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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 12919

Mr GRAY (BrandSpecial Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity) (09:34): I move:

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, and by reason of the urgent nature of the works, it is expedient that the following work be carried out without having been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: Preliminary works to establish a Regional Processing Centre on Nauru.

In line with the findings and recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, the government has been addressing the need to undertake urgent infrastructure and upgrade works on Nauru and Manus Island to support the processing of irregular maritime arrivals. There is now an urgent and immediate need to improve the amenity of facilities in Nauru and provide a basis for transition to a more established and permanent facility. At present, there are risks to the health, welfare and behaviour of the irregular maritime arrivals, and there is a need to enhance the amenity and facilities supporting the staff and service providers. The government will provide for preliminary capital works related to a 900-bed facility and staff accommodation, and the purchase of long lead items at Nauru. These works include basic site preparation, waste water treatment plants, septic systems, power generators and a project administrator.

The Nauru government has clear expectations that permanent facilities will be put into place for transferees and staff. This is also consistent with the government's international obligations for the treatment of irregular maritime arrivals. I am mindful that projects of this magnitude should be put forward for a full referral. The government very much supports the work of the Public Works Committee and has not taken this decision lightly. Therefore, as soon as possible, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship will arrange for the remainder of the infrastructure and upgrade works for the regional processing centre on Nauru to be referred to the Public Works Committee for scrutiny. I commend the motion to the House.

Question agreed to.