Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2495 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
not know whether it has the support of the majority of people in the community although, as I said earlier, there is nothing in the motion to indicate that the ACT is not friendly towards refugees. It is not terribly important whether the majority of people in the community support this motion; the fact remains that people welcome refugees to the ACT.
Even if we pass this motion, there is no law that provides that it must be enforced. We can do nothing other than express our views. However, that will not influence federal government policy, even though this is a federal matter. The federal government has in place its own policies and processes for dealing with refugees. This motion will hardly change federal government policies. Even if the Assembly passes this innocuous motion I do not believe that anything will change. Refugees will always be welcome in the ACT. I think this motion is stating the obvious. Nevertheless, as Mr Smyth said earlier, the opposition supports the motion.
MR PRATT(4.25): I support the sensible motion moved earlier by Mr Berry. However, I do not know whether the community needs to change the way in which it has been dealing with refugees in the ACT. I think the community does a terrific job. Nevertheless, we should put these things on the record to remind us of the need to take care of them. There are about 10 million to 15 million refugees, but millions of internally displaced people do not qualify as refugees.
Over the past decade massive and dramatic movements of people have occurred as a result of geopolitical changes since the end of the Cold War. That is what has caused these sorts of movements and concentrations of people. A major driver of this phenomenon has been the many local wars that have erupted since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Amongst these many refugees are millions of economic Ã©migrÃ©s-people with whom we must sympathise who live in difficult places but who do not qualify as refugees.
Men have always been on the move to try to find better places in which to settle down. We cannot do much about that fact of life, but we know that the developed world simply does not have the capacity to take 10 or 15 million refugees and millions of internally displaced people and economic Ã©migrÃ©s. Governments have to be able to control migrant intakes.
I refer to a point that was made earlier by a member on the crossbenches. At one time refugees and other people arrived on our shores without being checked. I do not know whether or not that is true. I do not believe that to have ever been the case. I do not believe that there has ever been a time in our history-except perhaps before colonial history-when that was allowed.
Australia is no different from any other country: it has always had some sort of system in place. It wants to be able to exercise control over its borders. I say to some members-but not to Mr Berry who moved this sensible motion-that they are playing the emotional card. They want to have a crack at the federal government.
That approach is wearing thin. When people use debates such as this as a means of attacking the federal government they should remember that they are also attacking the majority of Australians who support the policies of the federal government. The