Thursday, 16 May 2013
Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012; In Committee
Wow! I realise the minister representing the immigration minister today is not the minister who was in the Senate on the night that we debated the legislation that would allow for refugees to be dumped on Manus Island or Nauru, but there is nothing binding in law to ensure that that entire list of things that the minister has just read out have to happen. In fact, there is nothing in law to ensure that they have to happen. The government and the opposition made it law that the minister does not have to prove any of this in the first instance. This chamber was not given the ability nor the right to scrutinise the conditions on Manus Island or Nauru deliberately by the government, because they knew it would not pass the test that even the Houston panel suggested was needed. The Houston report outlines a list of things that need to happen—how people have to be treated, the conditions that they will be kept in, the appropriateness of services, the appropriateness of accommodation. The Houston report said that no-one could be sent to these offshore places without these things in place. The point is precisely that none of those things is happening and there is no-one to ensure that they start happening, because there is no independent scrutiny or checks. It is precisely why we need the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to have access.
I come back again to the fact that the government are more concerned about hiding what is going on in these places than making sure that they are following their own policies or the recommendations of the Houston report. The fact is that those things are in the report and they have not been done. You are more interested in trying to cover it up. That is the truth of it. They are not in law and they are not binding. This government would prefer that it stayed out of the public eye—that Australian taxpayers did not know that they are spending $10 billion on decrepit, inhumane, wet, insufficient camps of cruelty. That is the reality of this. Chair, I ask that the amendments be put.