House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Statements by Members

Asylum Seekers

1:42 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Mehdi Ali was 15 years old when he was put in detention. Now he is 24. He came to Australia seeking a better life and he committed no crime. But he spent his 16th birthday, his 18th birthday and his 21st birthday behind bars. People like Mehdi are still being locked up until they break. Children are becoming adults in a cage, all because the Liberals and Labor have a cruel policy of mandatory offshore detention. What kind of country is this, where Mehdi, just one of the 68 detained refugees transferred from Nauru and PNG for medical treatment, is still held in detention after nine years, and where, in compassionate Carlton, at the Park Hotel in my electorate, 28 people are still locked up and caged?

In Senate estimates this week the Australian security agencies, including ASIO, said they had no concerns about those 28 refugees. The only reason these refugees are still being detained is cruelty—cruelty that is used by the government to play politics before an election and to enforce the mandatory offshore detention regime put in place by Labor and continued by the Liberal Party. And there are still over 200 people being held offshore, including Afghan refugees whose families were evacuated to Australia but who the government will not allow to join their loved ones here. As we head towards another election where refugees and asylum seekers will be used as political footballs, please don't forget Mehdi and everyone else locked up. The Greens will keep fighting to close the camps, free the refugees and make Australia the compassionate country we should be.