Weekly media wrap - 31 August 2015

The Senate inquiry examining abuse at the Nauru detention centre released its final report. The report’s recommendations include the removal of children from the Nauru detention centre as soon as possible (Recommendation 11); greater transparency and accountability mechanisms; and new laws on requiring reporting of sexual and violent allegations (Recommendation 15). The committee's findings were supported by Labor and the Greens, but opposed by government senators who put forward a dissenting report (Chapter 5).

On the same day as the Senate inquiry report was released, reports emerged that Transfield received a new five-year contract to provide expanded services on Nauru and Manus Island from November 2015. Transfield will replace Save the Children in providing welfare services in the offshore centres.

The Australian government's plan to resettle asylum seekers from Nauru to Cambodia is in doubt.  With four refugees resettled so far, Cambodian Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak stated ‘we don't have any plans to import more refugees from Nauru to Cambodia’.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) announced a joint operation with Victoria Police to conduct random visa checks in Melbourne's CBD.  Don Smith, Victorian and Tasmanian commander of ABF, said "ABF officers will be positioned at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with".  The operation, codenamed "Operation Fortitude", received widespread public condemnation and, following protests in central Melbourne, was cancelled the same day it was announced. 

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, criticised the operation as "catastrophically silly", while Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, called for the powers of the ABF to be clarified.  Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre, argued that the incident reinforced concerns around the militarisation of immigration officials.  The government confirmed that the office of immigration minister Peter Dutton received a copy of the media release, while Prime Minister Toby Abbott stated that he had no prior knowledge of the operation.

On Nauru, the convictions of two asylum seekers jailed over riots at the detention centre on Nauru were overruled by the Nauruan Court of Appeal.  The court identified flaws in both the original trial and initial investigation, conducted by Wilson Security.

In Papua New Guinea, the supreme court intervened to halt the forced removal of asylum seekers to their countries of origin. Following the deportation of two Iranian detainees from the Manus Island detention facility, the court ordered an interim injunction to stop forcible removals.

Read the Kaldor Centre’s Weekly News Roundup.