House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Statements by Members

Asylum Seekers

1:42 pm

Photo of Tony ZappiaTony Zappia (Makin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Manufacturing) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week's decision by the High Court about offshore detention of refugees, in a clear 6-1 decision, highlights that the role of courts is to interpret law and that it is up to governments and the parliament to ensure that laws are fair and just. Detention conditions on Nauru and Manus Island have now been widely criticised by independent investigations, medical staff and other contracted services providers who are familiar with the centres. The government cannot ignore the criticisms.

The children being detained are innocent victims in the matter. They had no say in fleeing their homeland, in coming into this world or in paying people smugglers. They are in a situation not of their making or their choosing. They are, however, being kept in conditions that no member of this place would want for their own children. Stopping the boats is one matter. The detention of refugees and children for long periods is another. Detention times have now blown out to 445 days. The High Court judgement has brought a focus to this very important issue. The fate of those children and their families now rests with the federal government. They have spent too long in detention, and their refugee applications should be immediately assessed.