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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5674


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (20:50): I must note the absolute inability of the government to give any certainty on these issues. We are talking about the human rights of people—the protections that we owe to children, particularly those who arrive here on their own. There is no guarantee that any of the things that the government are talking about will happen. They have refused to put any of them in the legislation—there is no legal requirement for this parliament to see the arrangements and the conditions before we send people off to Nauru or Manus Island or Malaysia. Those documents, as this legislation says, do not even have to exist. The government are just asking us to trust them. They are not prepared to put it into law; we just have to trust them.

It is hardly a resounding endorsement of the requirements and the spirit of the Houston report, let alone our obligations under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The government is simply asking us to trust them, which is precisely why we should be seeing some type of review of the conditions in these places that we send people to, because we know that the last time we sent children to Nauru the conditions there were horrid. Last time we sent children to Nauru, we had children sewing their lips together. Last time we sent children to Nauru, there was one boy—the story sticks in my mind—who ate a light globe to end his own life because the conditions of indefinite detention on that island prison were so devastating that he turned to self-mutilation and attempted suicide. They are the conditions that we know existed last time, yet the government is asking us to just trust them. And there will be no review. There is no review. There is no legal reason for the government to review the conditions of detention and have to report to the parliament. This is what happens when the government of the day are desperate to rush legislation through the parliament: they override people's rights, the need for protection and the rule of law. They do not think about what will happen in 12 months time or in two years time.

That is why I have just circulated a final amendment. We have given this government chance after chance tonight. First of all, we said, 'If you're going to dump people in Nauru, at least put a time limit on it.' They voted that down. Then we said, 'Well, if you're not going to put a time limit on that, the length of time you leave people in these places, at least guarantee some safeguards and protections around the conditions in which people are going to be locked up.' They voted that down. Now we have asked for a review of the conditions in offshore detention facilities, and they are about to vote that down. This government does not care what happens to those 10 children once they are dumped in Nauru. You do not care. Everything you are moving tonight and everything you have voted against tonight says you do not want to have legal responsibility for the children who are currently on Christmas Island waiting to be deported to Nauru.

Mr Chairman, as I said, I have just circulated a final amendment, which puts a sunset clause on this entire piece of legislation. If this amendment were supported, the bill as presented to the parliament tonight would cease to have effect on 16 August 2014. If you are not going to review the conditions in which you lock people up, around which you have set no parameters for how people are treated, and you will not even put a time limit on their detention, then I do not believe that you deserve to see this legislation last any longer than the next two years. How can you justify having no transparency, no protections and no time limits? This legislation must have an end date, which is contained in the amendment we have just circulated in the chamber. I return to the amendment that is currently before us, Greens amendment (1) on sheet 7268. Mr Chairman, I ask that the question be put.