Tony Abbott labels Human Rights Commission report into children in detention 'blatantly partisan politicised exercise' - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Tony Abbott labels Human Rights Commission report into children in detention 'blatantly partisan politicised exercise'

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has attacked the Human Rights Commission (HRC) over its damning report into children in immigration detention, saying it should be ashamed of itself for conducting "a blatantly partisan politicised exercise".

The HRC report, titled The Forgotten Children, has found immigration detention is a "dangerous place for children" and has called for a royal commission into the practice of putting asylum seeker children into mandatory detention.

From January 2013 to March 2014 the HRC found there were 233 assaults in detention involving children, 33 incidents of reported sexual assault, with the majority involving children, and 128 children who harmed themselves.

Some 330 children remain in indefinite detention and more than 167 babies have been born in detention within the last two years.

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Audio: Government questions HRC's motivation (AM)

But Mr Abbott has told Parliament the Government will not set up a Royal Commission into the issue, telling the Opposition he was doing it a favour.

What is the Human Rights Commission?

  • Set up in December 1986 as Australia's national human rights watchdog
  • Has the authority to investigate possible breaches of federal human rights and anti-discrimination laws
  • Operates independently from the Federal Government
  • President Gillian Triggs is a former barrister who was appointed to the job in 2012

"There won't be a Royal Commission into children in detention, because if there were a Royal Commission into children in detention, it would condemn them," he said of the former ALP government.

"It would condemn them. Madam Speaker, frankly, they stand condemned already."

Earlier he had said he felt no guilt "whatsoever" about holding children in detention.

And he questioned why the HRC did not launch an inquiry when the previous Labor government was in power and the number of children in detention reached a peak of almost 2,000.

"Where was the Human Rights Commission when hundreds of people were drowing at sea?" he said on Macquarie Radio.

"Where was the Human Rights Commission when there were almost 2,000 children in detention?

"This is a blatantly partisan politicised exercise and the Human Rights Commission ought to be ashamed of itself."

Triggs 'totally' rejects suggestions of bias

HRC president Gillian Triggs "totally" rejected the suggestion the report was biased and said both sides of politics are responsible for breaches of Australia's international obligations.

"The commission is doing its job, we are doing our job under our statute and according to the law that underpins our work," she said this morning.

"This is not a politicised exercise. It is a fair-minded report.

"The evidence on which we rely is evidence which covers the period of the former government as well as the nearly 18 months of the current Government.

"The facts frankly speak for themselves."

In the report, Professor Triggs said she made the decision to hold the inquiry last February because the release of children had slowed down over the first six months of the new Coalition Government.

The report has made 16 recommendations, including calling for all children and families currently in detention in Australia and Nauru to be released into the community within the next four weeks.

It also wants the immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island closed, an end to indefinite detention, and an independent person to replace the Immigration Minister as guardian for unaccompanied children.

Mr Abbott said "of course" he wanted to release the children from detention but said "the only way to ensure we don't have children in immigration detention is not to have any boats".

He said the Commission should be praising former immigration minister Scott Morrison for stopping the boats.

"I reckon that the HRC ought to be sending a note of congratulations to Scott Morrison saying 'well done mate.. because your actions have been very good for the human rights and the human flourishing of thousands of people'," he said.

Mr Morrison, who was immigration minister until last December, cast doubt on some of the report's findings.

"I don't think we should go to the point of calling it evidence," he told the ABC's AM program.

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Audio: Morrison casts doubt on report's findings (AM)

"The report contains many allegations and these allegations particularly in relations to issue of abuse, these are things which are routinely referred to the authorities because they relate to potential crimes."

Current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton indicated this morning that a royal commission was unlikely.

He said the Government had long-standing, fundamental differences with Professor Triggs, but said there was no political witch hunt.

"I'm not going to be lectured to by people who want to misinterpret the current situation," he told Radio National this morning.

"We can release children from the detention centres now and let me tell you, the boats start up again, the detention centres will be reoccupied and that is not something that we are going to tolerate."

'An awful culture of institutionalised child abuse': Hanson-Young

The Greens backed the HRC's call for a royal commission, with spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young saying the report "unveils an awful culture of institutionalised child abuse".

"We saw, a decade ago, a very similar report, which talked about the damning effects of detention on children and we had politicians blame each other and saying no one wanted to see children in detention, and yet fast forward 10 years on, 15 years on, it's all happening all over again.

Obviously things need to be done better so that kids can be taken out of this situation as quickly as is practicable.

Labor immigration spokesman Richard Marles

"A royal commission is absolutely warranted."

Labor's immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the Federal Opposition would not respond to the specific recommendations until it had properly considered the report, but he said it was clear changes were needed.

"I think what comes from this report is a sense that the system can be improved, it needs to be improved, obviously things need to be done better so that kids can be taken out of this situation as quickly as is practicable," Mr Marles told AM.

But Mr Marles said the confronting sections in the report, detailing the distress of children sent to immigration detention on Nauru, would not cause Labor to abandon its policy of sending all asylum seekers who arrive by boat offshore.

"Offshore processing is playing a vital role in seeing an end to the deaths at sea, and that is obviously a good thing," he said.

National Inquiry Into Children in Immigration Detention
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Topics: immigration, government-and-politics, federal-government, community-and-society, law-crime-and-justice, rights, human, australia, cambodia, papua-new-guinea, nauru

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rodin

12:58 PM on 12/02/2015

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If PM Abbott claims the independent HRC call for a Royal Commission is blatantly partisan and politicised, what does PM Abbott regard his two Royal Commissions into Unions and Pink Batts which attacked Ex-labor PMs Gillard & Rudd?
I'm sticking with Abbott because he's bi-partisan.


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fossilosopher

12:55 PM on 12/02/2015

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The next step is for this report to be forwarded to the International Criminal Court for charges. Naturally, any verdict will be ignored by Canberra but at least it could lead to Australia being denied seats on UN councils and commissions, and if we're lucky, we get kicked out of the G20 for egregious human rights abuses.


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pq2077

12:54 PM on 12/02/2015

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That is why you never have any problems when the Liberals are in charge. If they are found to be wrong, it is clearly the partiality of the investigator. If the wrong is not investigated, it is the fault of Labor. Under the Liberals the Lost Generation was just some minor mistake and indigenous people can forget about their land rights.

Tony Abbott will be appointing all judges in future so that no court will find illegality of Liberal's actions. Campbell Newman tried it but people would not permit that level of corruption.


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lovelybunchofcoconuts

12:53 PM on 12/02/2015

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*sigh*

It's not all about you Tony.

Pack up your bags and shove off. You have no idea what you're doing.

Oh and hold the door open for your clueless mates Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison as they follow you out please.


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themongrel

12:51 PM on 12/02/2015

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Boats have not stopped, but they have been diverted, so they are not landing in Australia. As to proper and accurate figures, who really knows, we have to rely on the media, both foreign and local, but we do see coverage showing boats still leaving. I will concede that a percentage seeking asylum are freeloaders, but a larger proportion genuinely want to escape from constant fear and persecution. Innocent children should not be incarcerated while parents are assessed, kids have had no choice. The Human Rights Commission is spot on. Abbott and his gang of bigots are living in the days of the White Australia Policy.


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onechild

12:48 PM on 12/02/2015

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Its all LABORS FAULT. BTW anybody notice unemployment has risen. ITS ALL LABORS FAULT. I abused of my own backbenchers for having the hide to bring up the topic of "broken promises" at a dinner and used foul language (as good Prime Ministers do to their own party). Its ALL LABORS FAULT. Ho HUm.


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jackmeadows

12:48 PM on 12/02/2015

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What sort of country have we become? What sort of ministers are they? ... Bloody twisted and heartless

"Sadly, while the case does represent a substantial slap-down of former immigration minister Scott Morrison's Orwellian approach to refugee questions, it mostly illustrates the losing battle that our traditional notions of the rule of law are fighting against both major parties' determination to keep legislating away asylum seekers' rights until we've reduced them legally to the status of human trash (which most Australian voters seem to believe they already are).

In short, the plaintiff in this case is the lucky exception - he got in just before the gate was bolted shut."
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-12/bradley-high-court-refugee-ruling-the-lucky-exception/6086612


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possum belle

12:47 PM on 12/02/2015

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The Human Rights Commissioner of the UN in 2012 mandated our Government to justify serious violations to women and children in Australia, particularly in regard to the economic changes made to further impoverish women and children of sole parent families.

This was ignored by the Government.

If a Labor Government ignores such, then it is hardly surprising that a man like Abbott or the LNP as a whole would ever directly and effectually address this refugee situation.

In this area it seems that although there are problems associated with the Greens being in leadership, they are the only party willing to address these matters. They are the only ones who have spoken out about our penchant to follow America's criminal foreign policy.


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unclearthur1966

12:42 PM on 12/02/2015

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Heres my Report

2007 - 0.0 Boat arrivals. 0.0 in offshore detention.

End of Report


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rsai

12:42 PM on 12/02/2015

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As an Australian, I support our
honorable PM on making sure our
border protection policies are
working.

However, as an Australian, I find
it as unacceptable form to detain
children.

This has nothing to do with what
Labor or Liberals did.

Kindly post a Reply "YES" if
You agree. Many thanks and
Much Appreciated

Many thanks.
Rsai


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rangelo

12:42 PM on 12/02/2015

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The irony of Mr Abbott saying that the report is a "blatantly partisan politicised exercise" isn't lost on most Australians. We remember his time as leader of the opposition when every issue was opposed blatantly along his party's line. Inhumanity is inhumanity and neither party can claim the high ground on how the refugees are being treated.


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john_q

12:38 PM on 12/02/2015

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A whole bunch of comments seems to have been disappeared, shame on the ABC for running such a blatantly partisan one sided forum and for forgetting its charter.


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snidelysnodgrass

12:31 PM on 12/02/2015

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This is a government in meltdown and according to them nothing is their fault and according to those who still support them nothing is their fault, never has been and nor will it ever be. Talk about the blind leading the blind.


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davidjohn

12:30 PM on 12/02/2015

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Oh dear. What did the man say about change?? To accuse the Human Rights Commission of bias in favour of children, for goodness sake. How long will it take for the party to wake up and rid itself of this pontificial twit.


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andy63

12:28 PM on 12/02/2015

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The government has stopped the boats. Nothing else matters to them.


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cruising

12:27 PM on 12/02/2015

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Die-hard Liberal fanatics & their short memory. It was benevolent statesmen like Gough Whitlam who made a huge difference in relation to a humanistic response to immigration & foreign relations, that gave you massive trade opportunities with China. Without Gough you'd still be scrambling on all fours begging for a few crumbs!


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coco50

12:27 PM on 12/02/2015

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So - with his bosom full of Catholic compassion, Abbott agrees that it is all right to keep very young children in immigration detention! This moron is a disgrace to the nation and to humankind. Fancy trying to score political points by calling this report: "a blatantly partisan politicised exercise".

I saw his foreign minister on News 24 addressing parliament this a.m. making a passionate plea to the Indonesian government to spare the lives of two drug smugglers. That is fine, but who, in the Coalition, makes a plea for the children?


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murraylad

12:25 PM on 12/02/2015

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I credit watching "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" with the healthy amount of cynicism I have for all politics based on the Westminster system. And although it was a television series made in the 1980s there is an uncanny timelessness about it! I do recall one of the strategies explained was as follows: when a report comes out with data that you cannot refute, then you should go try to discredit the person/organisation who authored the report. And that is precisely what has happened here. Shame, Mr. Abbott. Shame!


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sinti

12:23 PM on 12/02/2015

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Australia as a whole should be ashamed that we even needed a Human rights commission report,because of what we have become and done by consent,some by demand or being silent and looking the other way.
TA's comments are as despicable as it can get.
Attacking the human rights commission like a Banana republic despot...
Tens of thousands of people 'not' in the streets demanding change from both major parties to stop this right wing nonsense is telling of our moral standards and decline as a peoples.

 

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