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22.12.17

reply from Tanya Plibersek Labor to letter sent 13 August 2017 - another death on Manus Island



From: Plibersek, Tanya (MP)
Sent: Friday, December 22, 2017 12:37 PM
To: 'Mike'
Subject: RE: Another death on Manus Island

Dear Mike

I want to thank you for contacting me about refugee policy, and in particular the current situation on Manus Island. Let me also apologise for taking so long to get back to you. During this busy time I have been receiving a large volume of emails and while I am able to read them all and note the issues raised, I am not always able to respond as promptly as I would like. 

I too am deeply concerned about the situation on Manus Island. It is completely unacceptable and the government has completely failed these refugees and asylum seekers. Under the Liberals, there have been delays, chaos, and secrecy. The generous offer from New Zealand has been on the table for three years now.  Mr Turnbull should accept it. 

I have publicly stated my concern that the government should respond to the increasing tension following the closure of the Regional Processing Centre, and act urgently to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus. Instead of taking responsibility, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is blaming refugees and their advocates. Malcolm Turnbull must step in to ensure refugees have immediate access to essential services – including security, health and welfare services - and safe resettlement. 

The Turnbull government has been woefully incompetent in finding new permanent homes for refugees. 

In government Labor had initiated a proper regional resettlement system which would have begun with asylum seekers living and working in Malaysia, with their children going to school and with proper health care, and Australia taking more refugees from the region. The Liberals prevented that from happening.

The people on Manus and Nauru have been in limbo for far too long. Manus Island and Nauru were set up as temporary transit facilities, but have become places of indefinite detention because of the failure of the Turnbull government to negotiate third country resettlement options. 

I'm also very concerned about the local community on Manus Island. Tensions are on the rise, including because of the lack of consultation prior to the proposed movement of refugees and asylum seekers. It is worrying that UNHCR representatives say that facilities for the men within the local community are still under construction, do not have water or electricity connected and have limited capacity. This puts great pressure on the local community.

I have recently released a statement calling on Peter Dutton to answer very serious questions about new reports asylum seekers and refugees in Nauru have had medical treatment and transfers delayed by bureaucracy, including patients with breast lumps, kidney stones and neurological damage. These are serious allegations that cannot go unanswered.

It was Labor that established a Senate Inquiry into serious allegations of abuse, self-harm and neglect of asylum seekers in relation to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, and any like allegations in relation to the Manus Regional Processing Centre. The Senate Committee report is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/NauruandManusRPCs

The government continues to refuse to accept recommendations from this inquiry.

Labor is committed to policies that would provide better protection to those who are seeking asylum. I have attached more information about Labor’s policies below.

Thank you again for getting in touch with me. I will continue to call on the Government to act to offer immediate protection and safe resettlement to refugees who have sought our protection.

Yours sincerely


Tanya


Transcripts of my recent interviews and releases are available here 

Attachment A

In Government, Labor will:
•           Support independent oversight of Australian-funded processing facilities; 
•           Establish a children’s advocate to create a strong voice within government, independent of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and backed by administrative resources and statutory powers to advocate for the interests of children seeking asylum and work to have children out of detention;
•           Legislate to impose mandatory reporting of any child abuse in all facilities. There should be absolutely no doubt that staff, including medical contractors working in these facilities, not only have the freedom to report abuse, but have a legal obligation to do so; and
•           Ensure that people working in the immigration system can safely speak out about abuse, maladministration and corruption. 

Labor’s policy is to make sure that refugee claims are processed quickly and fairly. We would restore access to the Refugee Review Tribunal, and re-instate the ‘90-day rule’ for reporting on the progress of refugee claims. 

Labor will also abolish Temporary Protection Visas which currently keep people in an unfair permanent state of limbo, and place those people found to be refugees on permanent protection visas. 

Last election, Labor announced a commitment to do more to address the global humanitarian crisis.  This included increasing Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake to 27,000 per year by 2025 with a portion of the program dedicated to resettling refugees from the region.

At a time when the global humanitarian need is greater than ever, Labor also committed to providing $450 million over three years to support the important work of the UNHCR.

Labor will restore references to the UN Refugee Convention in the Migration Act and take a leadership role within South East Asia and the Pacific to build a regional humanitarian framework for asylum seekers. This will include supporting the UNHCR in providing health and education services to asylum seekers and advocating for work rights for asylum seekers.



From: Mike [mailto:mandm.griffin2@bigpond.com]
Sent: Sunday, 13 August 2017 6:51 PM
To: Neumann, Shayne (MP)
Cc: Plibersek, Tanya (MP)
Subject: Another death on Manus Island

Dear Mr Neumann,
Earlier this month we learned of yet another death of an asylum seeker on Manus Island. Hamid Shamshiripoor was just 31 years old, and had spent more than three years on Manus Island as a result of the Labor government’s pronouncement four years ago that no asylum seekers arriving by boat would ever be resettled in Australia. It is not clear whether or not this poor young man, who was entitled to our protection, was murdered or committed suicide.  No matter, he is now dead.
We do know that he had serious mental health problems.
We do know that his fellow detainees pleaded in writing to the authorities in the detention centre  for Hamid to receive treatment for his illness.
We do know that, instead of receiving treatment, Hamid was often imprisoned , bashed, moved around, and was finally homeless.
We do know that his case was referred to the Australian Border Force’s chief medical officer some twelve months ago.
We do know that he did not receive the care that he needed, and that he was entitled to.
We do know that nobody in authority cares. And that includes your Party.
And we do know that the Labor party, and you in particular, remains silent about these gross abuses of the human rights of refugees, for purely political purposes.
When will the Labor party rediscover its heart, it’s soul and its principles? The party that I belonged to for more than 30 years cared about the vulnerable, the underprivileged, and about those in need. Not any more. 
Mike Griffin
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