Senate debates

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Bills

Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2012; In Committee

8:20 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

The only reason for these protections—these conditions which the Houston report has said must be in place—not to be included in this legislation is so that the government does not have to do it. There is no other reason. Let's not beat around the bush. The whole purpose is so that the government does not have to do it. There is no legal reason to do it, there is no reason politically to do it. There is no reason to do it which might open them up to scrutiny, to legal challenge and there is this furphy that they will be included when the minister designates a country to dump people in. We know that they do not even have to exist. The only reason that these conditions are not being included in this legislation is because the government does not want to have to do them. That is the reason. Just like removing the minister's guardianship of children is because, in the minister's own words:

It is unsustainable for the government to act in the best interests of the child.

Imagine if a parent was to say, 'It is unsustainable for me to act in the best interests of my child.' That would be considered child abuse. Under this very bill the indefinite detention of children, as the Australian Medical Association has already said, is child abuse. Louise Newman, the government's own adviser on the mental health of refugees in Australian detention centres, has said that the detention of children is child abuse. There are no protections for these 10 children who are currently on Christmas Island waiting for deportation to Nauru.

The only reason the government will not agree with the Greens amendments is so that they do not have to act in the best interests of the child. I think Australians will be shocked that our government is introducing legislation to do away with our responsibilities to look after the youngest and most vulnerable children in our region. What is the advantage of being amongst the region's most disadvantaged children? There is no advantage. And yet this government's spin and posturing and lawlessness is not going to save these children's lives, it is not going to save their lives at all. It is going to subject them to torment, to trauma, to the very abuse that indefinite detention has on children. We know that because it has happened already. We know that because it happened under John Howard's Pacific solution. And under Julia Gillard's Pacific solution, which is what this legislation is, there are even less protections for children. Imagine that: even less protection for children under Julia Gillard's Pacific solution than John Howard's. That is the truth of the matter.

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