Senate Passes Bill To Close Loophole In Offshore Processing System

The loophole that left Australia’s offshore processing system vulnerable to the High Court, potentially declaring Nauru and Manus Island illegal, has been closed.

Last night, the Senate passed the rushed bill with support from both the Coalition and Labor, along with crossbenchers Nick Xenephon, John Madigan, and Bob Day, 41 votes to 15.

Only The Greens, Jacqui Lambie, David Leyonhjelm, Ricky Muir, Dio Wang, and Glenn Lazarus voted against the bill.

The Greens had put forth amendments that would make the whole locking people up thing a little more humanitarian:

  • a three-month limit on detention
  • reporting of abuse
  • access for journalists, the Human Rights Commission, and the Ombudsman
  • no children or parents transferred to offshore facilities

Man, when you put it all together like that, it’s just utterly depressing how far Australian politicians will go to prevent public knowledge of human rights abuse happening under their watch. For fucking shame, Canberra.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlum got it goddam right yesterday, when he posted: “George Orwell’s book ‘1984’ was meant as a WARNING. Not a freaking ‘How to Guide‘.”

Independent Glenn Lazarus also put forth amendments, and they were also rejected.

The bill is backdated to August 2012, when the then Labor government first reopened Nauru.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann said the bill was urgent because – and I quote from The Guardian here – “the public needed confidence in offshore processing.”

Not because it might be declared illegal. Because the public needed confidence in a system the Human Rights Commission reporteds is inflicting huge damage on children, in which a Senate inquiry revealed that sexual assault occurs under the Australian government’s watch, in which guards are offering refugees drugs for sexual favours, where it is now a criminal act to speak out about the conditions, or else face two years imprisonment.

It’s just too fucking sad.

Speaking to the Senate, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young accused the Abbott government, in particular Joe Hockey, of renegading on its promise to run the centres with ethical diligence.

“Despite being told that it would all be okay, Joe, trust us, we will run these places properly, it is the exact opposite,” she said.

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale spoke along similar lines, saying: “More abuse, more torture, more children being driven to self harm, that’s what’s being allowed to happen in this parliament today.”

Never one to miss an opportunity to lay it in, Labor, although in support of the bill, criticised the government’s handling of the loophole.

“The government has had it before this court case, since February, and has only resolved to act in the last 24 hours of this [parliamentary] session,” said Labor’s higher education spokesman Kim Carr. “This is a government that is characterised by chaos and dysfunction. I don’t think I have seen anything like this in my 22 years in this chamber.”

Jackie Lambie also criticised the bill, saying it was “nothing more than a get-out-of-hail card for the government.”

via The Guardian / Sky News