Labor senator Sam Dastyari has accused the government of turning a “blind eye” to allegations of child abuse and sexual assault in Australia's offshore detention centre on Nauru.
"At the heart of this is this secrecy fetish that's been run by the government, and this idea that says that we can cover this up and hide it," Dastyari told the ABC a day after his party announced it would move to establish a parliamentary inquiry into the revelations.
The reports of self harm and abuse, which were this week revealed in documents leaked to Guardian Australia, shed light on a belief held by "certain groups and people within the current government", he said.
"[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 criticised how hard it is for journalists and parliamentarians to gain access to the island prison.
“If there is nothing to hide why can't we go to Nauru now?” he asked ABC Insiders host Barrie Cassidy.
“Why can't you jump on a plane this afternoon and try and find out what on earth is going on there?"
Guardian Australia's political editor Katharine Murphy told the program she had spoken to other senate crossbenchers who would support a parliamentary inquiry into Nauru.