Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2496 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
majority of Australians are generous and compassionate people. Traditionally, most Australians have welcomed refugees, immigrants and visitors to this country with open arms. I challenge other members to deny that fact.
If we compare Australia's migrant and refugee programs with the programs of other countries, we see that Australia stacks up as a generous country. Most Australians are generous and traditionally welcome refugees. If most Australians support the federal government's policies, I caution those members who continually seek to attack them. Some members are using this motion as a baseball bat to attack the policies of the federal government. However, in doing that they are also having a crack at what most Australians believe to be sensible policies.
I deal now with the difficult issue of children in detention. We would like to see a change to the federal government's policies. The federal government should put in place a more workable program that enables children to be taken out of detention centres and put into some other form of accommodation. I do not know what is the answer to this problem but I am sure that all members would support such a move. I refer now to the Kosovars and Eritreans.
A few days ago I received news about an Eritrean family that I have been trying to help. A woman's two siblings were trapped in Sudan after travelling all the way across Eritrea and Ethiopia. They were in quite a difficult position. I took the case to DIMA, which was prepared to put people on the ground in that area to do something about it. It is pleasing when authorities take action in extreme cases such as this. I was pleased to see that action was taken in this case and that people did listen. On the issue of children in detention I refer to the Chief Minister's continual heckling in debate yesterday on the bill of rights. The Chief Minister misled the Assembly when he said that the opposition supports the jailing of-
MR TEMORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): The member's use of the word "misled"was uncalled for. The member should either rephrase his sentence or withdraw that imputation. That sort of thing should be done by way of substantive motion.
MR PRATT: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I bow to your wise counsel and withdraw that imputation. I simply point out that the Chief Minister was wrong in his assertion that opposition members support the jailing of children in detention camps. I would like the Chief Minister to take that on board and try to remember it in future. I commend the work of the ACT Refugee Council. It is doing excellent work with the Kosovo caseload and other refugees.
Mr Berry, in his earlier contribution, raised an interesting point relating to stress disorders in these camps. That is a real problem. It should not be forgotten that many people who have spent a long time in these detention camps and who have had their applications turned down a number of times are still going through the appeal process. It is sad that it has come to that. I would prefer it if all political parties got together and tried to sort out this wretched appeal process-a process that is abused by certain legal fraternities and activist groups.