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Labor Demands A Parliamentary Inquiry Into Australia's Detention Centre

"There are too many reports coming out of Nauru for anyone to any longer ignore the issues."

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Labor leader Bill Shorten has called for an inquiry into the treatment of people in Australia's offshore detention centres.

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Labor wants the government to create a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations of sexual assault, child abuse and self harm at Australia's detention centre on Nauru, after Guardian Australia published 2000 leaked incident reports from the centre.

Shorten wants an independent investigation into the reports, and has called on the government to make the private companies who manage the detention centre, Wilson Security and Broadspectrum, to front the inquiry and answer questions.

The move is backed by the Greens and a number of crossbench senators, who have raised concerns about the allegations in the Nauru files.

Labor have also indicated it wants to reintroduce mandatory child abuse reporting and create an independent children's advocate for offshore centres.

"We're seeing more and more disturbing reports coming out from Nauru. When you read some of these reports, we can't - like Mr Turnbull - just simply dismiss them all as being incorrect," Shorten said on Monday.


"There are just too many reports to simply brush it under the carpet," Shorten said.

The Labor leader accused the government of using the asylum seekers on Nauru as "political footballs" to show "how tough [they] are against people smugglers".

"Let's agree both Labor and Liberal are determined to stop the people smugglers. That cannot be an excuse to mistreat people in Australia's direct or indirect care."

He said if there are problems on Nauru and Manus Island, then the government shouldn't be ignoring them.

"I'm over this culture of secrecy. If the government doesn't have anything to worry about, why are they worried about the senate looking at what's happening there?"

Shorten said regional resettlement was the best available option for processing asylum seekers.

"Just because people are in detention doesn't mean that they have to be mistreated and it doesn't mean that they should be kept in indefinite detention," he said.

He blamed the Coalition for rejecting Labor's regional solution, which would have seen refugees and asylum seekers living and working in Malaysia, and noted former prime minister Tony Abbott's recent comments that he wished he had voted for it.

Australian Women in Support of Women on Nauru supports Labor's call for an inquiry into the detention camps, adding the government should in the meantime close the camps on Nauru and Manus Island.

Saeed Khan / AFP / Getty Images

“The situation in Australia’s detention camps, both on- and off-shore, is so dire only a royal commission could get to the bottom of the systemic abuse experienced by women, children, and men in these camps,” the organisation’s Pamela Curr said.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari has accused the government of turning a “blind eye” to allegations of child abuse and sexual assault on Nauru.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

“[They] believe the harder we are, the crueler we are, the worse we treat people, the more we put pressure and beat these people down that somehow it is going to act as a deterrent for people who want to come to Australia," Dastyari told the ABC on Sunday.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

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