Nauru? Nothing to see here, move along please… did we mention halal funds terrorism? Max Chalmers reports.Coalition senators have rejected a further investigation into the Australian backed detention centre on Nauru as a “waste of Senate and Government resources”, despite their government previously launching extensive investigations canvassing the health impacts of wind farms and whether food certification processes such as halal fund terrorism.
After a more than five month long Inquiry, a Senate Committee looking at conditions in the Nauruan detention centre – which still holds 655 people, including 88 children – yesterday handed down its final report, with Labor and Greens members recommending children be released from the facility, oversight be greatly increased, and a second inquiry be undertaken by the Senate.
In their own dissenting report, Coalition members rejected 12 of the recommendations outright, while saying they backed the ‘intent’ or ‘principle’ of the remaining three.
Included in the recommendations rejected by the Coalition were calls from the rest of the Committee to:
- Allow asylum seekers in the centre the right to lodge complaints with the Immigration Ombudsman, Australian Human Rights Commission, or International Committee of the Red Cross
- Allow the Human Rights Commission and the media access to the detention centre
- Provide greater transparency about government expenditure on the centre
- Commit to removing children from the centre “as soon as possible”
- Convene a new Inquiry into the detention centre to report at the end of 2016
Coalition Senators derided the recommendations as “redundant”.
In response to calls for the timely release of children the Coalition senators said the process of expanding open centre arrangements on Nauru were already underway.
“Additionally, the ongoing hand-down of refugee determinations as outlined in Recommendation 2, is ongoing, as is the construction of additional community infrastructure to support both children and parents, found to be refugees,” the wrote.
The Inquiry led to revelations that Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (pictured below) was spied on during a trip to Nauru and that abuse has continued in the centre since the Moss Review, also airing allegations of practices tantamount to torture taking place, guards paying asylum seekers for sex and sharing recordings of the incidents, and staff being warned not to take part in external human rights probes.
Coalition Senators dismissed the significance of the Inquiry and said a follow-up would be a waste of resources.
“No new issues, substantiated by evidence, have arisen in the course of this inquiry that cannot be addressed by the multiple complaint and oversight organisations that currently exist,” they wrote.
Those concerns will come as somewhat of a surprise to Muslim Australians and those working in the renewable energy sector given the other inquiries the Coalition has been willing to back in the senate.
An Inquiry ostensibly into food certification pushed by Senator Cory Bernardi has focused heavily on halal certification – a pet issue for the senator – and has unleashed a wave of bizarre submissions from members of the public angry but not particularly informed about the process.
While Bernardi and fellow MP George Christensen have both played into fears about halal certification, their inquiry has unearthed nothing other than reassurances from government departments that the process is vital to Australian exports.
Another pet Coalition past-time, the denigration of renewable energy, was recently aided by an inquiry into wind farms.
The Inquiry heard expert testimony there was no significant evidence that living close to wind farms led to bad health.
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