Senate Pressures Coalition To Reveal Nauru Investigation


The Coalition is facing growing pressure to disclose the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault in the offshore immigration detention centre on Nauru as it continues to sit on two separate asylum seeker reviews, one into the practice of detaining children, the other into the death of a man on Manus Island.

On its second day of sitting for 2015, the Senate assented to a Greens motion calling for the government to release the ‘Moss Review’, a Department review commissioned in 2014 by then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

The review was announced in October last year after weeks of reports indicating a woman had suffered a serious sexual assault in the centre.

Former Integrity Commissioner Philip Moss was commissioned to head the review, which was tasked with assessing “claims of sexual and other physical assault of transferees” as well as allegations that service providers had coached self-harm.

Philip Moss

While the government has consistently made such allegations they have never been proven.

New Matilda understands that submission to the review closed in December, and that a series of interviews with asylum seekers still held in detention have taken place. However, those who made submissions to the review have not been told when, if ever, its results will be made public.

Included in the groups who made submissions was the, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer of the Taskforce, told New Matilda the organisation became involved in the process because it had a “high degree of faith and trust” in the integrity of Moss.

“We were given evidence of serious sexual assaults, a rape and a cover-up, that we passed on to the Department, the PM and the President of Nauru, and on that basis we were invited by Mr Moss to make a submission, which we did,” Coleman said.

“It appeared that there was an intention by Mr Moss to do the review with a high degree of integrity. Whether he was enabled to do that I can’t say at this point – it’s impossible to say until the report has been made public.”

Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it was time for the Australian people to be told what was really going on in the Nauru camp.

"The secretive Abbott government wants the abuse on Nauru to be swept under the carpet," Hanson-Young said in a media release.

"The Senate has spoken and, with the support of Labor and the cross benchers, the Greens will force this report into the public.”

"The situation on Nauru is critical and, instead of acting, the Abbott government is hiding this crucial review.”

"Accusations of abuse, rape and beatings are extremely serious and this report must be released in full."

Hanson-Young’s motion, calling on the Coalition to table the report to the Senate by 3pm on Wednesday passed ‘on the voices’, but was opposed by the Coalition.

“This report was commissioned by the department for the department, and the government will not be supporting this motion,” Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield said.

In January New Matilda revealed that a medical report into the death of asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei on Manus Island had not been made public, despite the fact it had been submitted to a Queensland Coronial Inquiry into the death.

Another greatly anticipated report – based on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Children (AHRC) in Detention Inquiry – is also yet to be revealed, but expected to be tabled later today.

The Coalition received the report in 2014 and had 15 sitting days to table the document, expected to be heavily critical of both Coalition and Labor detention policies.

Today is the last day the Coalition has to table the report, which it is legally obliged to do.

In the intervening period the government has savaged the AHRC President Gillian Triggs over the timing of the Inquiry and an unrelated Commission investigation, despite senior legal academics weighing in to defend Triggs.

Comment has been sought from the Department of Immigration.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.