Members statement: Refugee detention
As of this morning there are 21 people who have tested positive for COVID currently being held against their will at the Park Hotel in Carlton. That is nearly 50 per cent of the people who have been detained for months in harrowing conditions. For months they have pleaded to be freed and been terrified that COVID would find them, and now it has.
These men have done nothing wrong. They were trying to find peace and safety as they sought asylum in Australia. Instead they have been locked up for years, tortured by our governments. They have been kept in cramped conditions without the ability to maintain social distancing and have proper ventilation. Several of the men have spoken out about their concerns that there were public health breaches by staff at the detention hotel. These people were part of a medevac program that evacuated refugees from detention camps on Manus and Nauru islands to the mainland for medical treatment. They have told us day after day that they are fearful, that they are scared, because many of them have pre-existing medical conditions that render them more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID.
I have written to the Premier over months asking for the government to intervene in any way that they can, because if we leave it up to our cruel, heartless federal government, we know these men will continue to be unsafe. Every single one of us has to do everything that we can to support these people and set them free to safety. Members of the opposition, urge your colleagues in Canberra to release these men now. There is absolutely no justification to keep people trapped in that hotel in the midst of a pandemic. Do not wait until it is too late.