With a plethora of legislation passing through parliament before the winter break, The Echo asked Labor’s federal MP for Richmond, Justine Elliot, how she voted – or intends to vote – on some of the more contentious bills.
Ms Elliot began by saying, ‘In terms of all the issues you’ve raised I fully support Labor’s position on all of them.’
‘The purpose of the Migration Amendment (Regional Processing Arrangements) Bill 2015 is to ensure the Australian government has clear legislative authority for expenditure to support regional processing and to provide assistance to the governments of Nauru and PNG in the implementation of offshore processing.’
After the former Labor government implemented the 2013 Regional Resettlement Arrangement with Papua New Guinea, Ms Elliot says, ‘we [saw] an end to the tragic loss of life at sea and this is unquestionably a good thing.’
The member for Richmond also believes that the new bill does ‘not in any way, change or expand Australia’s existing regional processing and resettlement arrangements.’
But according to the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), ‘the last-minute Bill seeking to head-off court action challenging the federal government’s power to fund offshore detention facilities is unconscionable.’
ALA spokesperson Greg Barns says the retrospective nature of the bill was abominable, given it has been ‘demonstrated that there is under-reporting of sexual abuse of children.’
But Ms Elliot gave assurances that Labor’s support for this legislation ‘does not mean we support, or in any way condone, the Abbott government’s treatment of asylum seekers in the processing centres in Nauru and PNG.’
‘Labor will continue to hold the Abbott government to account for its heavy-handed treatment of asylum seekers, particularly given its woeful track record when it comes to transparency over its policies. We will continue to advocate for asylum seekers to be treated in a dignified, humane manner and housed in a safe environment with access to health, education and social services.’
‘There is nothing more important than keeping Australians safe,’ Ms Elliot said in reference to proposed amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
‘That’s why Labor has consistently taken a constructive, bipartisan approach to matters of national security.
‘The plans have gained much media attention owing to the laws stripping citizenship rights from dual nationals involved in terrorism at home or abroad. But the proposal has also gained criticism with the inclusion of revoking citizenship of dual nationals that damage government property.
‘In terms of citizenship, Labor has been clear [that] any dual citizen taking arms against Australia should be stripped of their citizenship.
‘Now this legislation has finally been introduced into the parliament, Labor will work through the legislation in a bipartisan, constructive manner. This legislation has also been referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to be examined.
‘[After] Labor consulted extensively with Australian artists, musicians, filmmakers and others involved in our creative industries, as well as with consumer groups, Labor believes that action is needed to reduce current levels of online piracy in Australia.
‘The enforcement of copyright law is vital to our creative industries. Online piracy damages our economy and destroys Australian jobs.’
Mrs Elliot says the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 plays a part in addressing the problem of online piracy, ‘but includes safeguards to ensure the new measures will not have unintended consequences for legitimate internet activities.’
‘The Bill allows the federal court to require Australian ISPs to block a website hosted overseas if the court is satisfied that the website’s primary purpose is to infringe copyright or facilitate the infringement of copyright.
‘The Bill does not provide for any sort of internet “filter”.
‘Labor closely scrutinised, the provisions of the Bill in the senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to ensure the Bill would not restrict legitimate internet activities.
‘Labor does not support the use of site-blocking against Virtual Private Network (VPN) services and we have made sure that this Bill does not allow for VPNs to be blocked. We are satisfied that VPNs, which have a range of legitimate uses, would not meet the ‘primary purpose’ test required by the Bill.
‘However, to avoid any doubt, we have asked the government to revise the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum to make this clear.’