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‘Ghastly’ immigration centres slammed

Melissa Parke
ABC
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Federal Labor MP Melissa Parke is calling for the closure of offshore immigration detention centres if conditions for detainees cannot be improved.

Ms Parke will present a motion to the Labor caucus meeting in Canberra today, along with a petition signed by more than 250 notable Australians, including former immigration minister Ian McPhee.

Speaking to the ABC last year, in the wake of a similar motion, she described the offshore centres as “gulags”.

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“There’s been a further deterioration in conditions in the intervening 17 months,” Ms Parke said.

“We note that there are continuing credible reports of abuses, assaults, rapes and attempted suicides of asylum seekers and refugees.”

The motion is not expected to gain majority support from the caucus, though Ms Parke said the majority of Labor found the conditions unacceptable.

She also cited the United Nations’ criticism of Australia’s asylum seeker policies, given overnight during a session in Geneva.

“There’s a very strong group within the party that’s very opposed,” she said.

“I think it’s obvious to any fair-minded person that conditions on Nauru and Manus are ghastly.”

Ms Parke also criticised the “culture of secrecy” involved in immigration detention, echoing comment by shadow immigration minister Richard Marles in calling for greater transparency.

Speaking in the wake of unrest on Christmas Island, Mr Marles told the ABC on Monday that the Turnbull Government needed to reverse its “terrible” track record of transparency and confirm what was happening.

“There are people inside, we need to know that they are safe,” he said.

“This government doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to transparency around the running of the facilities.”

The facilities and policies have been defended to the UN overnight, with official Steve McGlynn saying strong borders had saved countless lives at sea.

“The ensuring substantial and sustained reduction in maritime ventures as a result of Australia’s managed approach to migration has resulted in Australia being able to settle more refugees for our humanitarian programs,” Mr McGlynn said.

-ABC

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