Lisa Owen: And one of Little's men, Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis, is on his own journey to visit New Zealanders held in a detention centre on Christmas Island, which is now called the Kiwi Alcatraz. 3 News political reporter Brook Sabin is travelling with Davis, so I spoke to the Labour MP in Perth just before we came to air and began by asking what he hopes to achieve there.
Kelvin Davis: Well, we're just hoping to shine a massive spotlight on the human rights abuses that are going on at the detention centres, not just at Christmas Island but all around Australia. The stories that we've been hearing have been absolutely horrendous, and we hope that John Key feels the pressure.
Kelvin, when you say that people are telling you horrendous things, specifically, what are they saying?
OK, so we've got people calling in from the detention centres. They do have cell phones. We're hearing about people who have witnessed others slashing their wrists, others cutting their throats, people being dragged out of their beds and given, being beaten up by what they call the emergency response teams. There was a story about a guy, Dylan, here in Perth in a detention centre who was dragged out of bed, he was beaten up by the emergency response team only to find it was a case of a mistaken identity, and they had to go off and find the guy that they really meant to bash up. You know, this is just unacceptable in Australia in this day and age, and it's happening to New Zealand citizens.
Those are really serious allegations. What proof have you got?
Well, I've got the stories from inmates. They're telling them to me. Of course, they don't have selfies, and they don't, in general, have smartphones to record these events, but, you know, it's layer upon layer, and they're not just coming from one or two people; they're coming from a number of people from detention centres across Australia. Just the layers of anecdotes are building up, and they're very consistent.
So what hope have you actually got of getting into the detention centre? Have you got permission to go in there?
Well, we've been in contact with the Shadow Minister of Immigration's office. There's an Australian senator who we're going to be contacting in a few hours. She wants to talk to me. Look, there is a process to go through, so we're hopeful that we will get in there. But let me say, this has grown to be more than just the story about New Zealanders in Australian detention centres. This is about all nationalities. We've got Amnesty International on our side; we've got Red Cross; we've got the Human Rights. There's a number of organisations throwing their weight behind this campaign, I guess, just to spread the word and hopefully to embarrass the Australian government.
The thing is if you don't have permission to go in there, isn't this exactly what the Prime Minister has said? It's just a political stunt.
Yeah, but that's the Prime Minister's narrative. He has to say it. He's been caught flat-footed. New Zealanders are waking up to the fact of what's going on, and he's been behind the eight ball, and he needs to catch up.
Some people would say these people are criminals, so this is their lot; it's what they deserve.
Well, there's three points, basically. One is if you're going to detain people, do it in a humane manner. Secondly, these people are more Australian than New Zealander. Many of them have been here since babies, and they've grown up, they've paid taxes and all that sort of thing. The other thing is there's really no justification for detaining them. They could still be at home. They could still be with their families. They could still be working while their visa applications are processed.
Kelvin, we're going to have to leave it there. We're out of time. That's Kelvin Davis joining us from Perth, where he's waiting for a plane to Christmas Island.
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