House debates

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Questions without Notice

Asylum Seekers

2:19 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Minister, in Senate estimates, the Department of Home Affairs confirmed that there were no security concerns for the asylum seekers currently detained in the Park Hotel. Why, then, is the government continuing to detain these people?

2:20 pm

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for her question and her very genuine interest in these matters. What I can say is that we have had to deal with the legacy of the Labor government, which has resulted in 50,000 people arriving in over 800 boats and 1,200 people tragically dying at sea. It has taken us a considerable amount of time to deal with that legacy—and we are continuing to deal with it— because that is a lot of people that were in held detention; 10,000, in fact, were in held detention as the legacy of Labor.

What we have committed to as a government is to work to make sure that as many of those people are resettled as we can possibly manage in the shortest possible amount of time. We are working with the United States on the resettlement program so that as many people can transfer to the United States and be resettled as soon as possible. It's on the public record now that we are working with New Zealand to look at resettlement options so that as many people as possible can resettle as soon as there is an arrangement that is in place.

I thank the New Zealand government for the high level of cooperation that they have given. There are people who are in detention now who cannot be released into community detention for a number of reasons. Some of those are because of character grounds, some of those are because of quite considerable health issues related to those individuals. But what I can assure the member is that we are working to have those people resettled as soon as we possibly can, and we will continue to do that.