Wednesday, 31 August 2016
That the Senate—
(a) acknowledges the damage done to men, women and children by offshore detention on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea and Nauru as revealed to the Parliament through Senate inquiries, independent government reports and a recent leak of more than 2,000 incident reports from Nauru; and
(b) calls on the Government to establish a Royal Commission into Australia’s immigration detention facilities, including those on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
The response from the Turnbull government to the reporting of the Nauru files shows it is attempting to wipe its hands of responsibility. The government must provide a safe and humane environment for all people seeking asylum who are within Australia's offshore detention network. The number of children involved is very concerning and the allegations of self-harm are very disturbing. Due to the inadequate response from the Turnbull government to these serious reports, Labor will refer allegations in the Nauru files to a Senate committee for inquiry. We do not need a royal commission to tell us that there are real problems here. We need the government to take responsibility for its actions and to adopt a clear set of policies, as the Labor Party has outlined, and we need to investigate the allegations of serious abuse and self-harm reported in the Guardian. Therefore, we oppose the senator's motion.
The government remains steadfast in our commitment to strong and consistent border protection policies, including regional processing. Labor, with support from the Greens, handed control of our border and migration program to people-smuggling criminals. This government will not repeat the grave mistakes of Labor, which saw our border agencies overrun by 50,000 illegal arrivals that came on more than 800 boats. Sadly, Labor's border chaos resulted in at least 1,200 deaths at sea and saw more than 8,000 children put into detention. Our border protection policies will not change. No-one in regional processing centres will be resettled in Australia.
Within 12 hours of the shocking footage being aired on FourCorners in relation to what is going on at Don Dale, the Prime Minister quite rightly stepped up, did his duty and announced that the government would be moving to a royal commission. Yet during the election campaign we saw the release of thousands of allegations of abuse, just from Nauru alone, in the Nauru files, and what did we get from Labor and Liberal? Nothing; nothing substantive at all. This is a continuation of the veil of secrecy that has been dropped over Australia's immigration detention network by the government, supported in the main by the Labor Party. It is time that we shone the disinfectant of sunlight on what is going on and the terrible abuses that we know are occurring and which the Senate has already heard are occurring through previous Senate inquiries. Finally, Senator McGrath, they are not illegals. It is not illegal to seek asylum.