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Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Page: 10812

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (16:00): I take this opportunity to respond to the hundreds of people who have reached out to me recently to urge an end to the physical and mental trauma facing children on Nauru. Every day my office is inundated with calls, emails and letters from people just saying 'enough'. Indeed just before I left for question time today I received a call from Joy in my electorate, who added her voice to the chorus of people calling for a solution to this medical emergency. To every person who has reached out to me to demand change, I say thank you. I also acknowledge the strong and principled position of the Australian Medical Association and all of the doctors, including those from my electorate of Newcastle, who have contributed to this call for national action. It is timely to think that only yesterday this place joined in total unity and sincerity to apologise to the survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions, yet as a country we continue to maintain an offshore indefinite detention regime that inflicts deep and lasting trauma on detainees. It is no secret that this is a wicked problem with a fraught history, but it doesn't mean that we need to keep going down this path.

However, the answer will require a genuinely multipartisan response, because no private member's bill has a hope of passing if the government won't list it for debate, and no legislation can proceed without majority support from this place. A solution shouldn't be beyond us. Recently the Prime Minister indicated that he might be willing to accept New Zealand's longstanding offer to resettle sick and vulnerable children and their families. While Labor have long supported this deal, we hold grave concerns about the government's proposed legislation, which would ban anyone who has sought to come to Australia by boat from ever visiting at any time in the future, even as a tourist. While we think this legislation is an extreme overreach, we understand that this situation cannot go on. That's why last night Labor reached out to the government with a number of compromises that we would be willing to accept. Today I urge the government to engage with Labor and the crossbench in good faith to negotiate with open hearts and minds to find a solution that we can all accept, and break this cycle of trauma and despair. We simply cannot keep holding people in indefinite detention when all the evidence shows how utterly detrimental this is to the health and wellbeing of these detainees. It is time to close the door on this chapter in our national history. (Time expired)