Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch says he welcomes a decision by the Federal Court to fine the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) the maximum civil penalty of $242,000 for negligence relating to the Malu Sara tragedy and claims this is a step in the right direction towards closure for the victims’ families.
“While I welcome the fine, I see this as the first step towards closure for the families. It has taken over 5 years to get to this, which is a long time for the families to have to wait for justice to be served. This is only the beginning, we have a long way to go for these families to receive full closure,” said Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch.
Mr Entsch said the fact that the courts determined that the Immigration Department should pay the maximum amount allowable as a fine highlights the gravity and the extent of the negligence on the part of the department and its representatives.
“It is critical that the $242,000 fine isn’t recycled through government coffers, but rather it is directed into an account that will benefit the victims’ families. This strengthens my argument even further for bipartisan support for the establishment of a trust fund for the Malu Sara victims. It is my intention to present a private members bill at the earliest time in the next parliamentary sitting in 2011 to establish such a trust fund which will be for the benefit of the children and the families of those whose lives were lost in totally avoidable circumstances,
“While the trust initially is to support in the education and day to day support for the children of the victims it will also provide an opportunity for the establishment of a memorial at both Badu and Thursday Island where the families can go and pay their respects and remember their loved ones. In the long term I would expect that monies from the trust would be directed to support children from Badu Island with special needs,” said Mr Entsch.
Following this judgment he says he is looking forward to a similar outcome in relation to the role that the Queensland Police Service played in the incident.
“It is also imperative that individuals from the Immigration Department, the Queensland Police Service and the Malu Sara boat manufacturer, all of whom were identified in the Coroner’s report as being negligent in their respective roles, be bought before a court of law to be held accountable and judged by their peers.
Finally there needs to be a comprehensive assurance from Immigration and Police Departments that all actions have been taken to ensure that such a tragedy could not occur again in the future. “
Mr Entsch said there are so many people who have contributed to helping the families through this terrible time and they deserve a public thank you for their efforts.
“I would like to thank all of the community members and businesses who have come out in force to donate time, money and goods to the Saub family. The outpouring of generosity has been overwhelming. Most notably I make reference to Jason Briggs who has helped from a legal perspective and Mark Bousen and his family for their ongoing generous financial commitment in support of the day to day costs for the family deserves particular mention. The courage of John Saub and his family has been aure inspiring through all of this. Their grace and perseverance has been admirable. As a community we must continue to support the families affected by this tragedy until full closure and justice has been achieved,” he said.