By Terri Butler MP

26 October 2020

REBECCA LEVINGSTON: Terri Butler is the federal member for Griffith. Terri Butler, good morning.

TERRI BUTLER:              Good morning.

LEVINGSTON:                You've just tweeted that you've seen the video footage of the Queensland police officer engagement with the refugee advocate. Can you give me your response to that?

BUTLER:                        Yeah. Look, I just saw the footage on Twitter. I saw that one of the protest groups had tweeted it out and people who have seen it will see that it looks like a very concerning incident. The Queensland Police need to really swiftly investigate it and respond as quickly as possible. Because of course, Australians want to know that the Queensland Police are going to be respecting the fact that people have got a right to protest. And they also want to know that we can trust the hierarchy of the police service, I should say, who investigate when something like this does happen.

LEVINGSTON:                Police have told us that they're aware of the video, the interaction is being reviewed. Are you going to call for something more formal?

BUTLER:                        Well, I'd like them to investigate swiftly and act swiftly. I certainly wasn't present when this occurred. I'm in Canberra at the moment for Parliament. I don't have firsthand knowledge of it. All I can tell you is what I've seen as footage and that footage is very concerning. And anyone who looks at it would want the Queensland Police Service to act swiftly to investigate it and to make sure that any appropriate action is taken.

LEVINGSTON:                Terri Butler, in terms of your electorate of Griffith, I'm just trying to figure out, does Kangaroo Point fall into that?

BUTLER:                        It does, yes. And this detention centre, this makeshift detention centre, was set up by the Morrison Government several months ago, without any consultation, not with me and not with anyone. And they've held people there throughout that time, who have come to Australia for medical attention. Now, the government needs to get their act together on this. There's no wonder that people are out there protesting when they've had people sitting in there for months and months and months and people who are seeking help with medical conditions.

                                    And of course, as you said to the previous caller, these are people who've come to Australia seeking asylum, which it's lawful to do. So the Morrison Government is the root of the problem here. But in the meantime, of course there's going to be protests. We have to expect that people are going to be expressing their concerns. This is Australia, people have a free and democratic right to protest, provided that they do so peacefully and calmly and we need that to be respected.

LEVINGSTON:                What has sparked this, Terri Butler, is a really distressing incident where Saif, who has a wife and a son, a four year old son, who actually live in the community just minutes away from Kangaroo Point Detention Centre but they can't actually have physical contact, they haven't had it since pre-COVID. So around March this year, I understand. Do you think that this father and his wife and child should be able to have contact?

BUTLER:                        Well, what I think is that the government, the Morrison Government, should move people into the community where it's safe to do so. Not only is it a situation where people are being held in detention at the moment and they have been for many months and that's causing them personal distress. It's also costing a lot of, frankly, taxpayers' money, to have people holed up in this makeshift detention centre for several months, rather than being in the community where that's safe to do so. Now, I don't have a line of sight into any assessments of any of the individuals, I can't speak to any individual case. But what I can say is that I've personally spoken to Minister Tudge and I've asked him to consider moving people into the community where that's safe for that to occur.

LEVINGSTON:                We'd love to stay in touch with you, Terri but let's just see if any progress is actually made. Thanks so much for taking the call.

BUTLER:                        Thanks for having me.

LEVINGSTON:                The Federal MP for Griffith, Terri Butler. So her electorate actually takes in Kangaroo Point, the immigration detention facility. We will continue to seek more clarification from Alan Tudge, the acting immigration minister, on this situation.

26 OCTOBER 2020