Immigration detention question to the PM

Ms DANIEL (Goldstein): My question is to the Prime Minister. I and others on the crossbench have called for a royal commission into offshore processing. Now we learn that the Department of Home Affairs continued to award contracts involving millions of taxpayers’ money despite being warned by the AFP that the businessman involved was under investigation for bribery. He was subsequently charged and convicted. Will the Prime Minister refer this matter to the NACC and/or institute a royal commission or some other form of broader independent inquiry into offshore processing?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Prime Minister): I thank the member for her question. I say this not about the specific but the general. We need to avoid the idea that every politician will say to every issue, ‘Refer to the NACC.’ It’s easy. The NACC will operate independently and at arm’s length. I have said consistently, but I say to members in this House as well, they need to avoid this temptation to say, ‘Oh, I’ll refer it to the NACC,’ over every issue that is raised.

These are serious issues and allegations that have been raised. We are acting quickly and decisively. It is appropriate that an independent, eminent reviewer have a look at what has occurred, that departmental officials be obligated to cooperate if instructed to do so and that the ministers and the people at the time, including the Leader of the Opposition, cooperate with an inquiry. Today we have announced that we will appoint Mr Dennis Richardson AC, a former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defence and Director-General of Security, someone who is one of Australia’s pre-eminent public servants, to have a full look and a thorough examination of this.

The review will consider governance practices and these allegations in the wider context of serious issues that have emerged over this time. In particular, it will consider any integrity concerns about contracting arrangements regarding regional processing, whether public or otherwise, as well as the department’s governance arrangements, not just to look at what’s happened in the past but to make sure that appropriate mechanisms are put in place in the future. I ask the Minister for Home Affairs to add to the answer.

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