Nauru Designated For Regional Processing

Nauru has been officially designated a regional processing country under the Migration Act.

The formal action to put in place the government’s about-turn on processing of asylum seekers took place today with the tabling of the legislative instrument in the House of Representatives by the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

The Opposition maintained its position that Howard-era outcomes can only be achieved by the introduction of the full suite of Howard policies, including temporary protection visas and turning back the boats. Shadow minister Scott Morrison moved an amendment along these lines.

Statement released by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

Nauru designated for regional processing

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, has this morning signed the legislative instrument designating the Republic of Nauru as a regional processing country under the Migration Act.

‘I will today table the designation documents in Parliament. Subject to both houses passing a resolution approving the designation, the designation will allow for the transfer of irregular maritime arrivals who arrived after 13 August to Nauru,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘These documents outline the terms of agreement with the Nauruan Government and the fact I have now designated Nauru as a regional processing country.’

The Minister has determined that it is in the national interest to begin transferring people to Nauru as set out in the Statement of Reasons, including:

  • Nauru has given Australia the assurances around the principle of non-refoulement and the assessment of asylum claims in line with the Refugee Convention
  • Designating Nauru as a regional processing country will discourage irregular and dangerous maritime voyages and thereby reduce the risk of the loss of life at sea
  • The designation promotes the maintenance of a fair and orderly Refugee and Humanitarian Program that retains the confidence of the Australian people
  • Designating Nauru as a regional processing country promotes regional cooperation on irregular migration and people smuggling and its undesirable consequences; and
  • Arrangements already in place in Nauru and those that are proposed to be put in place in Nauru are satisfactory.

The Memorandum of Understanding with the Nauruan Government was signed on 29 August. Construction work on the temporary facility is nearing completion and the government expects to be able to begin transferring people to Nauru later this week.

Mr Bowen said the government was committed to implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers.

‘The designation I have tabled today is the next step in implementing the Expert Panel’s recommendations,’ he said.

Further announcements about processing arrangements in Nauru will be made in due course.

Malcolm Turnbull Speech On Same-Sex Marriage

Opposition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has spoken in parliament on the Marriage Amendment Bill.

Turnbull made clear that he supported same-sex marriage but was bound by the coalition’s decision to oppose the bill. He said: “In my view, the numbers would not be there even if there were a free vote on the coalition side.” He called on same-sex marriage proponents to support civil unions.

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s speech on the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (11:37): Following on from my very good friend the member for Leichhardt, let me return the compliment. He has been a vigorous, persuasive and very effective advocate for the rights of same-sex couples and people of a homosexual orientation, and has done a great deal of work, perhaps made more effective because of his unlikely persona as the crocodile farmer from North Queensland, speaking up for the gay community in the widest sense of the word.

Turning to the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012, as honourable members are aware, the coalition has taken a position as a party, and as a coalition party room, not to allow a free vote on this issue. So, like the member for Leichardt, I will not be voting in favour of this bill. Were, however, a free vote to be permitted I would support legislation which recognised same-sex couples as being described as in a marriage. I want to explain to the House why I would do that and also suggest an alternative.

The arguments that have been put against gay marriage fall into three categories. The first one we can call a taxonomic one. They say a marriage is between a man and a woman. You cannot make a table into a chair simply by calling it a chair. It is a table; it does not matter what name you give it. The weakness with that argument is that the definition of marriage has changed again and again over time. In my estimation, at least one-third of the marriages extant in Australia today would not be recognised by the Catholic Church, or indeed by the Anglican Church, because one of the parties to that marriage has been married before and their former spouses are still living. So the truth is that society has defined and redefined marriage again and again. [Read more…]

Malcolm Turnbull’s Speech On Republican Virtues: Truth, Leadership & Responsibility

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a speech on truth, leadership and responsibility in which he argues that there is a “deficit of trust” in the Australian political system.

Malcolm TurnbullThe speech is likely to cause a stir in the Liberal Party. By implication, Turnbull takes a swipe at his 1990s monarchists opponents, John Howard and Tony Abbott, over their campaign of “utterly dishonest misinformation” during the Republic referendum campaign.

Turnbull is dismissive of climate change denialists and the shock jocks who promote them. Again by implication, he attacks Alan Jones and others: “Dumbing down complex issues into sound bites, misrepresenting your or your opponent’s policy does not respect ‘Struggle Street’, it treats its residents with contempt.”

Turnbull is critical of Question Time in parliament. He says of the Opposition’s approach: “For the last two years the questions from the Opposition have been almost entirely focussed on people smuggling and the carbon tax. Are they really the only important issues facing Australia? A regular viewer of Question Time would be excused for thinking they were.”

Whilst Turnbull says the problem with Question Time is its focus on the Prime Minister, his comments will most likely be seen as a criticism of Abbott’s parliamentary tactics.

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s George Winterton Lecture at the University of Western Australia.

Republican virtues: Truth, leadership and responsibility.

Tonight’s lecture honours the memory of a most virtuous republican, our friend George Winterton, who despite the inestimable love and prayers of his wife, Rosalind, died in 2008 at the far too young age of 61.

My topic for this lecture is “Republican virtues – truth, leadership and responsibility.”

I will weave together a little about the republican debate in which George and I were generally comrades in arms (although at times comrades at arms length) with some reflections on the decline of the news media, the not unrelated coarsening in the dialogue between politicians and those who elect them about choices and challenges we face as a community, and the resulting dismay with which far too many Australians currently view their parliaments.

++++++

The visitor to Washington DC is quickly reminded that the founders of the American Republic were fascinated, intoxicated perhaps, with another republic, Rome.

Jefferson, entranced with a Roman temple in Nimes writes to his friend Madame de Tesse. “Here I am madam gazing whole hours at the maison quaree like a lover at his mistress.”

But it was not just the architecture of Rome that inspired the founders. Rejecting the British monarchy which oppressed them, and apprehensive of unbridled democracy, they appealed to the example of the noble Romans, the republican Romans, Cincinnatus, Fabius, Cato – men who had selflessly served the state and defended the rights of the people against tyranny just as the Pilgrims had opposed the established church.

Although separated by two thousand years, but very much alive in the libraries of New England, Puritans and Romans fused in the American imagination as a republic of virtue.

The American revolutionaries, common lawyers after all, reached back to a lost republic just as they were creating a brave new world of their own.

We will not linger tonight to debate again which virtues were republican or how they could be reflected in a constitution or whether, indeed, Jefferson was right in equating republican virtue with free farmers whose sturdy arcadian independence he contrasted with the wage slaves of the factories and emporiums of the city. [Read more…]

Liberals Remember The Labor-Greens Anniversary

On the anniversary of the Labor-Greens agreement signed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2010, this is an advertisement posted on YouTube by the Liberal Party.

This is the text of a release from the Liberal Party.

Two years of a compromised government

Gillard

Two years ago today, Julia Gillard and Bob Brown signed a deal that gave the Greens unprecedented power in the Australian government – and gave us all the world’s biggest Carbon Tax.

The Labor-Greens’ partnership has been a disaster for Australia. Instead of the federal government providing certainty and steadiness, their unpredictability, dishonesty and new taxes have shredded confidence.

For two years, Labor and the Greens have gone after middle Australia – imposing the Carbon Tax, cutting the private health insurance rebate, slashing childcare rebates, and attacking superannuation. [Read more…]

Abbott Sceptical That Gonski Is “Doable At This Time”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is not convinced that the school funding recommendations of the Gonski report are “doable”.

Addressing the Heads of Independent Schools in Canberra today, Abbott said: “I have to say to you..that while I am strongly supportive of reasonable steps to boost funding in education and while I am deeply desirous of better schools, both independent and state schools, I am deeply sceptical that Gonski is doable at this time, given all the other fiscal demands that state and Commonwealth governments face.”

Tony Abbott

Abbott’s speech on school funding came under attack from Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Question Time. An exchange between the two leaders led to Abbott being kicked out of the House for one hour.

Text of Tony Abbott’s Address to the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia and Independent Schools Council of Australia National Forum, Canberra.

I’ve got to say that I have been very lucky as a human being in the education that I have received. Starting off at school – Holy Family Convent, Saint Aloysius’ College, Saint Ignatius’ College and then at Sydney University, Oxford University, and St Patrick’s College, Manly – I have been very personally lucky in those who have educated me.

Next to my father, the person who I believe has had the most influence on my life, so far as least, was one of my teachers, the extraordinary Jesuit, Father Emmet Costello, who may well be known to some of you in this room. I recall as a strapping adolescent in Year 11 joking with the slender scholar in the playground and I said to Father Emmet, ‘you know, Emmet, I’m so strong that I could pick you up and put you in my top pocket’ and the distinguished Jesuit said, ‘yes and if you did that you’d have more brains in your top pocket that you’ve got in your head’. So, I learned early on not to match wits with teachers! [Read more…]

Tony Windsor Attacks Tony Abbott

Tony Windsor, the independent member for New England, has attacked Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during a motion to suspend Standing Orders in Parliament today.

Malcolm Turnbull Pays Tribute To Robert Hughes

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a moving tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives today.

Malcolm Turnbull

Hughes, writer and art critic, died on August 6, aged 74.

Turnbull’s wife, Lucy, was Hughes’s niece. Hughes’s brother, Tom, the Sydney barrister and a former Liberal member of the House (1963-72), was in the public gallery with his wife during the condolence motion.

  • Listen to Turnbull’s tribute (13m)

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Tom Hughes and wife

Malcolm Turnbull

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (14:21): Can I thank, on behalf of Bob’s family, the very generous words of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the minister. Bob would have been very chuffed to hear them, if a little bemused. He was the youngest of four. His brother Tom who is with us today with his wife, Chrissie, Lucy’s father, the elder by 15 years, became in effect in loco parentis after Bob’s father, Geoffrey, died when he was only 12.

Bob’s father, Geoffrey, was a hero, and not just to his youngest son. He had been a fighter ace in the First World War and among his many victories had shot down no less than Lothar von Richthofen, the brother of the Red Baron himself.

The Hughes family were staunch and pious Catholics. Bob’s great-grandfather, John, had made a fortune, but as Bob often lamented, had given away most of it in building churches and schools. John had established the Order of the Sacred Heart in Australia, his daughters had become nuns and the Hughes family home, Kincoppal, had become a convent and a school. If John Hughes was not in heaven, Bob often said, God didn’t know the value of money. [Read more…]

Tony Abbott Speech On Free Speech

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has addressed the Institute of Public Affairs on freedom of speech.

Tony Abbott

Abbott committed a future Coalition government to repeal Section 18(c) of the Racial Discrimination Act, the section that Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching in a case brought by nine indigenous people.

Abbott also rejected the recommendations of the Finkelstein report.

The Liberal leader’s speech otherwise tied the question of media freedom to the actions and policies of the Gillard government. He said of the Coalition: “We stand for freedom and will be freedom’s bulwark against the encroachments of an unworthy and dishonourable government.”

  • Listen to the introductions from Rod Kemp, Chris Berg & Tom Switzer (18m)

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  • Transcript of Tony Abbott’s speech to the Institute of Public Affairs.

    FREEDOM WARS

    Right now, Australians are understandably and necessarily impressed by China, a country which has liberalised its economy without liberalising its polity. Lifting several hundred million people from poverty into the middle class in a single generation certainly is one of the great economic transformations in human history.

    China’s success, though, need not mean that liberal democratic freedoms are merely an optional extra for countries that take nation building seriously. The communications revolution is affecting China no less than everywhere else, despite official misgivings. The blogosphere and tweeting could soon give even China the “question everything” mindset that has been so important to other countries’ creativity and weight in the world.

    Then there’s India which has achieved a scarcely less remarkable economic transformation while largely preserving democracy, the rule of law and comparative freedom of speech. Two decades after Francis Fukuyama jumped the gun to proclaim the end of history and the triumph of liberal democracy, it would be equally presumptuous to conclude that western civilisation’s moment has largely passed. History’s lesson is still that countries are stronger, as well as better, with democratic freedoms than without them. [Read more…]

Abbott Releases Foreign Investment Discussion Paper

The Coalition has released a discussion paper on foreign investment in agricultural land and agribusiness.

Abbott, Truss & Hockey

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said “the Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment”. However, “there is scope to improve Australia’s foreign investment regime when it comes to investment in agricultural land and agricultural business”.

The paper was released by Abbott, Nationals leader Warren Truss and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey in Sydney today.

The paper is titled: “Foreign Investment In Australian Agricultural Land And Agribusiness”. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has been put in charge of managing a “Discussion Paper process”. Submissions to the process are open until October 31, 2012.

Abbott, Truss and Hockey discussed foreign investment at a press conference this morning:

Media release from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the Foreign Investment Discussion Paper.

The Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment.

Foreign investment has been and will continue to be instrumental to the economic development and growth of Australia.

We support a foreign investment regime that strengthens our economy, promotes growth, and fosters confidence that foreign investment is in our national interest. [Read more…]

Hockey: Springsteen Not A Basis For Sound Public Policy

The Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has castigated Wayne Swan for being inspired by Bruce Springsteen.

“We might as well have Glenn A. Baker and Molly Meldrum running the country,” Hockey told a media conference.

Joe Hockey

“This is another ‘look at me’ speech… this is the clown trying to run the circus… it says everything about this government that it’s guided by the principles of a rock singer rather than any enduring philosophy that builds a stronger nation… I see rock and music as entertainment, I don’t see it as the benchmark of guiding principles for the destiny of a nation…”

Mr. Hockey said he was inspired more by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, or “a Menzies who said we should be a nation of lifters not leaners, or a Howard who says the things that unite us are far bigger than the things that divide us. Or a Teddy Roosevelt who said it’s far better to dream mighty things, to seek glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to be amongst those poor souls who neither suffer much nor enjoy much because they live in the great twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

  • Listen to an indignant Hockey’s media conference

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[Read more…]