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Children out of detention centres, public sector back in control.



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JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Population & Immigration

MEDIA RELEASE

CHILDREN OUT OF DETENTION CENTRES, PUBLIC SECTOR BACK IN CONTROL

Since January this year, Labor has been calling for:

• The release of all children from behind the razor wire of detention centres; • A return to public sector control of detention centres; • The mothballing of Woomera; and • Faster processing of the protection claims of asylum seekers

Yesterday’s report by Justice P.N. Bhagwati, the special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also focuses on the need to fix these problems with the Howard Government’s mandatory detention system.

It’s now time for the Government to act by adopting Labor’s plan to remove children from behind the razor wire, as announced by Simon Crean on Australia Day 2002. I note that the Greens have today lent their support to Labor’s consistent calls to alleviate the suffering of children in detention.

In the interests of accountability and scrutiny, it is also vital that the Government acts to return the management of detention centres to a well-resourced public sector organisation such as Australian Protective Service (APS). In that light, I was disappointed to hear this week that APS has withdrawn its bid from the tender for the provision of immigration detention services to the Commonwealth. Not only has the field of tenderers become even thinner, it has removed the only public sector organisation in the running.

I understand that APS’ increased role in Australia’s counter-terrorism capabilities has meant it simply does not have the resources to be able to adequately undertake the detention centres contract were it successful.

Labor has called, on numerous occasions, for the Government to cancel this tender process and return detention centre management to the public sector. News of APS’ withdrawal further supports Labor’s position and proves the folly of proceeding with a tender where there are only three bidders, two of whom are arms of the same company and the third has experience running just one correctional facility in Australia.

For further information contact: Julia Gillard on (03) 9742 5800 or 0417 361 637 Jamie Snashall, Adviser, on (02) 6277 4349 or 0408 419 699