House debates

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Statements by Members

Asylum Seekers

1:36 pm

Photo of Ged KearneyGed Kearney (Cooper, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing) Share this | Hansard source

The media is buzzing today about national security. Remarkably, the ASIO director last night criticised those opposite for weaponising national security. which he said was not helpful. But let me tell you one thing the media is not saying and nor can those opposite. No-one can say the men held in detention in the Park Hotel are a security threat. The 28 refugees and asylum seekers being detained are not a risk to anyone. This was confirmed a few days ago in Senate estimate hearings. These men have gone through so much already, and those opposite seem to forget that seeking asylum is not a crime.

If there are no character or national security concerns then these men should be living in the community. If Labor were elected we would ensure that happens quickly. Not only is this the more-humane way to treat people; it is also the most financially sensible approach. A few days ago Senate estimates heard that taxpayers are spending more than $56,000 per night to detain these people. We could redirect $19 million to address issues like aged care if the men were in the community while waiting for the outcome of their applications. The men held there have for years complained of appalling conditions like mouldy food, maggots, medical neglect and a lack of hygiene . Tragically this only made headlines when Novak Djokovic was in the hotel for a few nights. There is not one notable security threat that the Australian people should be aware of. (Time expired)


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