Wilkie seeks to abolish mandatory detention of asylum seekers

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has introduced legislation that would abolish mandatory detention of asylum seekers in favour of community-based alternatives.

Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie has used parliamentary privilege to reveal a spy-turned-whistleblower and his lawyer have been charged. Source: AAP

Asylum seekers must only be kept in detention in Australia for the shortest time humanly possible, independent MP Andrew Wilkie has told parliament.

The Tasmanian MP introduced a private member's bill on Monday as part of Refugee Week that would abolish mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees and provide community-based alternatives.

"There needs to be a new conversation about how we, as a civilised nation, respond to people genuinely fleeing for their lives, who have suffered unimaginable atrocities, and now need our help," he said.

The legislation would require all asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru be brought to Australia.

It would establish an "Asia Pacific Asylum Seeker Solution" framework, initiated by Australia in partnerships with other countries in the region.

Detention would be required to be lawful, necessary and proportionate, and subject to judicial review and regular independent monitoring.

Mr Wilkie said 12 people had died in Australian offshore detention and all their deaths were avoidable.

"It's never too late to right a wrong," he said.

Mr Wilkie's bill was supported by fellow independent Cathy McGowan who says the issue around asylum seekers is not one of national security, but of conscience, values and national identity.

"We have an alternative, we have a way ahead, we can do better and we are better," she said.

2 min read
Published 18 June 2018 at 11:18am