Local, Independant and Effective

What will it take to get #KidsoffNauru?

Posted October 15, 2018


Cathy has asked the Prime Minister what it would take for the government to accept New Zealand's resettlement offer and have kids off Nauru by Christmas.


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:28): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, my electorate of Indi expects our government to show compassion, mercy and justice. There have been claims and counterclaims about the welfare of children in immigration detention on Nauru—reports of children withdrawing, refusing to eat and unable to communicate. We have responsibility for the welfare of these children. We put them there. Prime Minister, what would it take to act with compassion, mercy and justice, to accept the resettlement offer from New Zealand and have these children and their families off Nauru by Christmas?

Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister) (14:28): I thank the member for Indi for her question. My electorate expects our government to show compassion, mercy and justice. I believe every electorate, every constituency, in this country expects that. And I must say, as a shadow minister who was responsible for immigration and border protection, while I watched the carnage that happened under the previous government, as people died, as immigration detention centres were opened that we'd closed, they expected us, as a government, to act with compassion. And we did, and we stopped the boats. That's what we did. And now we are dealing with the legacy of Labor's failure.

Opposition members interjecting 

Mr MORRISON: I notice they get very agitated when I talk about this issue. That's what happens when you stare failure in the face, which is your record on immigration and border protection as an opposition today and when you were in government.

To the very serious issues that the member for Indi asked about, there are 65 health professionals contracted by the Australian government to provide health services on Nauru, and that includes 33 mental health professionals. There is one healthcare professional to every 11 transferees on Nauru. Decisions about medical transfers are made on a case-by-case basis, and quite a number of those have been made in recent times.

Ms Keay interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Braddon is warned.

Mr MORRISON: Four hundred and eighteen people have been resettled from Manus and Nauru to the United States, and I should note that, as you would also know, Mr Speaker, and as we have discussed, transferees are not—

Honourable members interjecting

Mr MORRISON: I'll come to the issue you've raised, but transferees are not in detention on Nauru. They are living freely in the community, as Nauruans are. You ask a question about New Zealand. The advice to government I have from our agencies—I've seen this advice and I've quizzed our officials on this advice—is that people smugglers are marketing New Zealand as a destination, as a back door to Australia. You asked me what would need to happen. We've introduced legislation into this place to prevent that backdoor movement of people from New Zealand into Australia. That legislation is not supported by those opposite, and we would ask them to consider that. The legislation has been sitting on the Senate Notice Paper, up in the other place, since 2016. It passed this chamber. It did not pass this chamber with the support of the Labor Party or the crossbench. But, until that back door is shut, these issues only run the risk of inviting more people to risk their lives at sea and of us having to stop the boats. We're not going to start them again; only the Labor Party will do that. (Time expired)

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