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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Question QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE Asylum Seekers: Children Wednesday, 14 October 2015 Clive Palmer – Member for Fairfax Responder Dutton, Peter, MP Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (14:23): I have a question for the Prime Minister. No government is so evil that it cannot see the virtue of children. Failure to report sexual abuse used to be a crime. Why are doctors prevented under the government’s laws from exposing and reporting the sexual and mental abuse of children? Which one of the honourable members of your government would allow their children to suffer such mistreatment? Which one of us would allow our children or grandchildren to be treated as the government treats children in detention? Why is the government imprisoning and radicalising little children at taxpayers’ expense? Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:24): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is very serious issue that he raises. He makes reference to a bill that was introduced in the past by this parliament in relation to protecting information that is, in particular, related to intelligence that we receive from our five eyes partners and others that is of a sensitive nature and may be accessed within our department. We have brought in an act that prohibits people from releasing that information—that is, information of a secret nature. That is the gist of the bill. The assertion that the honourable member makes in relation to there being some provision within the act to stop doctors or others from reporting these incidents is completely false and incorrect. There is an obligation on people working— either those who are employed or contracted here within Australian detention centres or on Nauru— to report those incidents to the police, as they should. I have instructed my department to make sure that we can do all we can to provide a safe environment. We have, of course, decreased the number of children in detention from 2,000 when Labor was in government down now to less than 100. In fact, the number today stands at 97. Of the 97, 80 of those children are due to go back to Nauru at some point. They have come down because their parents, or the children themselves, have needed medical assistance, and they will return to Nauru. So that leaves 17 children in detention here in Australia —those that have come here by boat. We are working with those parents and with the agencies, including a ASIO, to determine how we might how we might get those children out. It is difficult in a number of circumstances because there may be an adverse ASIO assessment against the father, for example, and I have made it very clear that that father will not be released into the community whilst that person poses a national security risk to our country. I think all members in this place would support that stance. In those instances, I have said to the mother, for example, that we will allow her release with the children into the community because we do not have a security concern in relation to them. In some circumstances those parents have taken the decision that the mother and children can be released, and in some circumstances they have decided to remain in detention with the father. We will work through each of those cases. When John Howard left office in 2007 there were no children in detention. As I say, the number peaked at 2000. It is now down to 97. I want to work that number down to zero, but we have to provide a compassionate system to provide support and we will do that. The most important aspect is to make sure that we do not allow the boats to restart, because I do not want detention centres to reopen as they did during Labor’s time in government. 154 The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia


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