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Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Page: 4959


Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (15:54): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 782 standing in my name for today, relating to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, be taken as a formal motion.

The PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

Senator Moore: Yes.

The PRESIDENT: There is an objection.

Senator WRIGHT: I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator WRIGHT: I am greatly concerned that the government has chosen to deny me a chance to put this important motion to expedite the ratification of OPCAT, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. This OPCAT was voluntarily signed up to by an Australian government in 2009, and since then both Labor and coalition governments have inexplicably dragged their feet in its ratification. OPCAT would ensure independent monitoring and reporting on places of detention in Australia, all those places where some of the most overlooked marginalised and powerless people are kept detained: prisoners in jails and police lockups, patients in psychiatric facilities, young people in juvenile detention, and asylum seekers. With very recent examples of deaths in custody and cruel and inhumane treatment of people detained, it is very disappointing that I have been prevented from putting this motion today. It is crucial to fully ratify the protocol and set clear time frames to implement. Australia's own good standing is at stake.