Democrats’ Immigration spokesperson Andrew Bartlett has welcomed the Australian government’s official recognition of the refugee status of 72 Sri Lankans who were removed to Nauru earlier this year, but says it is unacceptable that the government intends to leave them detained indefinitely on Nauru.
Senator Bartlett visited the refugees in Nauru in April this year during his fourth visit to the detention facilities there, and has received regular communication from them since.
“We know from past experience that our government is prepared to keep these refugees stuck on Nauru for years, causing great personal harm to them, when we know the vast majority of them will end up in Australia anyway.”
“Why should taxpayers pay millions of dollars to keep innocent, persecuted people locked up – potentially for years – for people who will almost certainly end up in Australia anyway?”
“I have no problem with people being resettled elsewhere if the option is readily available. But the Australian government has already had six months to sound out other countries about possible resettlement places.”
“Australians should be very concerned that we have a government who is prepared to inflict harm on vulnerable innocent people in an attempt at political point scoring, while the taxpayer picks up the cost.
“There is nothing tough about persecuting vulnerable people.”
“Delaying the settlement of these refugees in Australia will also make their eventual settlement more difficult and expensive, and will cost the taxpayer even more in the future.