As another parliamentary year came to a close yesterday, Australia’s political leaders have failed to fulfil our human rights obligations, Amnesty International said.

“It is heartbreaking that politicians have left work for their summer holidays whilst the lives of so many men, women and children are in their hands”, said Amnesty International Australia’s Advocacy Manager, Emma Bull.

“The failure of the Government to bring refugees and people seeking asylum in urgent need of medical treatment to Australia to receive the care they need is gobsmacking. Doctors, not politicians, are the experts in health care and must be at the centre of decision making for the people in our care.

“There are many things Australia and regional countries can do to end the hell on Manus Island and Nauru and prevent such suffering in future but this week we’ve failed to even take the first step. The Prime Minister has the power to bring people to safety now, he needn’t wait for Parliament to resume in February. Amnesty will keep campaigning for him to take immediate action.

“At the same time, politics has failed the LGBTQI community again as parliament stalled on removing discrimination against kids and teachers in schools. Children around the country will go into yet another school year with religious schools being able to expel them on the basis of their sexuality.

“In the last 18-months the LGBTQI community have been put through a postal vote and multiple inquiries on their human rights. It was time for the government to act quickly and decisively but instead we saw delay and indecision.

A last minute capitulation by the Labor Party has seen legislation rushed through granting Australia’s security and intelligence agencies extensive powers to force encryption services to open encrypted messages.

“That these are ‘world first’ laws is nothing to boast about. These surveillance powers are unprecedented globally and could weaken internet security for all Australians, with limited oversight or accountability, making us all less safe online.”