The Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (11:50): The Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016, which would amend our migration laws so that certain asylum seekers would never be allowed to enter Australia, is not about securing our borders. It is not about the integrity of our immigration system. This bill is not about relieving the congestion in our cities. It will not improve our trains or our buses and it will not make the traffic flow. It will not help us to get to work on time. It will not give a pay rise to a low-paid worker, struggling to meet the rising cost of living. It will not make their jobs more secure and it will not help the jobseeker find a job.

The bill will not help families who are struggling to pay their mortgages or a single mum who is struggling to find a place to rent. This bill to ban certain foreigners from entering Australia will not help anyone fill their car with a tank of petrol or their shopping trolley with groceries. The bill—a bill to shut out certain asylum seekers—will not save a single worker's job. It will not protect an industry or a struggling business attempting to keep its head above water in the face of cheap import competition. It will not stop the dumping of subsidised steel or fruit into Australian markets. It will not stop unfair trade.

This bill is a bill in search of a policy purpose. It will not bring back Holden. It will not bring back Ford. It will not bring back Toyota or Mitsubishi. It will not resurrect the car industry in Australia. This bill will not stop the mad, evil terrorists who murder innocents in the name of God and it will not make it easier for us to track down these murderous, godless people and remove them from our midst. This bill will not ease the concern that foreigners are buying Australian farmland. It will not stop enterprising, industrious or entrepreneurial migrants from starting a small business with an unfamiliar name in our once-familiar neighbourhoods. It will not increase the pension. It will not fix Medicare or improve our hospitals. It will not reduce taxes. It will not bring stability to the dizzy blur of constant change and disruption that leads us all to wonder, 'Is there anything safe and certain anymore?'

It will not do any of these things, but it is about all of them. Its singular purpose is to ask Australians to suspend their concerns about all these things and focus for that moment that you have in your busy lives on a few wretched souls languishing in captivity on Manus Island or Nauru. It begs us to fix our gaze upon these poor wretched souls and say, 'If these people never made it to Australia, somehow our lives would be better, our borders would be more secure and our nation would be greater.' We know that this is simply not true. The truth is that no country ever became greater by becoming smaller, and so it is with its people. I know that the Australian people are bigger than all of this. They are better than the government that seeks to trick them with legislation such as this. They deserve so much more. We will not support the bill. We call it out for what it is: nothing more than this.

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