Western Australian Senator Michaelia Cash has used a late-night Estimates sitting to suggest detained asylum seekers may be accessing child p-rnography.

Last night in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Senator Cash asked a series of question of Immigration Department officials about condom and p-rnography use by detainees. An anti-asylum seeker spam email currently circulating lists “sewerage systems blocked with condoms” among outrages perpetrated by detainees, noting they had been used for gay s-x.

Condom vending machines are available in immigration detention facilities. They are also in NSW jails and have been trialled in Queensland — although detention for asylum seekers is not intended as punitive or correctional. Cash demanded details of the number and location of condom vending machines. She followed that with questions about detainees accessing p-rnography online.

“Is the department aware of any instances where a detainee has accessed p-rnography, including child p-rnography?” Cash demanded of Departmental Secretary Andrew Metcalfe. Officials denied any knowledge of asylum seekers trying to access child p-rn.

Immigration Deputy Secretary Jackie Wilson told Cash: “I’m not aware personally of the child p-rnography. And because Serco, as I said, does its reporting on sites that are hit, they can actually block sites if it’s identified that there’s a frequent access to acertain site that’s inappropriate.”

Asked Cash: “What action is then taken against the detainee? Considering in our own culture, if you’re at work and you access p-rn online, you’re pretty much looking at dismissal.”

Metcalfe replied: “These folks aren’t at work, they’re at home — it’s a home we provide for them.”

Cash: “That’s a very interesting distinction. A very interesting — and I will consider pursuing that one further.”

Metcalfe: “This is their home for the time being.”

Cash: “Yes. Is there a difference between accessing unlawful child p-rnography and just surfing the net for p-rn at home?”

Metcalfe: “Well certainly Senator, we do not condone or permit any of that … because simply it is contrary to law regardless of the place.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey