Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone and Minister for Family and Community Services, Kay Patterson, today rejected claims by lawyers for Vivian Solon.The Ministers said Mr Newhouse was well aware of the extensive assistance being provided to Ms Solon in Manila and offered to her in Australia upon her return.
They said Mr Newhouse was also aware that there are discussions ongoing between Ms Solon’s solicitors and the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS), representing the Commonwealth, about any possible compensation claim.
Senator Vanstone said Ms Solon’s lawyer, George Newhouse, attempt to draw the new Secretary of DIMIA into the issue of care arrangements and compensation for Ms Solon was a red herring.
“Mr Newhouse knows very well that any possible compensation claim is a matter for Ms Solon’s legal representatives to discuss with AGS, and that it does not involve or require discussions with Ministers,” the Minister said.
The Ministers said the package offered to Ms Solon would not impact on her ability to seek compensation.
Senator Patterson reaffirmed the Australian Government’s offer of a comprehensive package of ex gratia support to Ms Solon for her resettlement in Australia and its support for her return home to receive medical care and be reunited with her family as soon as possible
“The government is not delaying Ms Solon’s return to Australia. If Ms Solon’s lawyers are recommending she remain in Manila then the only thing keeping her there is her lawyers.
“The assistance package includes free medical and health care, including private services, carer support up to 24 hours a day and health-related aids and transport to relevant services. This assistance will be available to Ms Solon for as long as it is needed and there is no intention to stop it after six months,” Senator Patterson said
“The Government will also provide Ms Solon with other assistance including a lump sum resettlement payment, free accommodation for six months close to medical and treatment facilities, financial support in Australia for a family member for six months to support Ms Solon and a mobile phone with a prepaid credit of $500.
“The Government has conveyed to Ms Solon’s lawyers that it is committed to finding, within six months, a resolution of any claim for compensation, once a claim for compensation is received.
“If circumstances are such that, through no fault of Ms Solon’s, agreement has not been reached in all respects the Government will consider any request for a short extension of the time the Government will pay for Ms Solon’s accommodation.
“In the meantime Ms Solon is being provided with extensive assistance while in Manila, including free accommodation, a daily living allowance, carer support, transport and medical treatment.”
The Ministers said the Australian Government has never sought to downplay the impact of her deportation, immediately referring the case to the Palmer Inquiry and now being investigated by Mr Comrie under the auspices of the Ombudsman. It is time for Ms Solon’s lawyer to stop playing games and bring his client home.