. Those opposite try to excuse the minister’s lack of action; I can’t! On our side, we have a shadow minister who can’t excuse that either—and rightly so. Anybody who takes this lightly is condemned, in my opinion.

What on earth did Labor think would happen when the minister himself gave the direction that said the strength, nature and duration of an individual with ties to Australia was a primary consideration in cancelling a visa? Try telling that to the 14-year-old girl who was raped. Try telling that to her as a valid reason for not cancelling the visa, not getting him out of here and not keeping her and others safe. I don’t find that to be a valid reason. I’m actually profoundly hurt that not one of those opposite has spoken about the human toll, because these decisions have caused a human toll. If it were any one of us who had direct connection to these people, we would be standing in this place and saying, ‘It’s not okay.’ I’m standing for all Australians and saying, ‘It’s not okay, and what the minister has done here has been appalling.’