Adjournment: Release the Park Hotel refugees
On Tuesday 8 February 2022, I asked the Victorian Government to advocate to release the refugees held in detention at the Park Hotel in Carlton.
Right now there are 14 men being held against their will in small rooms at the Park Hotel, not very far from this place. They are part of a group of people who have sought asylum in Australia because they fled torture and persecution in their homelands. They were held on the prison islands of Manus and Nauru in offshore immigration detention camps for years, until many of them got very sick. They were evacuated to the mainland for treatment, much to the disappointment of the federal Liberal government, who have tried everything to punish these people at every given opportunity. They want to make an example of them, the government says, but all they are succeeding in doing is making an example of how truly cruel and heartless the Liberals are.
At the time when the community were pleading for these people seeking refuge to remain in Australia after receiving medical care rather than be returned to the offshore camps, just over six years ago to the day, the Premier wrote to the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and offered to give the 267 asylum seekers, who by then had been brought to Australia for treatment, a home in Victoria. But the Premier and this government have been silent since.
Just last month, when the Park Hotel refugees shared their prison with an extremely high-profile detainee, the eyes of the world were on the Park Hotel, and with it came international attention on our inhumane refugee policy. But our fears that once the cameras moved on people would forget the remaining detainees are being realised. That is why is so important that we all do everything that we can to keep a spotlight on the plight of these men and work for their freedom. That means using all our platforms, all our resources and all our energy to advocate for their release.
I know that if the Premier and this government choose to speak out for the release of these men, they would help put significant pressure on the federal government. I have not forgotten the men locked up in the Park Hotel and neither have the many Victorians who have continued to gather in protest at our treatment of refugees and who keep campaigning tirelessly and lobbying governments for their release. I ask the Premier to write once again to the Prime Minister and ask for the release of the Park Hotel refugees to let them make a home in Victoria.