A possie in Aussie

June 25, 2009

How much do they owe us for tormenting them?

“Do we charge drug dealers? Serial paedophiles? Sadistic murderers? Multiple rapists the cost of their detention?”

Coalition MP Petro Georgiou asked these questions of federal parliament yesterday, in a speech on the proposed legislation to drop the invoices for torment given to asylum seekers.

“The charging of people who arrive on our shores seeking protection, the cost of their detention is part of the way in which we have demonised them and presented them as being worse than criminals.” ‘Dark chapter’: Georgiou to cross floor on asylum bill

Mr Georgiou is one of the few MPs who stood up to John Howard over the treatment of asylum seekers, in what he calls the ‘dark chapter in our history’.

While he named the Keating Labor government for introducing the measure, he acknowledged that under his party treatment of asylum seekers and conditions of detention became much harsher. Do we still need to worry about immigration detention?

He was close to tears when he recalled that the party had endorsed the policies with no resistance.

“It cannot and it should not be denied that we did go along, we all did,” he said.

“The votes from the Parliament shows. Going along had its consequences.

“Vulnerable men, women and children were harmed by the legislation we voted for and by the practices and abuses they’ve spawned.”

The quietly spoken MP says detention bills often become another form of torture.

“This dark chapter is about the incarceration of men, women and children behind razor wire in isolated locations,” Mr Georgiou said.

“It is about the imprisonment of innocent people for periods longer than criminals convicted of serious felonies.

“It is about the demonisation of people fleeing persecution. It is about the denial of psychiatric attention to sick people to whom the Government owed a duty of care.

“No advanced society should allow on its statutes a law that so degrades and humiliates fellow human beings who are legitimately calling on our protection.

“We have an obligation to our own and to future generations to support this bill. I will support the bill and I commend it to the House.”

From 2006 to 2008, detainees were billed $54 million but the Commonwealth recovered less than $2 million. Charging people for locking them up

The Opposition’s immigration spokeswoman, Sharman Stone, says that revoking the fees will bring more boatloads of asylum seekers. Cutting detention fees makes us ‘soft touch’

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