Cost of living and the Government’s response to the High Court’s detention decision | Take Note of Answers Take Note of Answers

I too rise to take note of answers, in this case from Minister Wong, to questions from coalition senators. I’ll take the point that has just been made, that Senator Wong did refer to the cost of living. That does surprise me somewhat, because despite all of the promises by the Albanese government ahead of the last election, none have delivered the benefits that the Australian people were led to believe.

CPI data just from this past week shows that food is up by 8.2 per cent; housing costs are by 10.4 per cent; insurance by 17.3 per cent; nationally, electricity is up by 18.2 per cent, but AGL and Origin—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Bilyk, a point of order?

Senator Bilyk: I’m sure I didn’t hear any questions from the opposition today in regard to the cost of living. Am I correct? There was one in relation to inflation and wages, I think. Senator Wong did mention it.

Senator FAWCETT: On the point of order—this is not in my response time—I’m taking note of answers to questions. In Senator Wong’s answer, she queried why we weren’t raising the cost of living. So I—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: You are in order, Senator Fawcett.

Senator FAWCETT: Always people are speaking without thinking through the facts. The facts, as confirmed by Origin and AGL, are that in my home state of South Australia, far from seeing bills go down by $275, which was promised time and time again by now Prime Minister Albanese ahead of the election, prices have gone up by 24.2 per cent, which is an increase of some $405. That is due to the ideological approach taken by this government, which is highlighted by the OECD and the International Energy Agency that a pursuit of an energy system reliant on variable renewables will, over time, as we seek to constrain emissions, drive prices up. That’s not a coalition position. It’s the position of economic and engineering experts globally, and they base that on the lived experience of the OECD.

I would like to come to the substantive matter that we had talked about, which is Labor’s response to the High Court decision. I take the comment that the government is obliged to follow the direction of the court, but the question is how quickly and how effectively the government responds. The questions today were around the confusion in government messaging as to what they were or were not doing.

I come to comments made in this chamber about human rights of continuing detention.

My view, and I think the view of many in Australia, is that when someone has shown they are a repeat offender or, in the case of they have not recanted from an ideological position, in the case of terrorism, then they are a continuing risk to the Australian population.

We actually have an obligation to the human right of Australians to be safe.

I notice in the case of one of the people who has been released that one of the victims, Sonya—I’m not sure if that’s her true name—was reported in the media as saying there is too much emphasis on the victimhood of the perpetrators who are held in immigration detention indefinitely rather than on the victims themselves, people who have lifelong damage from the criminal conduct. She was talking about an individual who was sentenced to seven years and six months after pleading guilty to two counts of rape and one of sexual assault. In her victim impact statements, she says the crime was heinous and life altering and has caused anxiety, nightmares and a feeling of anger and disgust that will stay with her for the rest of her life.

We have an obligation to protect the human rights of people like Sonya, not just to look at the ideological or the purist argument about the offender.

This is not an ongoing punishment. In fact, I go to the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security in 2016, which I was a member of, where we looked at the very issue of continuing detention orders. It said in that report that a CDO is not intended to repunish past behaviour but rather to protect the community from an unacceptable risk of future harm that may be caused by an unreformed convicted terrorist being released at the end of their prison sentence.

Not only do we have this issue with people released from immigration detention; we have the issue now that the government is face of Mr Benbrika, a convicted terrorist, who had his citizenship rescinded by Mr Dutton, when he was in the appropriate ministerial portfolio, on the basis of legislation. That has also been overturned by the High Court, and this government has an obligation to instigate measures rapidly both to ensure a continuing CDO and to reform the legislation so that people who have acted contrary to the interests of Australia can be deported.