Contact Melissa

Geraldton:          Broome:  
(08) 9964 2195    (08) 9192 7216

Canberra:          Merredin: 
(02) 6277 7840  (08) 9041 1749

Email Melissa

Speeches

Bill, Migration and Maritime Powers 2014, asylum legacy caseload

How wonderful it is to have such support in the House today. I appreciate that all my colleagues here also appreciate how important this bill. So I am delighted to rise to speak on this bill, which of course is important to constituents Australia wide who want to see an end to the arrival of illegal boats and a satisfactory humanitarian solution to Labor's legacy of illegal maritime arrivals.

For my constituents in rural and remote parts of Australia's north-west, it is of special importance because it will benefit those seeking to fill job vacancies, those seeking to grow their business, those seeking longer term employees to become part of the community, and those that welcome ethnicity and diversity as a vibrant addition to the fabric of this multicultural community. And there are many in Durack.

The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 amends a number of acts and regulations—including the Migration Act and Regulations, the Maritime Powers Act, and the Immigration Act—in support of the government's strategies to combat people smuggling and to manage asylum seekers, both onshore and offshore. The bill fundamentally changes Australia's approach to managing asylum seekers in various ways, such as reinforcing maritime operations to stop people smuggling at sea; strengthening border security and maritime enforcement operations; introducing temporary protection for those who arrived in Australia illegally; introducing more rapid processing and helping to resolve protection applications efficiently; and, deterring the making of unmeritorious protection claims.

The measures in this bill are a continuation of the government's protection reform agenda and clarify that there will not be permanent protection for those who travel to Australia illegally. Essentially the bill is designed to resolve Labor's outrageous and callous legacy. Our government has designed a package of measures to resolve the immigration status of a caseload of 30,000 human beings who arrived illegally under the former Labor government. The bill honours our promise to restore border protection and immigration measures to stop the boats. These measures, successfully used under the Howard government, were abolished by the former Labor government, leading to the abhorrent unresolved caseload of 30,000 human beings just left waiting. The bill re-introduces temporary protection visas and, importantly, introduces a new safe haven enterprise visa, SHEV, which is also a temporary visa. The bill reinforces the government's powers to turn back boats and introduces rapid processing and streamlined review arrangements.

Specifically, the bill amends the Migration Act to (1)    introduce temporary protection visas for unauthorised arrivals, whether by air or by sea, who are found to engage Australia's protection obligations; and (2) create a new visa class to be known as a safe haven enterprise visa. The government is providing temporary protection to illegal maritime arrivals found to engage Australia's protection obligations. The temporary protection visa will be granted for a maximum of three years and will provide access to Medicare, social security benefits and work rights.

These people will be provided with stability and a chance to get on with their lives—which, of course, is the humanitarian thing to do—while at the same time guaranteeing that people smugglers do not have a 'permanent protection visa product' to sell to those who are thinking of travelling illegally to Australia. The temporary protection visa will be for a period of up to three years. Thereafter a person's circumstances will be re-examined and if found to still be owed protection by the Australian government will only be granted a further temporary protection visa or a safe haven enterprise visa, which is also a temporary visa.

I shall specifically speak to the new safe haven enterprise visa—or SHEV, as it will now be known—which points to mutual benefits for the visa holder and potentially for nominated communities and businesses throughout Australia. The SHEV, once created and promoted, has the potential to assist small business considerably, particularly in regional Australia; strengthen regional Australian communities; and also reward enterprise. Very importantly, it is also a temporary visa, but in addition to Medicare, social security benefits and work rights, it will encourage earning and learning as well. The holder of a SHEV, which is valid for five years, will work in designated regional regions. If after 3½ years the holder has worked without income support they can apply for onshore visas, such as family and skilled visas as well as temporary skilled and student visas.

Government members interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Those members down there on my left who are conducting a conversation, they might do that outside of the chamber while the member for Durack is speaking and show her the respect that they would want in this chamber.

Ms PRICE: I just note that the SHEV is a very important visa, which I am sure my National colleagues would appreciate given they are all from regional areas.

Mr Nikolic interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: And the member for Bass is interjecting outside of his place in this chamber now!

Ms PRICE: The holder of a SHEV, which is valid for five years, will work in designated regions. If after 3½ years—I am repeating myself now, but I think it is worthwhile saying this again—they have worked without income support they can apply for onshore visas, such as family and skilled visas as well as temporary skilled and student visas. Of course we all hope that after 3½ years the SHEV holders will have found a place in the community and the potential for a family visa would be welcomed by that community.

As we know, Australia is a multicultural community and there will be many members and senators in this place who come from families who escaped their old country for a better life in Australia—some legally and others as best they could—perhaps as a stowaway on a boat, and we have all no doubt heard those stories. Now embedded in the Australian community, those people are making an enormous contribution—perhaps socially and of course economically—to the wellbeing of our communities, our electorates and, indeed, our nation. The SHEV has the added bonus of offering work and study, which of course leads to opportunities that can be provided in Australia that simply are not available in many places throughout the world.

These proposed amendments enable a visa to be granted to illegal maritime arrivals who are found to comply with Australia's protection obligations and who are willing to commit to working and/or studying in a designated regional location. This new category of visa will address some of the shortages of skilled people and labour in areas of Durack while providing the visa holder the opportunity to contribute to the economic and social development of regional Australia as well as a better life. It is important to stress that no-one will be forced to live or work in a particular area, but the SHEV provides that option. It is not a requirement for a temporary protection visa to live in one of these designated areas. The SHEV requires the applicant to commit to work and/or study in a regional area, but should they not wish to make this commitment they are able to apply for a temporary protection visa only.

Our government seeks to reward enterprise and this will encourage growth in regional Australia. Regional communities in Durack that are seeking to fill job vacancies and grow their business are able to benefit from this proposed legislation. The SHEV will be an alternative temporary visa and encourage enterprise through earning and learning. The SHEV will bring more people to the regions to participate in and contribute to the community and the economy—to attend learning institutions, to use services, to add a multicultural flavour and to work in new and different businesses—and this all leads to growth in regional Australia.

Durack towns such as Carnarvon and Kununurra and different parts of the Wheatbelt region have been seeking useful and appropriate visa and employment arrangements for some time. Small businesses need steady reliable employees while some agricultural and horticulture enterprises are seeking repeat reliable seasonal employees. Government, in particular local government, in regional towns of Durack are often pursuing long-term employees to live in and contribute to the community—not always easy to achieve. The new safe haven enterprise visa will benefit towns, businesses and, importantly, illegal maritime arrivals who may have left behind bitter circumstances and no economic opportunities and who are keen to both earn and learn as well as have a new life.

SHEV holders will be welcome in Carnarvon. This coastal town on the mouth of the Gascoyne River is midway between Geraldton in the Mid West region and the iron ore province of the Pilbara. Horticulture, fishing and agriculture have long been the lifeblood of the town of Carnarvon and, as one might expect, the mango and banana plantations and the farms are owned and worked by a range of Asian families, primarily Vietnamese; European families, primarily Croatian and Italian; and Australian families. They have labour needs that cannot be satisfied locally; likewise the Carnarvon tourism and hospitality sectors. For a long time the Carnarvon small business sector and horticulturalists have bemoaned the current visa arrangements, and more recently have rejoiced at the announcement of the new SHEV. Should Carnarvon apply to become a designated area, then SHEV holders will be transposed to a warm and inviting multicultural community, a diverse and thriving town on the Coral Coast with whale sharks and the Ningaloo reef, and with a fine TAFE facility—and plenty of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. SHEV holders will be welcome in Carnarvon.

In the far north-east of my electorate, in the Kimberley, the small town of Kununurra lies just 37 kilometres from the eastern Australian border with the Northern Territory. It has an abundance of fresh water, conserved by the Ord River dam, with tropical agriculture crops grown in the Ord River irrigation area. Tourism and mining have also become important to the local economy. Many communities in Australia typically have a colourful history of immigration and multiculturalism, as does Kununurra, including considerable foreign investment when the Koreans became involved in intensive agriculture in the region. However, now that the rights for stage 2 of the Ord River irrigation area have been won by the Chinese, one is seeing a strong and welcome Chinese presence in this far-flung town where, once again, SHEV holders will be most welcome. There is plenty of work to be done both on the existing farms and on the new agricultural expansion, which will grow sugar cane. It is a community that boasts many ethnic groups and all that comes with such diversity: food, customs, colour, skills, knowledge and culture.

The SHEV will be open to applicants who have been processed under the legacy case load and are found to engage Australia's protection obligations. Those granted a SHEV will work in designated regions, identified through a national self-nomination process. A state or territory government, local government or employer can request to be designated. The visa will be valid for five years, and like the temporary protection visa will not include family reunion or a right to re-enter Australia. SHEV holders will be targeted to designated regions and encouraged to fill existing regional job vacancies. It is an option to the temporary protection visa, but there is no compulsion.

The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 amends a number of acts and regulations in support of the government's strategies to combat people smuggling and to manage asylum seekers both onshore and offshore. It will help to resolve the appalling immigration status of the illegal maritime arrivals legacy case load of 30,000 people who arrived under the former Labor government.

This bill restores border protection and immigration measures to stop the boats. The introduction of this new SHEV will encourage people to work and/or study in regional Australia, which I welcome wholeheartedly. This may address some of the shortage of skilled people and labour by providing illegal maritime arrivals with the opportunity to contribute to the economic and social development of regional Australia in a humanitarian and sensitive manner. This in turn will support small business and contribute to growth. I commend this bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.

 



Related Articles

Legislation, Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2014  I am pleased to rise to speak on this bill, the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Psychoactive Substances and Other Measures) Bill 2014, and about...
Bill, Omnibus Repeal Day, (Spring), 2014  I am very pleased to rise today to speak on this bill, which I and I think many others in this House today believe is important to constituent...
Latest Photos

Cue Parliament
Irwin Charity Ball
Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor
Blues for the Bush 2016
Exercise Northern Shield 2016
AEC officially declaring I was re-elected
Being sworn in at the start of the 45th Parliament
Speaking with Main Roads about the many road upgrades the Federal Government is funding throughout D
At the 2016 Dowerin Field Days
Catch up on Facebook
Catch up on Facebook

Authorised by M. Price MP 2B/209 Foreshore Drive, Geraldton WA 6530 | Login