Thursday, 15 February 2018
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) UNHCR Regional Protection Officer, Mr Rico Salcedo, stated “What stood out the most from this mission at the time we were there, was a pervasive and worsening sense of despair among refugees and asylum seekers”,
(iii) the UNHCR further stated “We cannot emphasize enough that solutions must be found for all, outside of Papua New Guinea, as a matter of urgency. Australia remains ultimately responsible, as the state from which these refugees and asylum seekers have sought international protection, for their welfare and long-term settlement outside of Papua New Guinea”, and
(iv) there have been recent reports of deteriorating conditions on Nauru, and that refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru are also the responsibility of Australia; and
(b) calls on the Government to end offshore detention, and evacuate to Australia every person who sought asylum in Australia and who is currently in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
The coalition government does not support this motion. Offshore processing is a critical component of Operation Sovereign Borders. The Labor-Greens policy of abandoning regional processing cost 1,200 lives and saw 8,000 children detained. It was a humanitarian disaster.
The coalition government's strong and consistent border protection policies have saved countless lives, and we have taken back control of Australia's borders from the people smugglers. This government's position is clear and will not be changing. No-one who arrives illegally be boat will be permanently settled in Australia.
The Turnbull government are in their fifth year of government, and have been completely and utterly incompetent at managing Australia's offshore processing centres. It is incumbent on the Turnbull government to ensure refugees have access to essential services, including security, health and welfare services.
Labor believes in strong borders, offshore processing, regional resettlement and, when it's safe to do so, boat turnbacks, because we know they saves lives at sea. Manus Island and Nauru were set up as temporary processing facilities but have become places of indefinite detention because of the inaction of the Turnbull government. Labor wants eligible refugees off Manus Island and Nauru and resettled in third countries as soon as possible. We strongly support the US refugee resettlement agreement, which will see up to 1,250 refugees given the opportunity to resettle in America. One-hundred and thirty-five refugees from both Manus and Nauru have already had that opportunity. The US refugee resettlement agreement won't pick up all eligible refugees, and for that reason the Turnbull government must immediately secure other third-country settlement as a priority.