But this system is broken, it is the most expensive partner visa in the world. It is one of the slowest now on average. And I believe that what the government is doing is actually illegal.
They are breaching the actual laws in the migration act, section 87, in the act very clear, says the minister does not have the power to cap the number of partner or child visas that back under the Hawke government then the Howard government, the ministers of the day tried to get that power removed. That's a clue, isn't it? That it's actually an effective provision - you'd think!
The government has legal advice, I'm sure they have legal advice, telling them that what they're doing is illegal. They do not have the power to cap the number of visas twice, when governments before tried to get rid of that rule, the Senate rejected it. And so the government has no power to do what they're doing. But still they do it.
And I know there's a number of people exploring potential legal cases to push them harder. And that's an important thing. But as Amelia said, Love is not tourism. It's a great slogan, isn't it? Because it talks to everyday Australians, and makes them stop and think this is quintessentially part of our modern Australian landscape.
You know, who knew young people they travel the world, they meet people, they fall in love. People of all ages, might want to marry someone build a life with someone here and you shouldn't have that right. It should be seen as a right within reason. You know, people check up as the government says health and character and security checks, pay a bit of a fee, wait a little while a reasonable time, you should have that right to bring someone here and build a life.
We know from all the evidence that there's some of the most successful migration settlement outcomes when you bring someone you love, they've got somewhere to live, they've got a family network, they get into employment more quickly, they contribute to the Australian community more quickly.
Now, I do, I do think amongst all the doom and gloom and a sense of despair that so many people feel and I helped dozens of people now every week in my office with these cases, but I do think it's important to acknowledge we have had, in this battle, a couple of really big wins in the last 12 months, we did force the government embarrass the government, frankly, into jacking up the number of places and even with their illegal cap, they said they would issue. I'm not convinced that they're going to get to that 72,000, the last numbers we looked at, they were way behind. And so I do hope that through the parliamentary processes, the questions that Labour's already got, they're on notice the contributions of senators for all parties that they'll make through the committee and the inquiry that we can actually push the government to make their own target, illegal target as it is at least meet that target. But there is a lot more to do.
We know there's 10s of 1000s of Australians still separated from their partners and their loved ones are many of those people are actually married, you know, I know with the focus and I'll talk about 300 visas in a moment. But I know with the focus, people don't actually a lot of Australians don't even understand that. But this is not just someone you met at a bar, you know, before the pandemic came and you thought you might get them a partner visa. These are people who have actually committed to their relationship in law, and they're actually married and they're still waiting years to get a visa. And there are 1000s of people, though the lucky ones can get a visa to come here, but there are 1000s of people still separated.
Now, one of the things that makes me maddest about this is actually the provisions that the government put in their own budget last year. We're waiting to see what's in this budget coming up next week. Because through that provision, yes, they increased the number they'd issue, but they do and that's a good thing. They actually entrenched discrimination.
Now I challenged then Minister Tudge in the Federation Chamber, a little known pass of the house, part of the House of Representatives. So usually where good speeches go to die. We do get a little bit loose sometimes in the Federation Chamber. And basically, I lost it at Alan Tudge, because I said, 'Well, you know, this is discrimination'. And he said, 'No, it's not we wouldn't discriminate against anyone'. I said, we'll look at the lived experience and I see people nodding look at the lived experience of people. It says in the budget papers that if you fall In love with someone from overseas and you live in a city in Australia, that somehow Your love is worth less than someone who lives in a regional or rural area. I mean, that's discrimination.
The government should be processing these visas, basically in order that they're received. And of course, they'll always be some complexities not being silly about it. Of course, some visas will take longer, of course, there'll be workload issues, I get that. But there should be a basic presumption that Australians wherever they live, whoever they are, are treated fairly, according to the law.
But the other the really nasty insidious bit of discrimination, which I actually don't think some of the government members get this, I've tried to explain it. And it's like talking to a brick wall, I just don't think they've spent time listening to people to understand it. But the nastiest bit of discrimination is that if you fall in love with someone from a nice country, that the Immigration Department thinks, well, they're okay, and you can get a visitor visa, then you can be with your loved one here, admittedly, still for years, but you can have them in the country with you, maybe trying to start a family, settling into the community, maybe learning English, all of those things, which are part of the settlement experience, you can have them here with you. But if you fall in love with someone from most of Africa, or the Middle East, or a lot of South Asia, parts of India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, those parts of the world, then good luck to you, you are going to be waiting years you will not get a visitor visa to come to the country and wait here, that is discrimination. And it should be called out as such.
The other the other group of people, and I see some signs here. And, you know, like many of us done what we can to help individual cases as people applying the 300 partner visas. This covers a multitude of kind of relationships. And I really, really get angry when the government dredges up the stereotype of so called arranged marriages or mail-order Brides, one of the government members said to me, but isn't that just for mail-order brides that is offensive. I've also come to know through friends and people in my electorate, that in some parts of the world, there is a culture of arranged marriages that in many religious communities, it's not appropriate to live for 12 months with your fiance before you get married. That's a legitimate part of people's culture, to say, actually, we don't want to live together. So how do we prove to Home Affairs that our relationship is genuine. But those Travel Authorization criteria, when you strip it back, what they're saying is, if you've lived together for one year, and one day, no matter how old you are, one year in one day, that's okay, your relationship is genuine, you can get a Travel Authorization. But if you've been a couple for 10 years committed, living together, maybe six months here, six months there might have children in each country, former families might have global jobs, professional responsibilities, people studying PhDs, family carrying all of those real life scenarios, you fail the test your relationships, not real. That is not fair.
There's inherent discrimination and arbitrary nonsense in the Travel Authorization criteria. And it is way past time, we're one year into this pandemic. And frankly, friends, it's not going away soon, we're not going to suddenly see the world returned to normal next week or next month. This is the reality we're going to have to live with this Australians for, I think, many years to come. And the government needs to actually front up to the fact that they can't just treat people like this and treat Australians like this. They need to fix the problem. Fix the inequities inherent in the travel authorizations, and actually provide a roadmap of hope for people.
I know from talking to Amelia and so many people that hope is the most important thing. Because there are human beings at the heart of this all of us have talked about rules and laws and statistics, systems, I get that that's important. That's the world I live in to try and create change. But there are actual 1000s of Australians with their own individual stories, their hopes, their dreams, some of the ones I've found saddest, are trying to help couples whose biological clock is ticking.
The fact is not everyone finds love in Australia. Not everyone finds love in the office, as I said to some former ministers who knew not everyone finds love just around the corner, and good luck to those people who do. But if you don't, and you might be in your late 30s if you're a woman in your late 30s or early 40s, or as one woman explained to me I know from my own family that this polycystic ovary syndrome early 30s suddenly is when it matters. You know, these are real human stories. You shouldn't have to actually beg the Immigration Department to let you have your last possible chance in this life at love and having children.
And some of the saddest stories is people who are trying to pay their mortgages living between two countries never met their kids. I've helped lovely, lovely couples. Imagine that, imagine if Scott Morrison and the ministers actually took the time to sit down and listen to these stories, maybe we get some change, but they won't actually talk to people. They send standard emails back. And that's it. Now, there's people who've never met their own children except on a WhatsApp call because they can't get the travel authorization, we're a better country than this. And we should do better than this.
As I said, the system is broken, it was broken before COVID. There's a whole bunch of stuff because of COVID. That's made it worse that we need to front up and deal with. But fundamentally, we need to rip this broken system to pieces and put it back together. So it actually works in a fair way that meets community expectations that you can fall in love with people and bring him here in a reasonable time.
The Liberal government is not on the side of people fighting this fight. You know that from the responses you get, you know that from the deafening silence that you get, we also found out they're not on the side of Australian citizens if they happen to be of Indian heritage who are stuck in India. 9000 people I met with the Indian community yesterday, I mean, this is disgraceful reports of school kids in Australia who said "I always thought I was Australian" saying to their parents, but does that mean I'm not Australian? Am I Australian Indian, we're having this discussion with people yesterday. Look, the final thing I do want to sign it's a bit of a broader point, because I get the immediate frustration and I get the immediate call to just open the borders and let everyone in. It's on quarantine.
You know, if you're a horse, or a dog, and you come into this country, you get sent to a federal quarantine facility, you get sent to a federal quarantine facility if you're a horse or a dog. But if you're a human being who comes into this country, it's not the federal government's responsibility.
Apparently it's the state government. If you look in the Constitution, quarantine is a federal responsibility. always has been, has been through every previous infectious disease. Back in the Spanish flu, it's always been a federal responsibility, except when Scott Morrison's the Prime Minister, because it doesn't suit his political purposes. Unbelievably, he decided the vaccine was a federal responsibility getting it out till he figured out actually, he should have been working with the states because that's what they're good at. So he's kind of got an a bit ass about really, he's got rid of quarantine, which should be his job. And he's tried to do vaccines and stuff that up. But this is a really important point.
I dont believe that we're going to see normal travel resume for the next few years. A vaccine is not a cure, we have to get the population vaccinated to stop disease, stop new mutations, no question. But a vaccine is not a cure. We saw yesterday, six people in quarantine who've been fully vaccinated, who were found to have COVID. And if we just let people come and go, because we think they're fully vaccinated, we're going to see COVID rip through the community again. Now, I frankly believe that it's way past time that we actually spoke the truth. And Australians don't want COVID we want zero deaths and zero COVID in the community, we don't want these mutations. And we need to organize our national policy around that for the next few years.
I've been saying that word elimination, which Gladys and the Prime Minister are scared of, because the big business lobby keep telling them they're not allowed to say it. The Australian people have been really clear on this. And the premiers have figured it out. The only reason that we haven't had COVID rip through is because the state premiers embarrassed Morrison into actually doing the right thing and managing the borders. Finally, at the last possible moment, he was about to go the UK route, and he got dragged back embarrassed into doing the right thing.
But what that means, in practical terms for everyone here, who's waiting for their partner, is we have to pressure the federal government to take national responsibility for quarantine. And to scale it up. He's had a report on his desk since last October that he commissioned saying national quarantine facilities.
Only the federal government has the power, the resources and the ability to set national standards, we still don't even have a set of national standards for quarantine, because it suits this bloke to blame the states when anything goes wrong. Well, it's not leadership. And it's not good enough. And I just made that point. Because it's really important, as well as fighting for the changes in the visa policies which we will do and shining light on the system. Until we get this mob to take national responsibility for quarantine, we're not going to get the result we want. And the popular opinion of many Australians will not be on our side. And I get that, because it comes from the same place that we all come from.
We don't want COVID in this country. And we cannot turn this into a debate about non citizens and citizens we have to find a way to live without COVID and to allow people to come and go from our country safely. That's the world we're going to be in. But it's about time we had a government that started talking honestly with people and focusing on the future instead of tomorrow's media announcement and a stupid selfie.
So I thank you so much. I congratulate you and everyone around the country who's actually standing up and For the 1000s of people I know who will be watching online. We do stand with you and I know Kristina Keneally is committed to seeing change in this system. We'll have more to say about that before the next election. Thank you so much.