Teal MPs slam ‘perversion of democracy’ on immigration laws

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Independent MPs are furious at a Labor plan to rush laws through federal parliament on Wednesday to deal with the High Court decision on indefinite detention when most expected to vote on the changes on Thursday, the last sitting day for the year.

Employment Minister Tony Burke said the government wants to bring the preventative detention laws to the House of Representatives on Wednesday night after a day of speeches in honour of Labor MP Peta Murphy, who died earlier this week.

Independent MP Zoe Daniel and Kylea Tink are furious at a Labor plan to rush laws through federal parliament on Wednesday to deal with the High Court decision on indefinite detention.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Burke, the senior minister responsible for the management of the house, also wants to pass new citizenship laws tonight.

But the late change in arrangements means some MPs will not be able to get back to Canberra in time.

The independent MP for North Sydney, Kylea Tink, is angry at the short notice and the rush with the law.

“Every Australian should be concerned about the laws that we’ve just been advised will be pushed through the house tonight on a non-sitting day,” she said.

“This is not democracy in action. This is what regimes do to communities when they are seeking to have complete control. They pass laws in the dead of night without their citizenship knowing about it.”

The House of Representatives was not scheduled to sit on Wednesday. This changed on Monday when the government chose to hold a day to speak on the condolence motion for Murphy, with most expecting the detention and citizenship bills to be debated on Thursday.

The advice on timing changed on Wednesday morning.

The government plan is to hear from about 70 speakers in the condolence motion and then take a short break late in the afternoon before resuming for the debate on the detention laws at 6.30pm. The government appears to want them passed by 9pm.

‘If these laws are introduced back into the house today to be voted on, it will be a complete perversion of our democracy.’

“If these laws are introduced back into the house today to be voted on, it will be a complete perversion of our democracy and Australians have to stand up and demand that our proper democratic processes are respected and carried through,” said Tink, who had scheduled a day of meetings with her constituents on Wednesday.

Independent MP Zoe Daniel, who represents Goldstein in Melbourne, is in Canberra but unimpressed with the sudden change.

“The government needs to stop giving into the opposition’s default position of the politics of fear and make careful law on matters which have profound and important consequences for community safety, but also human rights and the nature of Australian citizenship,” Daniel said.

“To force the house to vote on legislation with no warning, no debate, in the dead of night is the tail wagging the dog and is absolutely not the politics done differently that this government promised.”

Andrew Wilkie from Clark in Tasmania and Kate Chaney from Curtin in Perth may not be able to take part in the vote.

The independent member for Mayo in South Australia, Rebekha Sharkie, said she was told on Tuesday the vote on the detention law would be held on Thursday.

“For me this whole process has been clumsy,” she said.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has defended the government’s changes to immigration laws.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“Assurances were given yesterday afternoon the earliest debate for the migration bill would be tomorrow. This makes a mockery of the parliament really and disrespectful of members who do not live close by.”

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek told ABC’s RN Breakfast on Wednesday morning the stronger laws needed to pass through the lower house in order to protect the community.

“I can say to the community that community safety is our government’s first priority, and that’s why we’ve got the Border Force and AFP [Australian Federal Police] operation, that’s why we put a quarter of a billion dollars into these agencies to make sure that they’ve got the tools they need to keep Australians safe,” Plibersek said.

Coalition frontbencher Simon Birmingham denied the opposition was trying to create fear in the community to score political points from the government.

“We have had these terrible incidents take place, and is why the government has been negligent at every step [of this],” he said.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said the government was creating a two-tiered legal system.

“In Australia, we have a system if you commit a crime, you serve your sentence. After that, if you do anything else wrong, you can get arrested and taken before the court,” Bandt said on ABC television on Wednesday morning.

“What the government and the Liberals are proposing is to go further and start talking about legislation that says if you might commit a crime in the future, can you get locked up.

“That’s treating people born in another country in a different way to the way we run the legal system here in Australia. And that’s why legal experts have raised real concerns about this.”

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