Senate debates

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Answers to Questions on Notice

Question Nos 2626, 2794 and 2795

3:02 pm

Photo of Scott LudlamScott Ludlam (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

That is actually correct. For once, I will take your interjection, because it is quite correct.

As revealed in the Senate inquiry, a tiny fraction—two—of over 50 matters reported to police since 2012 have resulted in a conviction. Human rights abuse is rampant in that tiny country, not condemned by the Australian government but actively supported, aided and abetted.

The final example I bring forward is in Papua New Guinea. Investigative journalist Rory Callinan revealed in 2013 that Australia's immigration department funded, as he puts it, their 'most thuggish paramilitary police unit—allegedly responsible for rapes, murders and other serious human rights abuses' to secure the detention centre on Manus Island. The allegations here are utterly chilling. He revealed that officers of the mobile squad beat a local man to death on the island in July 2013, then received a special living away allowance of about $100 a day out of funding provided by the department.

Again we see this pattern of behaviour where the foreign policy of the Australian government appears to be guided by there not being a regime so authoritarian that we will not hand over resources or equipment, whether it be military or other forms, to enable them to carry out these human rights abuses if it is all in service of the domestic political agenda around asylum seekers. I wonder what has happened to this country's soul.

These are, I acknowledge, serious allegations. Not all of them are canvassed in the questions on notice that I presume are on Senator Brandis's table now. Nonetheless, if this is not a pattern of behaviour, of conscious and premeditated foreign policy decisions by the Australian government, let's see some evidence that that is the case These questions should not have remained on the Notice Paper as long as they have. We would like to see some evidence that it is not in fact the foreign policy of this very government to support and perpetuate human rights abuses, no matter how dark the record of the military units or secret police units that we support. It is unforgiveable if that is the case, and it is incumbent on the government to provide evidence to the contrary—if such evidence even exists.


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