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Lambie responds to refugee concerns

National

Refugee advocates have welcomed Senator Jacqui Lambie’s decision to block the Federal Government’s legislation which, if passed, has the power to ban mobile phones from immigration detention centres.

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The Southern Cross reported last month that Justice for Refugees SA and other groups were concerned about a Commonwealth bill that would prohibit refugees in detention from communicating with family and legal representatives.

The crossbench Senator announced her position last month in an email to voters who took part in a poll she ran that found 96 per cent oppose the bill.

“I wanted you to know first: I’m voting against the mobile phone ban bill,” the Senator wrote.

“I was on the fence about it, because I thought there were some good points and bad points to the bill. I asked the public what they thought, and I got over 100,000 people write back to me. 96 per cent of them wanted me to vote no.”

President of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s National Council, Claire Victory, said given the current numbers, Senator Lambie’s decision would prevent the Morrison government from getting the bill, due to be debated this month, through the Senate.

“If passed, the legislation could prevent detainees from speaking to their lawyers, one of their few remaining legal entitlements,” Ms Victory said.

“We should all remember that people are legally entitled to seek asylum in this country and each should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“Punitive measures such as the mobile phone ban will disadvantage hundreds of people whose only supposed crime is to seek asylum in Australia.

“Mobile phones are a lifeline to family, friends and supporters in an environment where the future is far from certain.”

Ms Victory, an Adelaide lawyer, said she strongly encouraged Senator Lambie to hold her ground in the lead up to the vote.

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