Thursday, 25 June 2015
Migration Amendment (Regional Processing Arrangements) Bill 2015; In Committee
I have been told that we are not going to have a running sheet, which will mean that I will have to pick out which of my amendments relate to each other and explain that to the chamber as we go. Amendment (1) is linked to amendment (7), and this is in relation to stopping children that are here in Australia being sent to Nauru for further detention.
Obviously, I am extremely concerned. The Australian Greens have been on the record for a long time that we do not believe that children should be kept in indefinite detention. We do not believe that they should be kept in the conditions in Nauru. We have seen over and over again the mounting evidence that detention harms children—frankly, whether it is here in the Australian mainland or in offshore facilities. Despite the fact that across most sides in this place most people would argue that children do not belong in detention, we have a situation where children remain in detention as a matter of course. Whether they arrive here or are born here in Australia to asylum seeker parents, as a matter of course, children are being put on a plane and sent to detention in Nauru. This amendment says that children should not be deported to Nauru for the purpose of detention.
We are talking about young children. We are talking about newborn babies who have been born here in Australian hospitals. One of the claimants in relation to the case currently before the court is a family with a newborn baby. That baby was born on Australian soil. That baby was born in an Australian hospital and, like every other child that is born here in Australia, that baby should have access to protection here under Australian law. Instead, that baby is staring down the barrel of being deported for detention in Nauru. It is unconscionable that, with all of the evidence of the damage that detention does to children, we continue to keep children locked up and we continue to automatically detain children simply because they have been born to asylum seeker parents.
Over the last six months, we have seen more and more evidence come forward about the specific conditions in Nauru and how unfit those conditions are for children—particularly young children. Save the Children are the agency contracted by the government to provide services to children in detention. They are the people employed to look after these children, and they themselves say that they cannot do that properly while it is going on in Nauru. That is how bad the conditions are in the camp. It is unsafe for children. It is unsafe for babies. The issues of child abuse, you would have to argue, is the worst example of how unsafe Nauru has become for children and babies in this place. While we continue to send more children there, we are turning a blind eye to the harm that is being done inside.
It is beyond belief that this still happens after the Moss review, which detailed horrific evidence in relation to the abuse of children; after the Human Rights Commission report The forgotten children, which listed that there were 38 cases of child abuse inside centres; and after the evidence from staff who work in Nauru themselves saying that they cannot look after these kids properly. They cannot do their job as social workers, teachers or case managers properly while they are in these conditions. The conditions are simply not fit for children.
We have to make a stand today. This is an opportunity. The government wants more power to detain people and wants to shore up its power to detain people. It should not include children who are currently here in Australia being deported to Nauru. That is what these amendments do. I hope that we can get some agreement across this chamber that no more children should be sent to this place from here in Australia. I would argue that never again should children be detained but, with the conditions as they are at the moment, surely people can understand that for now there should be no excuse for continuing to send children, infants and babies to be detained indefinitely in Nauru or any other offshore facility. That is the substance of those particular amendments.
The CHAIRMAN: Senator Hanson-Young, I have now had an opportunity to look at your amendments and have taken some advice, and it would appear that they could be done in groups, with (1) and (7) together, (2) and (8) together, (3) and (5) together and (4) and (6) together. That is just a suggestion from me given that they are on different topics, but it is simply a matter for you. Do you want to move any amendments at this point?
I think we can go to (1) and (7), which are in relation to the further detention of children.
The CHAIRMAN: Do you seek leave to move amendments (1) and (7) together?
I seek leave to move those amendments together.
I move amendments (1) and (7) on sheet 7738 together:
(1) Clause 2, page 2, at the end of the table, add:
3. Schedule 2 The day after this Act receives the Royal Assent.
(7) Page 4 (after line 5), at the end of the Bill, add:
Schedule 2—Detention of vulnerable persons
Migration Act 1958
1 Subsection 198AD(1)
Omit "sections 198AE, 198AF and 198AG", substitute "sections 198AE, 198AF, 198AG and 198AGA".
2 After section 198AG
198AGA Vulnerable persons
(1) Section 198AD does not apply to an unauthorised maritime arrival if the person is a vulnerable person for the purpose of subsection (2).
(2) A person is a vulnerable person for the purpose of this subsection if:
(a) the person is aged under 18; or
(b) the person is the parent of guardian (or other family member) of a person covered by paragraph (a).
The amendments to the Migration Act 1958 made by this Schedule apply in relation to an unauthorised maritime arrival on or after the day on which this Schedule commences.
4 Transitional—vulnerable persons transferred before Royal Assent
(1) This item applies to a person if:
(a) the person was an unauthorised maritime arrival at any time on or after 13 August 2012; and
(b) the person was taken from Australia to a regional processing country in accordance with subsection 198AD(2) of the Migration Act 1958; and
(c) at the time the person was taken to the regional processing country the person was:
(i) aged under 18; or
(ii) the parent or guardian (or other family member) of a person covered by subparagraph (i); and
(d) on the day this Act receives the Royal Assent, the person is:
(i) aged under 18; or
(ii) the parent or guardian (or other family member) of a person covered by subparagraph (i).
(2) As soon as reasonably practicable, an officer must ensure the person is removed from the regional processing country and returned to Australia.