From today, the new Border Force laws make it a crime for staff and contractors who work within Australia's immigration detention centres to speak out against wrong-doing, abuse and suffering.
The Australian Greens will move to amend this by reinstating the public interest test into these laws and pushing again for mandatory reporting of child abuse and harm when the Senate resumes in August.
"The truth is secrecy and isolation has allowed a culture of cover-up and abuse to breed inside Australia's refugee detention camps," Greens Immigration Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said today.
"I commend the actions of staff who continue to come forward and disclose what is really going on inside these detention camps. Without the courage of these individuals, the public and the Parliament would have no idea of the suffering experienced by children who are locked up.
"The Abbott Government wants to keep this abuse covered up. Billions in taxpayer dollars are spent on these camps and the Government doesn’t want anyone to know the truth about what goes on in Australia name.
"The Abbott Governments new laws that make it a crime, punishable by 2 years jail, for staff who work inside these camps to speak out when they see wrong-doing or harm are dangerous, short-sighted and immoral.
"We know that strong gag clauses in staff contracts have meant that workers are already discouraged and scared of reporting issues of child abuse, sexual assaults and poor treatment.
"Doctors, teachers, nurses and guards have all recently used the parliamentary privilege of the Senate Inquiry into Nauru to blow the whistle on how toxic and unsafe the Nauru camp is particularly for children and women.
"Last month the Government and the Labor Party voted down amendments to establish mandatory reporting of child abuse inside detention camps.
"From today, not only do we not have a requirement to report abuse and harm caused to children but in fact, it is now illegal for staff to do so. This is absurd.
"I will move the amendments again for mandatory reporting and for a public interest test for disclosure of information to apply to whistleblowers. I hope this time sense will prevail.”
These amendments have already been circulated to the Parliament and will be moved by Senator Hanson-Young to the Governments "Maintaining Good Order Bill" when it comes before the Senate in August.
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