May 18, 2013
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has held open a chance of human rights inspection of offshore detention centres, despite the Senate’s rejection of legislated access.
Ms Gillard said the government still made it possible for people to visit under arrangement with the minister for immigration.
She defended sweeping changes to the Migration Act passed by the parliament on Thursday as implementing recommendations of the expert panel chaired by Angus Houston advising the government.
Asked whether excising the Australian mainland from the migration zone was a breach of the UN human rights convention, Ms Gillard told reporters in Hobart on Friday: ”Absolutely not.”
As the legislation was being pushed through, the Greens tried and failed in the Senate to give Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs the same access to offshore processing centres as she has for the mainland.
But asked whether Professor Triggs would be able to visit the Nauru and Manus Island, PNG, centres, Ms Gillard said: ”Look, we do make access available.
”It’s one of the changes we’ve made from the Howard government. It’s a matter of approaching the minister for immigration for making arrangements.”
Ms Gillard did not respond directly when asked whether it remained Labor’s policy that no children should be held behind wire in detention.
The issue of youth detention has arisen in Tasmania, where underage boys are being held at the government’s Pontville centre, and at Manus Island where protests have arisen over the conditions facing families.
”We’re making appropriate provision for children,” Ms Gillard said.
”We do seek to make arangements for children to attend school around the country. Our approach is, we is we work through first instance detention for health and security issues and then people are moved into the community arrangements.”