CANBERRA, March 5 AAP – The Australian Greens and Labor have launched two Senate inquiries into asylum seeker policy, one into violence on Manus Island and the other into navy incursions into Indonesian waters.
Both were passed over government objections.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the Manus inquiry would be the only genuinely independent investigation into the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati, killed in on Manus Island.
“Through this inquiry the workers who were there that night and the refugees who were attacked will have the opportunity to tell their stories, free form the government’s gag order,” she said in a statement.
Assistant immigration minister Michaelia Cash said there were already inquiries into events on Manus Island and the government didn’t believe another was necessary.
“We are confident that the existing inquiries in partnership in with the government of Papua New Guinea will get to the bottom of these matters,” she told the Senate.
But it will go ahead, conducted by the Senate legal and constitutional affairs references committee which will report back by June 26.
The second inquiry will be conducted by the Senate foreign affairs defence and trade which must report by March 27.
It will examine the circumstances behind the six breaches of Indonesian territorial waters by navy and customs vessels engaged in Operation Sovereign Borders between December 1 and January 20.
Senator Cash said defence and customs had already completed a review which found the breaches were inadvertent, not authorised and the government had apologised to the Indonesian government.
“The motion is once again nothing more and nothing less than a greens political stunt,” she said.