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Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Page: 50

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Mr BURNS» (Macnamara) (13:45): Those opposite like to say that they are good economic managers, but good economic managers don't waste $185 million on a political stunt. I'm sure on this side of the House we could find lots of ways to spend $185 million. We could possibly stop cutting funding to schools. We could perhaps put more funding into health. We could perhaps put more funding into our universities. But, instead, after the medevac bill, what did we see from those opposite? We saw a political stunt where they reopened the Christmas Island detention centre. And you know what, that would be great if there were thousands of refugees to house there. But do you know how many refugees were housed at the Christmas Island detention centre? Zero. Not one. There were more guards at the Christmas Island detention centre than refugees. $185 million to guard over zero.

And then what did we see? We saw a defenceless family with a two-year-old girl and a four-year-old girl taken there in the middle of the night. The girls were forced to go in a separate car to their parents to stay on Christmas Island, for no reasons other than a political stunt and cruelty by this government. I think that this decision can be reversed straightaway by the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs. It can be reversed straightaway by the Minister for Home Affairs. Instead, the government continues the cruelty and continues to waste money, spending millions and millions of dollars to lock up four-year-old and two-year-old girls on Christmas Island. It's a disgrace and they should reverse the decision today.