The Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, today re-introduced his Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2022, which would also effectively abolish offshore detention. The Bill was seconded by the Member for North Sydney, Kylea Tink.
“My Bill provides alternatives to immigration detention by moving asylum seekers and refugees into the community almost always in preference to being behind bars,” Mr Wilkie said. “It ensures they have access to housing, financial support, education, health care and other government services, as well as the right to work, as required by international law. Importantly, the Bill outlines specific conditions on how and why a person can be detained and rules out long-term and arbitrary detention by setting limited time frames.
“It is very similar to a Bill I introduced during the previous Parliament. Regrettably that Bill received no support from the major parties and lapsed in another shameful demonstration of the immoral and unlawful asylum seeker policies of the Labor and Liberal parties.
“When considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration last year, my earlier Bill attracted more than 400 public submissions that were overwhelmingly in support. Given this appetite for change, why then are there still 1,500 people being held in immigration detention in Australia and more than 100 languishing on Nauru?
“Labor has shown it is capable of compassion with the recent return of a young Tamil family to the Queensland community of Biloela, but not before more than $7 million was blown on locking them up like criminals. Since 2013, Australia has squandered about $9.5 billion on offshore detention. The Government’s own figures show it costs about $360,000 per year to hold someone in immigration detention in Australia and $460,000 to keep a person in hotel detention, as was the case with the poor souls kept in limbo for years at Melbourne’s Park Hotel. Compare this to $4,429 for a refugee or asylum seeker to live in the community on a bridging visa.
“The bottom line is that Australia’s bipartisan policy of mandatory detention is immoral and illegal under numerous international agreements. It should have been abolished years ago and this Bill promises to do so now.”