News National Senate may compel Manus staff to detail riot

Senate may compel Manus staff to detail riot

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Manus Island detention centre staff will get a chance to publicly provide first-hand evidence of a riot that left an Iranian asylum seeker dead.

The Australian Greens are expected to get Labor support on Monday to set up a Senate inquiry into the events of February 16-18 on the Papua New Guinea island where Australia operates the facility.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the inquiry would have the independence that an immigration department review into the incident lacked.

“Senate inquiry hearings will give the workers who were in the centre on that night the legal protection that they need to tell their stories freely,” she said.

“The fact is that a young man who was in Australia’s care has been killed and we should have a rigorous, independent inquiry to find out what happened.”

Iranian man Reza Berati, 23, died and 62 others were injured in the clash.

A preliminary PNG police report suggested Mr Berati was killed by repeated blows with a plank of wood to the head.

It’s also suggested locals and PNG police were allowed into the detention centre by private security operators.

The terms of reference for the inquiry cover the sequence of events that led to Berati’s death, the involvement of contractors and other service providers, the immigration department’s response, the immigration minister’s conduct and resettlement arrangements in PNG.

The government has described the death as tragic, but stands by its offshore processing policy and Operation Sovereign Borders, which address the flow of asylum seeker boats and people-smuggling.

Climate business up first

The Senate’s first order of business on Monday will be resuming debate on abolishing the Climate Change Authority and the carbon tax.

Labor and the Greens continue to oppose the bills.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt will move in the lower house on Monday a motion calling on the Senate to pass the bills noting that it affected 75,000 businesses, with 348 companies paying $6.6 billion in direct emissions liabilities.

DLP senator John Madigan will seek Senate support for an inquiry into changing the Constitution to confirm all powers relating to marriage rest with the Commonwealth and that those powers may only be used to confirm marriage to be between a man and a woman.

The House and the Senate will sit from Monday to Thursday.