House of Representatives 28/10/2021
Mr KHALIL (Wills) (13:38): There are now 21 confirmed COVID cases among the asylum seekers and refugees in the Park Hotel in Melbourne. This is a national disgrace and an abrogation of the duty of care owed to these people by the Morrison government. When COVID came to Australia early last year, I and my colleagues publicly called on the government to release detainees who had cleared security checks. I asked the government why, in a global pandemic, people who posed no risk to the community should be held in hotel detention when the health risks were so clear. The government had no good answer for this. Doctors warned of the risk of infection given the men were confined to a space where they couldn’t possibly distance. Hundreds of community members offered to take them in and support them. Despite all the health warnings, this government did nothing. They sat on their hands for over a year and offered detainees Panadol when they presented with COVID symptoms. Despite the cases, the detainees are still living in a confined space. If it isn’t incompetence, it’s just cruelty—cruelty used deliberately for so-called deterrence.
This is the path the Morrison government has chosen to take, but the government cannot hide from the duty of care to people in its care. I call on the Morrison government to provide immediate medical care to positive cases and transfer and release them into accommodation where their health is not put at risk.