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Expanded detention inquiry should be public.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Bartlett Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Dated: 01 May 2005

Press Release Number: 05/211

Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Related: Attorney General & Justice

Expanded detention inquiry should be public

Democrats Deputy Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, says the Governments decision to expand the Cornelia Rau Inquiry into other cases demonstrates why the Inquiry should be a public one.

"The fact that there have been other serious cases of wrongful detention is all the more reason why all the details should be in the public arena through an Inquiry that has proper legal powers and protections," Senator Bartlett said.

"The Immigration laws are far too harsh as they are, but it is even more worrying when they appear to not even be competently administered.

"These sort of serious mistakes are the inevitable result of a law that gives the Department absolute power to jail people indefinitely, merely on a suspicion.

"The case for changing the laws relating to mandatory detention is now compelling, and this must be one of the recommendations out of Mr Palmers Inquiry.

"The Government must also indicate how long it now expects Mr Palmers investigation to take.

"It is welcome that extra cases are now being examined, but this will inevitably mean the Palmer Inquiry will be delayed."

Senator Bartlett currently has a motion pending for the Senate to set up an Inquiry into issues relating to the Cornelia Rau incident, but has been waiting to see what sort of report and material Mr Palmer produces before deciding whether to go ahead with such an Inquiry.

There is also a Senate inquiry into Mental Health issues occurring, initiated and chaired by Democrat Leader Senator Lyn Allison, that will also look at issues in custody.

"The Democrats will also ensure these issues are perused when the Senate returns in May and in Senate Estimates Committees. Depending on what information the Government provides, it may be necessary to explore a full Senate Inquiry into detention."