Senate debates

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


Asylum Seekers

1:10 pm

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

I'd just like to add my support to suspending standing orders in order to deal with this matter as a matter of urgency. It is, of course, an emergency that is unfolding on Manus Island and, indeed, on Nauru. I for one am not going to sit here and be lectured to by Senator Cash about using the lives of refugees for political purposes. It is the height of hypocrisy for members of the coalition, ministers of the coalition, to pretend that treating these people appallingly, in a way that would be such a deterrent to them seeking refuge from war, torture and persecution, is somehow not political. They are trying to pretend to the Australian people that they care about the wellbeing of the men and the families on Manus Island and Nauru. No-one believes it. Everybody can see it is for sheer political purposes that this government treat these people—human beings—worse than animals.

I remember that in this place some years ago Senator Cash gave a death-defying speech about Senator Wong having blood on her hands. Remember that speech? Well, I put it to you, Mr President, that if somebody wants to talk about having blood on their hands they should think about the deaths of these people directly at the hands of the Australian government. Senator Cash has stood here and justified the treatment of these individuals as simply collateral damage. If the Australian people—the media and individuals—had the ability to see how torturous these hellholes are and to hear the cries of help from the individuals locked up, very few Australians would accept that this is a reasonable, decent policy to continue.

And we know false hope is being given to these individuals, because we heard ourselves, through the transcript of the meeting between President Trump and our own Prime Minister, that there is no chance that many of these people will have any hope of getting out of the hellhole that is Manus Island. In fact, it was a point of discussion and encouragement that our Prime Minister gave to the President—that he didn't have to help these people; he just had to pretend he was helping him. He is using these individuals as political pawns. So don't stand here and lecture other people about using refugees and these poor souls on Manus Island for political purposes. These camps are only open because the coalition and the Labor Party voted to reopen them and set them up and keep people there indefinitely.

The death of this man yesterday falls squarely at the feet of the Australian government. Doctors urged the Australian government, the minister and the department for months to get this man off the island, and those pleas for a medical evacuation were ignored. This man died in vain yesterday because of the political, torturous treatment carried out by the Australian government and by individual members of this government such as Senator Cash.


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