The Australian Greens are demanding to know how many children will be held in “prison-like” detention centres following next weekend’s federal election.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has committed to reopening the Nauru processing facility but he has not revealed what that would cost – in dollar or human terms.
“We really need to know directly from the leader of the opposition and the prime minister how many children will be held in detention in their new government and under their administrations,” Senator Hanson-Young told AAP on Sunday.
“As of today there’s 700 children held in detention centres around Australia, including Christmas Island, and we need to know both from Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard how many children their Nauru and other offshore processing centre, how many children will be held in these facilities.
“They need to be upfront with the Australian people that this is the type of regime they’re promoting and are being prepared to spend public dollars on.”
Senator Hanson-Young said Australian had been condemned internationally for detaining children and it should stop immediately.
“Yes, of course we need to do people’s health and security checks but detaining children simply because we haven’t processed their claims yet is not appropriate,” she said.
“People don’t need to be detained in prison-like environments in detention camps.
“If Australia wanted to do the right thing, we would be setting up local, regionally based reception centres on the Australian mainland.”
She said these should not be prison-like facilities and people’s claims should be processed quickly so they are not being held long term.