January 11, 2014
Billionaire MP Clive Palmer says he wants to visit the Christmas Island detention centre to ensure the children of asylum seekers are not denied a happy childhood.
The leader of the Palmer United Party says the recent birth of his daughter Lucy has strengthened his view that children should not be kept behind bars.
“I have always believed that keeping children behind bars was wrong but the birth of my daughter Lucy last month has renewed my commitment to these kids,” he said in a statement.
“Whether they took this dangerous voyage with their parents, or were born in detention, every child deserves a safe and loving upbringing with a range of experiences, not just the inside of a cell or an exercise yard.”
Last year, a delegation of Palmer United Party federal election candidates visited the Christmas Island on a fact-finding mission.
Mr Palmer says visiting the detention centre is one of his New Year’s resolutions.
The mining magnate says he will write to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison seeking approval for the visit.
He says offshore processing – a policy supported by both the Coalition and Labor – has only “increased the pain and suffering of genuine asylum seekers”.
Mr Palmer supports allowing asylum seekers to fly to Australia and be quickly processed at airports.
Under his plan, it would be up to an asylum seeker to make their case that they are a genuine refugee.
If the applicant’s claims were rejected then they will be flown home, but if they are accepted Mr Palmer believes they should then be given access to welfare and allowed to work.