Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022


Commonwealth Ombudsman; Consideration

4:44 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I want to speak briefly to a couple of the assessments by the Commonwealth Ombudsman under section 4860 of the Migration Act. This goes directly to the length of time that people are spending in immigration detention. Assessment No. 8 of 2022 by the Commonwealth Ombudsman has the case of ID—of course, names are redacted in these reports, and rightly so. This is the tenth assessment for this particular person, who has been in immigration detention for nine years. Nine years in immigration detention! There's another case in a report tabled today of someone who has been in immigration detention for more than three years, who arrived in Australia with his family on a humanitarian visa.

I acknowledge that we've got a new government in place, and I think the minister has to be given an opportunity to come to grips with this situation, but I'm aware of cases where people have been in immigration detention in this country for over a decade. There are stateless people who are in immigration detention, and who have been in immigration detention in Australia for years. I've spent a lot of time in this place—in my view, rightfully so—talking about the horrors of offshore detention. I visited Manus Island on multiple occasions. I was there when Mr Dutton, from the other place, ordered the Papua New Guinea government to cut off the food, the drinking water, the electricity and the medical support. I actually went into the Manus Island detention centre on the first day those basics of life were cut off for over 650 desperate people—who, by the way, conducted an absolutely heroic resistance to that brutality ordered by the Liberal government and Minister Dutton at the time. But I think that the time has come for us to start to also focus on immigration detention onshore in Australia, and the depravity of that arbitrary indefinite detention. Many people are there due to ministerial whim. It's the minister who, with the stroke of a pen, has condemned them to years of detention, and it's the minister who could, with the stroke of a pen, release them.

These are dark and bloody days in our country's history. The immigration detention regime that we've seen both offshore and onshore in the last decade is a foul chapter in our country's story. There's only one thing that's going to clean it up. There's only one thing that's going to make sure to clean up the depravity and the brutality—and these are systems by design that are brutal. They are systems designed to deliberately harm innocent people. Remember, this is administrative detention—it's not as a result of a sentence by the courts. There's only one thing that's going to let us put a broom through this brutality, to hold people to account and, most importantly, make sure this never happens again, and that is a royal commission into immigration detention.

Honourable senators: Hear, hear!

An incident having occurred in the gallery—

Photo of Catryna BilykCatryna Bilyk (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order in the gallery!

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

That's what we need in this country. Let's reveal the horrors of Manus Island and Nauru, the murders, the rapes, the child sex-abuse and the deliberate harming of innocent people. Let's reveal the punitive, cruel nature of onshore immigration detention. Cases come to the parliament every week of people who are detained for years and who have no hope of being released any time soon. The solution is there for us; let's take it.

Question agreed to.