Eleven Children Off Nauru Thanks To Wentworth By-Election: Kerryn Phelps
Kerryn Phelps has attributed the news of almost of almost a dozen children being transferred off Nauru to the voters of Wentworth in last week's by-election.
It was reported on Monday Australian Border Force officials had confirmed 11 children were moved from Nauru detention to Australia for medical treatment.
While speaking on ABC's Q&A panel, which began filming shortly after the announcement, independent candidate for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps raised the news in response to a question about what she would do to end offshore detention should she officially join parliament.
"That's 11 children who've been rescued from appalling circumstances," she said of the reports.
"And I believe we can thank the voters of Wentworth for that result because it has been front and centre in the debate."
Currently leading the tally by more than 1,600 votes, her expected victory will be a historic break with the tradition of a historically Liberal seat in Sydney's eastern suburbs and has largely been regarded a wake-up call for the government on issues including climate change and offshore detention.
After Saturday night's unprecedented swing of more than 20 percent against the Liberal Party, Phelps said her first order of business would be to get asylum seeker children off Nauru and brought to Australia.
"A lot of people at the polling booths have approached me about it [children on Nauru] and indicated that they are very concerned about it," Phelps told the Q&A audience.
"I believe that we do need to bring an end to offshore detention. I think its cruel and unusual punishment, I don't think it sits well within the Australian consciousness and I think that it is time that it is brought to an end."
Phelps was joined on the panel by NSW Liberal Party President Phillip Ruddock, Labor MP Anthony Albanese, political commentator and author Peter van Onselen, and author and journalist Anne Summers.
When asked if she would support a vote of no confidence motion against the current government-- a possibility which has been put to Phelps several times since voting began to swing in her favour-- the independent candidate said she would like to give the government an opportunity to respond to "what the people have said".
"I think the government will be encouraged to take action as they have done today and with an election looming in May of next year the government will be judged in response to this and I don't think it will take a motion of no confidence to have them act on this. I think the writing's on the wall with this particular issue."
Monday's transfer of 11 children from Nauru means there are 652 people, including 52 children and 107 families, remaining on the island, according to Border Force officials. On Manus Island there are 626 men.
There has been mounting pressure on the government to move children from the detention centre following alarming reports of their deteriorating physical and mental health.
From the 5,500 Australian doctors who last week signed an open letter urging Scott Morrison to evacuate kids off Nauru to the three Liberal MPs--Russell Broadbent, Craig Laundy and Julia Banks-- who made the same demand, calls are coming from both experts and within the government for action.
The prime minister has said he is willing to accept New Zealand's offer to resettle asylum sekers and their families from the Pacific Island, on the condition they will never be able to come to Australia.