Committees: Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee - Reference

31 July 2019

Senator McKim: Before asking that this motion be taken as formal, I wish to inform the chamber that Senators Patrick and Lambie will also sponsor this motion. I, and also on behalf of Senators Patrick and Lambie, move:

That the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by the third sitting day of October 2019:

Allegations regarding visa applications and other immigration matters, with particular reference to the following:

(a) allegations that current members of Parliament, including ministers, pressured senior officers in the Department of Home Affairs to make it easier for certain people, including high-roller clients of Crown Resorts, to pass customs;

(b) allegations that visa applications for certain people were fast-tracked by the Department of Home Affairs or the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection;

(c) any agreements between the Department of Home Affairs and Crown Resorts to fast-track visas for wealthy clients of Crown Resorts;

(d) the operation and effectiveness of Commonwealth legislation, administrative arrangements and law enforcement strategies in identifying, detecting, and disrupting any activity that weakens the functions and integrity of the Department of Home Affairs;

(e) Crown Resorts' alleged links to organised crime, money laundering, improper activity by consular officials, tampering with poker machines, and domestic violence and drug trafficking on Crown Resorts' property;

(f) the relationship between Crown Resorts and governments, including the role of former members of state and federal parliaments and the influence of political donations;

(g) the need for any legislative or administrative reform; and

(h) any related matters.

Senator Duniam (TasmaniaAssistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries and Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Duniam: On 30 July 2019, the Attorney-General referred this matter to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, ACLEI. ACLEI is a more appropriate body than a Senate committee to consider these allegations as its investigatory powers and resources are considerably higher than those of a parliamentary committee. It would be detrimental to have parallel ACLEI and parliamentary inquiries running at the same time as it is likely that significant legal issues and risks could arise for any witnesses called before both hearings.

Senator Gallagher (Shadow Minister for Finance, Shadow Minister for the Public Service and Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Gallagher: Labor will not be supporting this motion. Yesterday Labor supported the government's decision to refer the serious allegations surrounding Crown Casino that are the subject of this motion to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. We believe this body, which has the powers of a royal commission, is the appropriate body to investigate these allegations. Labor—

Senator Di Natale interjecting

Senator Gallagher: if you'd listen, Senator Di Natale—is prepared to consider further action if required, especially in regard to any allegations that fall outside the jurisdiction of the Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

Senator Roberts: I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator Roberts: This is just an old story, and the media are trying to get some traction and make some money off it. Gamblers can come in, clearing hurdles along the way that are legally imposed, and the Greens complain. Yet refugees can come in here with various criminal records, and can enter based on a doctor's advice. This is ridiculous.

Senator Patrick: Centre Alliance will be supporting this motion. I'd just draw people's attention to the fact that there have been allegations made in relation to ministers and members of parliament, and the jurisdiction of the act under which ACLEI conduct their investigations does not allow them to investigate those sorts of issues. So, in voting against this motion—again, it's a statement of fact that there are allegations—you are effectively removing the opportunity to investigate these serious allegations.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that business of the Senate motion No. 3 be agreed to.