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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5679


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (21:20): The minister and the coalition spokesperson, Senator Cash, have both gone on at length about how the parliament will be the ultimate place in which this will be scrutinised. You have just voted down a review. Are we going to move, as my colleague has said, for a sunset clause? We all know that in parliament we have people who have been exempted from appearing before Senate inquiries—people who have worked in minister's offices, for example, as Senator Sinodinos would know extremely well—as a result of a certain maritime incident. People were exempted from having to appear to be scrutinised by Senate committees because they knew what went on and did not have to appear to say so. Let us forget the notion that Senate estimates or any inquiries are going to get to the bottom of anything because we will just get, 'We will take that on notice; we will get something to you,' and we will get some document which says absolutely nothing or it will be exempted as cabinet-in-confidence or whatever else. So let us abandon the notion that you are going to get full-scale parliamentary scrutiny of what goes on in these places.

I ask the minister: will she now give an unequivocal guarantee to this parliament—since Senator Cash says she is satisfied the parliament is enough, that we do not need these reviews—that lawyers, members of parliament, human rights commissioners and the like will be able to visit the detention centres on Nauru and on Manus Island? They were not allowed to before when these detention centres operated, but now that the parliament is the scrutinising body, will you guarantee that parliamentarians, lawyers and humans rights bodies will have access to the detention centres?