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Immigration Minister defends differential treatment of child detainees.

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Thursday 26 May 2005

Immigration Minister defends differential treatment of child detainees


TONY EASTLEY: The Immigration Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone, was asked by F ran Kelly on Radio National this morning why some asylum seekers with children in detention appeared to be receiving different treatment to others? 


AMANDA VANSTONE: Well, each case is in fact considered individually on the circumstances. Each case will be different. Some kids, for example the Leong child was born to the mother in, I think it was Villawood, but at least while she was in detention. 


FRAN KELLY: I think Bonnie Yu was as well. 


AMANDA VANSTONE: Well, that may be the case, but what I'm trying to indicate is that each of the circumstances might be different. 


I don't know whether the ones you're talking about at Baxter are in the residential housing project or in the detention centre themselves. I can say we've got no child on the mainland in a detention centre as a consequence of having come by boat. Any that have come by boat are either at the residential housing project or out with visas or in community arrangements. 


FRAN KELLY: What about the 2-year-old in Nauru? Would you be worried about that? 


AMANDA VANSTONE: Look, nobody wants any child to be in detention, but we don't want them separated from the parents either. And we don't want to say to people smugglers, if you pick customers who have children you will be able to guarantee that they can get to Australia and walk around freely. So, this is a sort of rock and a hard place, if you like. 


We've worked very hard to make sure that we reduce the number, and we have very significantly done it, put millions of dollars into building the residential housing project to Port Augusta, we're building two more. I mean this… other than just to indicate the change in attitude there's been… Labor never had housing projects. They had hundreds of kids in detention. 


Now, we've worked very hard to reduce, as I say - no kid on the mainland from all of those boat people in a detention centre. Now, we're continuing to do that. But the circumstances of each family, the legal action they're involved in, the entitlements of the child might vary according to their immigration circumstances. So there isn't a simple blanket rule. 


TONY EASTLEY: Immigration Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone.