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Monday, 1 August 2022
Page: 259

Ms TINK (North Sydney) (10:12): I second the motion. I thank the member for Clark for introducing the Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2022, and I welcome the opportunity to speak on this vital issue.

Australia's immigration regime is unique in the world. It is uniquely cruel. In conflict with international law, Australia's migration system allows people to be kept in detention indefinitely. This bill seeks to bring an end to that cruelty. That cruelty comes at a vast financial cost, as has been outlined by the member for Clark, and devastating human costs. The damage to the physical and mental health of people caught in this system, including children, is well documented.

In 2015, as part of the We're Better Than This campaign, together with a wider group of prominent Australians from business, the arts, academia, sport and religion, I condemned the conditions in which children were being detained, particularly on the islands of Nauru and Christmas Island. We won, and 276 kids got out of detention. But due to a lack of action from successive governments, the cruelty persists.

Australia is holding more than 1,500 people in immigration detention onshore. Some have been there for more than a decade and, as we heard from the member for Clark, the average length of detention is currently 700 days. This compares to about 55 days in the US and 14 days in Canada. We are a global outlier, locking people up on a mandatory basis and without time limits. Offshore more than 200 people remain stuck in Nauru or Papua New Guinea, with many more transferred to Australia, their lives in limbo. Politics has failed here. Instead of taking responsibility, Australia will take up valuable US and New Zealand resettlement places—yet even these deals will not provide solutions for everyone caught in our costly offshore regime. This bill would put a stop to the cruelty, and I commend it to the House.

Debate adjourned.