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Minister, tell the truth to Coalition MPs.

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JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Population & Immigration



This afternoon in Question Time, Minister Ruddock misrepresented Labor’s position on the amendment I will move to the Migration Legislation Amendment (No.1) Bill. Labor seeks to modify the legal power to detain asylum seekers so that children cannot be held in high security detention for long periods of time.

Labor’s amendment will compel the Government to:

• Put unaccompanied children into foster or community care arrangements; and • Allow families with children to live in accommodation like the Woomera alternate detention trial.

I asked the Minister, just as he was free to cross the floor in 1988 to vote with the then Labor Government to endorse a non-discriminatory immigration policy for Australia, to assure Coalition MPs that they would be similarly free to cross the floor and support Labor’s amendment.

Not only did the Minister fail to confirm that he would allow Coalition MPs the opportunity to listen to their hearts and vote accordingly, he twice misrepresented Labor’s position. First, he claimed Labor was intending to promote litigation by the definition it used of unaccompanied children. Second, he claimed Labor planned to simply release children with families.

Both of these claims are entirely untrue.

• Labor’s amendment uses the same definition of ‘unaccompanied detained child’ as that appearing in the Government’s own Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946.

• Labor’s amendment states that children with families should be in a detention model like the Woomera alternate detention trial, which has been endorsed by the Minister’s own Department and his detention advisory group IDAG as an unqualified success that should be immediately expanded.

Minister, there is no credible argument against Labor’s amendment. Take the time to tell your colleagues that truth.

26 August 2002

For further information contact: Julia Gillard on 0417 361 637 Jamie Snashall, Adviser, on (02) 6277 4349 or 0408 419 699