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Greens want broader detention inquiry

May 22nd, 2011 Australia

The Greens will only support a parliamentary inquiry into immigration detention if it looks at the problem of mandatory detention as a whole, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says.

“I am not interested in just allowing for an inquiry that ends up being a witch-hunt and simply propping up what is a failed and inhumane system,” the senator told reporters in Adelaide on Sunday.

“Any inquiry that would need to be considered by the Greens would have to look at the problems with mandatory detention as a whole.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison is calling for Greens support ahead of his push next week for an inquiry into Australia’s immigration detention network.

Mr Morrison said Labor’s failed policies had resulted in a rolling crisis in the national detention network which demanded parliamentary scrutiny.

Senator Hanson-Young said the coalition had a “bad track record” when it came to detention.

“Let’s not forget this is the party of children behind razor wire, this is the party that saw young people sew their lips together,” she said.

Senator Hanson-Young wants all parties to support an inquiry that would also consider the community release option for families.

“It is currently costing tax payers an absolute fortune, we need to make sure that any inquiry looks at costs and looks at how to save costs by moving people into the community when it is safe to do so,” she said.

She was asked if she worried the Greens might be seen as sinking an inquiry if they didn’t support the narrower draft terms of reference.

“No… I have been calling for a broad level of inquiry for quite some time now,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“Any inquiry needs to make sure it is not just tinkering about the edges, is not a witch-hunt led by the coalition, and instead is a practical and constructive part of the debate and ensures that we can come up with some.”

Mr Morrison said the inquiry, if supported by parliament, would inquire and report on the riots at Villawood and Christmas Island, and the expansion of the detention network.