Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett has welcomed the end to detaining refugees on Nauru, but has called on the federal government to amend the Migration Act to prevent similar actions being done in the future.
In the six years that the Nauru detention centres operated, Senator Bartlett was the only Senator to go to the centres, making four visits over four years to meet with refugees and examine conditions.
“The Nauru detention centres will remain a brutal part of Australia’s chequered history towards refugees and migrants. Immense suffering was caused to many hundreds of men women and children as direct and deliberate action of government,” Senator Bartlett said.
“The Labor government must be congratulated for putting an end to this abomination. However, they should also act swiftly to amend the Migration Act to prevent any future resumption of offshore processing of refugees in any location outside Australia.”
“The Democrats opposed the Pacific Solution and have put legislation before the Senate to reverse the legal changes that made it possible. If Labor is genuine in never wanting to see the Pacific Solution resumed, they should amend the Migration Act.”
Senator Bartlett also called on greater economic support to be provided to the people of Nauru, whose economy is in an extremely parlous state.
“Australia cannot just walk away and leave Nauru to its fate. That nation is facing huge long-term problems and we need to be there providing substantial ongoing support.”
“As well as financial and governance assistance, I urge the federal government to consider allowing all Nauruans to be able to have work rights in Australia.”
“There have been many calls from academics and business groups, as well as many Pacific Island nations, for more opportunity for unskilled and seasonal workers from the Pacific to be allowed into Australia.”
“Nauru would be well suited to trial a seasonal worker scheme or even an ‘open door’ arrangement such as we currently have with New Zealand. Australia’s historic and ongoing links to Nauru, and the small number of people that would be involved, means this could be trialled with minimal economic or social risk,” Senator Bartlett concluded.