Senate Begins Inquiry into Malaysia Deal After Greens and Coalition Unite
Thursday, 18th August 2011 at 11:50 am
The Senate has agreed to send the Malaysia deal to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report back by September 22, 2011.
The inquiry comes after the Greens and the Coalition joined forces to push for the inquiry to examine all aspects of the deal, including its cost, legality and its social impact.
Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young says she welcomes the Senate's decision to refer the inhumane Malaysian people swap deal to an inquiry because it will finally give the Parliament the chance to scrutinise an arrangement which the government has refused to table.
Hanson-Young says there are so many questions about the deal which need answers, such as the role of the Immigration Minister who is the legal guardian of unaccompanied children and is meant to provide a duty of care to protect their best interests.
She says numerous human rights, health and legal experts in Australia and Malaysia have expressed their opposition to the deal, and the Greens hope they and others will make public submissions to the inquiry.
The Gillard Government's deal with Malaysia is currently on hold pending a High Court challenge and a recent Nielsen opinion poll says more than half those surveyed want asylum seekers be processed in Australia.
Last week Not for Profit organisations joined the public outcry against the Government’s decision to send refugees – and in particular unaccompanied minors – to Malaysia under a refugee swap deal.
Unlike Australia, Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN International Refugee Convention and a High Court legal challenge has resulted in a temporary reprieve for the first asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia under the deal.
Under the ‘swap’ deal signed in July, the government will send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia and in return will take 4000 processed refugees.
High Court judge Kenneth Hayne has extended an injunction delaying the deportation of aslyum seekers to Malaysia for at least two weeks.
Not for Profit welfare organisation Baptcare says it is appalled by the Government’s decision to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia when there are more humane solutions currently available and in operation.
Baptcare’s Chief Executive Jeff Davet says asylum seekers have the right to a dignified and peaceful life and there are other models in operation right now that can provide this outcome.