Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP supports Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021

22 February, 2021


I second the motion. I thank the member for Clark for introducing the Ending Indefinite and Arbitrary Immigration Detention Bill 2021, and I wholeheartedly welcome this opportunity to speak on this very important topic. We need to end indefinite and arbitrary detention of asylum seekers and refugees. As lawmakers in this place, it should be galling to all of us that this policy is, in fact, illegal under international law. So I strongly support both the end to the practice of indefinite detention and the Game Over campaign led by Craig Foster.

Over December and January we saw the release of 65 of the medevac refugees from hotel immigration detention, including two women; however, 120 medevac refugees, including eight women, remain in detention in Australian hotels. There are still around 230 refugees detained on Nauru and in PNG, and they have been there for more than seven years. It's impossible to fully comprehend that. Think back to where you were more than seven years ago, and think about how you would be coping with the idea that your life has been indefinitely in limbo—that there is no real avenue, that there is no change, that there is no movement—and you are stuck with no opportunity to live a life, to have a hope of being safe or being part of a community.

This bill puts an end to indefinite detention by imposing a maximum term that immigration detainees can be held without a court order, so it's an important safeguard for people coming to Australia searching for safety for them and their families. The Biloela family were embraced by their community, only to be torn away and thrown into indefinite detention on Christmas Island at huge costs. I call on the government to implement this legislation to end this torturous program and complete waste of money of indefinite detention immediately.