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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3072


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (15:28): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Communications (Senator Fifield) to a question without notice asked by Senator McKim today relating to the death of an asylum seeker in Nauru.

On Friday last week, Fariborz was found dead inside the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, the Nauru detention centre, where he'd been for five years, imprisoned, denied his freedom, denied his liberty, for doing nothing wrong. He'd committed no offence under Australian law, and he had acted entirely in accordance with his rights under international law. While he was at the detention centre on Nauru—Australia's detention centre—in Australia's care and while he fell within Australia's duty of care in that detention centre, he'd been assessed by psychiatrists who had found him to be severely traumatised.

Of course, Fariborz's story didn't start in Nauru; it started in his home country of Iran. Fariborz was a Kurd—a persecuted group of people who've faced lengthy and ongoing persecution not only in Iran but also in Iraq and Turkey. Fariborz had fled. He was captured and detained for three months as a 10-year-old child in Iran. He'd fled persecution and he'd sought a better life in our country. He'd stretched out a hand for help to Australia, a country that once was renowned around the world for its strong human rights record. Yet, that country, our country, rejected his pleas for help and instead exiled him to Nauru, as a political prisoner, where he remained for five years.

His tragic death is yet another life broken, and ultimately lost, because of the bipartisan cruelty of offshore detention. There have been far too many deaths in our offshore detention system—deaths on Manus Island and deaths on Nauru. But it isn't only the deaths; it's the destruction of mental health that is going on on Manus Island and Nauru that is so, so deeply distressing.

What's become painfully clear is that this government, with the support of the Australian Labor Party, would rather that people die in offshore detention than ever let them set foot in this country after arriving by boat and seeking asylum here. There have been five years of suffering, begun by the Labor Party, who put every single man, woman and child who sought asylum in this country—and who is currently detained on Manus Island and Nauru—there in the first place. Then the Liberal Party have run this outrageous offshore detention system with such levels of cruelty.

Today, we have to ask: how many more deaths need to occur before our political prisoners on Manus Island and Nauru are freed? How many more lives have to be destroyed? How many more cases of severe mental illness need to be created by our country before we rediscover our national conscience? How long will this dark and bloody chapter in our national story have to continue before the Labor and Liberal parties rediscover their consciences?

The cruelty of our country's offshore detention regime is now infecting the rest of the world. Far right regimes are looking to this government for inspiration in human misery, and they are finding it in absolute spades. In the United States, we know that there are children being ripped from the arms of their parents right now and sent— (Time expired)

Question agreed to.