Monday, 9 December 2013
That the Senate calls on the Minister assisting the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (Senator Cash) to:
(a) provide a statement to the Senate on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees report into the conditions in the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres by Wednesday, 11 December 2013; and
(b) explain to the Senate how the Government intends to respond and action the recommendations made by the reports respectively.
The government will not be supporting this motion. The UNHCR report sought to criticise both Papua New Guinea and Nauru. The coalition believe that those criticisms were misdirected. The coalition commend the work of the government of PNG and Nauru in establishing offshore processing frameworks and we will continue to work cooperatively with those governments with respect to all aspects of offshore processing.
What PNG and Nauru inherited from the former Labor government was a bungled reimplementation of a policy that was undercapacity and underfunded. Significant increases in funding and capacity have been undertaken by the coalition government.
The UNHCR has a long history of being opposed to offshore processing. The coalition disagrees with that position. Offshore processing acts as a deterrent. It prevents people from getting on boats and risking their lives at sea. Over the last 12 weeks the coalition has been identifying and addressing infrastructure needs on Nauru and Manus Island. This process is ongoing.