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Politics with Michelle Grattan: James Paterson on prospects for passage of the government’s deportation bill

Politics with Michelle Grattan: James Paterson on prospects for passage of the government’s deportation bill

Next week the government will again next try to get its legislation through to deal with non-citizens who won’t cooperate with efforts to deport them.

The bill, which the opposition and crossbench refused to rush through in the last parliamentary sitting, went to a Senate inquiry that reported this week. In dissenting comments, the Coalition urged a number of amendments.

On Friday the High Court brings down a crucial judgement in a case involving a detainee who is refusing to cooperate.

To discuss the Coalition’s position on the bill, as well as the issue of handling the former detainees who were released last year, we’re joined by Senator James Paterson, who is Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security.

On the opposition’s objections to the current bill, Paterson says:

We’ve really got two major concerns. The first is the potential for unintended consequences and the Department of Home Affairs themselves. Acknowledge this. They said that elements of the bill could encourage people smugglers to tempt people back onto boats again.

The second major concern we have is that these are extraordinary powers to vest in the hands of a single minister, the Minister for Immigration [with] very little oversight, very little restrictions, very little limitations on the Minister’s exercise of that power. And we think the normal checks and balances should be reinserted.

On whether the Coalition is likely to strike a deal, Paterson keeps the door open:

We’ll consider the government’s response in totality when they provide it. And we will then go through our processes, including our shadow cabinet and party room, to finalise our position.

On Friday’s High Court judgement, Paterson believes the government will win the case but says if it does not, parliament should be ready to respond quickly:

We will have to deal with that as a parliament if we come to that and we should use any constitutional and any lawful means to protect the community. I really hope that the court would not go down that path and would not take away one of the legs of community protection.

Finally, speaking on the recent incident in the Yellow Sea between an Australian Helicopter and a Chinese Fighter Aircraft, Paterson says:

This is becoming a really clear pattern of behaviour […] by the Chinese Communist Party to attempt to intimidate us and coerce us and drive us out of not just their territorial waters or their exclusive economic zone, but international waters where we have a legitimate purpose.

So it’s very important that we robustly respond to stand up for ourselves and for our service personnel and we think the Prime Minister should do that.

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