Tuesday, 28 November 2017
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) after three weeks of the refugees and people seeking asylum being starved and dehydrated, the Papua New Guinea police began the forcible removal of the men from the Regional Processing Centre,
(iii) this forcible removal included people being assaulted and beaten with metal rods,
(iv) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated it had received reports that several men had been severely injured and medical treatment was paramount, and Mr Thomas Albrecht the UNHCR regional representative stated that "the situation still unfolding on Manus Island presents a grave risk of further deterioration, and of further damage to extremely vulnerable human beings",
(v) Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) have taken ten people to hospital in the last 24 hours, and
(vi) the men on Manus Island, and the men, women and children on Nauru are Australia's responsibility and remain so; and
(b) calls on the Government to end offshore processing and detention, and bring to Australia every person who sought asylum in Australia and who is currently in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
The government understands that all refugees and failed asylum seekers have now peacefully relocated to alternative accommodation from the former Manus Regional Processing Centre. The alternative accommodation provides them with food, water, security and medical services. The coalition will not waver in our commitment to securing Australia's borders and preventing deaths at sea. Regional processing has been a key component of Australia's highly successful border protection measures. Senator McKim's reckless actions in Papua New Guinea have demonstrated that he's more interested in political grandstanding than the best interests of the men on Manus Island. This motion further demonstrates that the Greens have learned nothing from their past mistakes, which saw 8,000 children detained and 1,200 deaths at sea.
Labor will not be supporting this motion. The stand-off at the Manus Island processing centre could have been avoided. It happened because the Turnbull government waited until the last minute to make new arrangements in PNG. The government should have been up-front about access to essential services at the alternative accommodation, but it wasn't. The Turnbull government has been woefully incompetent in its management of offshore processing arrangements. Reports that force was used to remove asylum seekers and refugees against their will are of grave concern. Labor expressed our concerns at the time. The Prime Minister must work with the PNG authorities to ensure the safety of the refugees in their alternative accommodation. The PNG Supreme Court ruled that Australia has a moral obligation to ensure refugees have access to essential services or alternative accommodation. This includes access to food, water, security, sanitation, health care and welfare services. We have repeatedly called for the refugees on Manus and Nauru to be resettled in third countries as soon as possible.