Multi-Party Reference Group
FRI 06 JULY 2012
Prime Minister, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Minister for Home Affairs
The Government today announced the membership of the Multi-Party Reference Group which will support the work of the independent expert panel in examining ways to stop people risking their lives on dangerous journeys by boat.
The Reference Group will provide an important mechanism through which the independent expert panel can canvass the views of the Parliament in conducting its work.
The Government sent letters to the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Greens, and all crossbenchers, inviting them to participate in the Group. The Opposition were offered three spots – the same number as the Government – while the independents and Greens were offered two places each.
The Government has received responses from all groups except the Opposition. As a result, the membership of the Multi-Party Reference Group will be:
- Mr Wayne Swan MP
- Mr Chris Bowen MP
- Mr Stephen Jones MP
- Senator Christine Milne
- Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
- Senator John Madigan
- Mr Tony Windsor MP
The Government remains willing to accept Mr Abbott’s nominations.
If Mr Abbott chooses not to participate, we are willing to accept nominations from Opposition members, given the clear importance that many parliamentarians across all sides of politics attach to resolving this issue.
The task of the expert panel is to address asylum seeker and refugee issues, including the need to prevent people from risking their lives on dangerous boat journeys at sea. The expert panel will be led by former Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Houston, and will include Mr Paris Aristotle and Mr Michael L’Estrange.
The independent expert panel will examine all of the policy options available to respond to this complex challenge, including those canvassed in the Parliament. It will have access to all materials available to the Government and will be able to take any steps it believes necessary to ensure that its findings are based on all available information.