Dissenting report from Government Senators
Government members of the committee note that the committee majority's
interim report ('the interim report') of the inquiry into the conditions and
treatment of asylum seekers and refugees at the Regional Processing Centres in
the Republic of Nauru and Papua New Guinea ('the inquiry') is not an
authoritative or factual account of the inquiry. By its own admission at
paragraph 1.5 the evidence provided to the committee thus far has not been
tested: no public hearings have been conducted.
A significant portion of the evidence presented to the inquiry has come
from parties that have submitted to previous inquiries, and largely mirrors the
content—and conclusions—of those previous reports. The interim report itself
acknowledges at paragraph 1.14 that the evidence provided to the inquiry
reflects 'the view previously placed on the record by many...'.
The inquiry is being effectively concluded some six months prior to its
scheduled reporting date. Government Senators are of the view that in light of
the incomplete nature of the examination of evidence to date, no reliable
conclusions can be drawn nor recommendations made in this inquiry. Government
Senators also note that the evidence of the department is footnoted eleven
times and the evidence—and legal advice—of law students is presented at
paragraph 1.19 and footnoted ten times. The interim report would appear to be
giving equal weight to the evidence of students, and the evidence of the
department. Government Senators would hope that if this subject matter comes
before the Senate in the future that a more balanced approach is taken.
The interim report's single recommendation is that, due to the
incomplete nature of the inquiry, this same inquiry subject be referred to the
Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee in the 45th
Parliament. Government Senators disagree with this recommendation and instead
recommend that examination of Australia's border protection activities be
referred to the more reliable and cost-effective forum of Senate Estimates.
Senator the Hon
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