Petro Georgiou MP felt a “huge sense of relief ” as one of his advisors said to Neos Kosmos English Edition, (NKEE), when on Thursday Huly 25, at about 1:30pm the Howard Government’s contentious refugee detention policies were put to rest without a need for a division.
While Petro Georgiou was consistent in campaigning against the Howard government’s draconian asylum seeker policies, as a Liberal he was relieved to not have to cross the floor.
The Opposition party room decided to block the bill Petro Georgiou along with other Opposition MPs decided to vote for Mr Georgiou is known for consistent opposition to Howard’s government’s Pacific Solution and the locking up of asylum seekers in detention camps.
In an emotional speech, Mr Georgiou described the Howard government’s immigration detention policies as “cruel and contrary to Australia’s best values”.
“It’s a bill that takes another step towards closing a dark chapter in our history,” he said.
Mr Georgiou is retiring at the next election but today he gave an impassioned speech to Parliament indicating he will cross the floor and vote with the Government.
“Do we charge drug dealers? Serial paedophiles? Sadistic murderers? Multiple rapists the cost of their detention?” he asked.
“The charging of people who arrive on our shores seeking protection, the cost of their detention is part of the way in which we have demonised them and presented them as being worse than criminals.”
Mr Georgiou pointed out the policies of automatic detention of women and children and billing people for the cost of their detention began under a Labor government.
But he underscored the fact that the Howard government toughened the measures with the Pacific Solution and temporary protection visas.
And he denounced all of it. Mr Georgiou lamented that MPs endorsed the policies with no resistance.
“It cannot and it should not be denied that we did go along, we all did,” he said.
“The votes from the Parliament shows. Going along had its consequences.
“Vulnerable men, women and children were harmed by the legislation we voted for and by the practices and abuses they’ve spawned.”
Mr Georgiou said that the detention bills often become another form of torture. “This dark chapter is about the incarceration of men, women and children behind razor wire in isolated location.”
“It is about the imprisonment of innocent people for periods longer than criminals convicted of serious felonies.
“No advanced society should allow on its statutes a law that so degrades and humiliates fellow human beings who are legitimately calling on our protection. We have an obligation to our own and to future generations to support this bill.”
Detention costs will continue for those found guilty of people smuggling and illegal fishing.
From 2006 to 2008, detainees were billed $54 million but the Commonwealth recovered less than $2 million.