The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, says he is heartened by the release of all children from the Christmas Island detention centre following his party’s actions in creating major Migration Act concessions for asylum seekers.
Mr Palmer said the release of children from detention at Christmas Island was a win for the Palmer United Party, asylum seeker families and Australia as a whole.
He said the party wanted to see all children released, no matter where they are detained, as a matter of urgency.
“The Palmer United Party has been a staunch advocator for human rights particularly on the matters of asylum seeker policy and children in detention,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“We are very pleased to have played a key role in securing the release of children on Christmas Island by passing an amended Migration Act in the senate which led to the creation of Safe Haven Enterprise Visas allowing work and study rights for refugees, among other measures.
Mr Palmer said he had received several assurances from the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, after contacting him concerning allegations raised in Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) Forgotten Children report.
By late 2014 all children and families had been transferred from Christmas Island to the mainland and as at March this year there were 118 children held in detention according to Mr Dutton.
“The Government must do everything in its power to reduce this number to zero as soon as possible whilst protecting all detained children from abuse and ensuring all incidents are properly referred to relevant authorities,’’ Mr Palmer said.
Mr Palmer has welcomed the Department of Immigration’s request for an audit into all reportable incidents going back to 2008 and the establishment of a panel of eminent persons to examine the management of incidents involving children in detention.
Mr Palmer said he had always believed it was wrong to keep children behind bars.
“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,” he said.
Key achievements by the Palmer United Party on asylum seeker policy children include:
- Re-establishing Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs);
- Creating the new Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV), which is available for up to 5 years to those found to be refugees, and:
- allows them work and study rights,
- requires them to live and work in designated regions to fill regional job vacancies,
- allows them to apply for other on-shore visas such as family, skilled and student visas, after 3.5 years of not accessing welfare, and
- would not be subject to a capping of numbers by the Minister.
- Ensuring that Australia’s refugee intake will increase by 7,500 places;
- Ensuring that asylum seekers currently in Australia on bridging visas gain the right to work until their claims to refugee status are processed.