15 Oct 2015

Former Australian state premier wants to assess Nauru

9:31 am on 15 October 2015

The former premier of Western Australia is appealing for the Nauru government to allow her into the country to assess conditions at the asylum seeker detention centre there.

The barren and bankrupt island state of the Republic of Nauru awaits the arrival of refugees, 11 September 2001. Just 25 square kilometres, Nauru has been devastated by phosphate mining which once made the Micronesians the second wealthiest people per capita on earth. AFP PHOTO/Torsten BLACKWOOD

The Republic of Nauru Photo: AFP

Carmen Lawrence says she has enquired about visiting Nauru with investigative journalist Wendy Bacon.

She says nobody has been able to examine the situation on Nauru, and there is a need for independent assessors now that legislation penalising whistleblowers is in place.

Last week the Qatar-based news organisation, Al Jazeera, was denied a media visa.

However, Dr Lawrence still hopes to get to Nauru, saying the government should see the benefits of open access.

"There is nothing in it for them to be hiding the conditions in the detention centre and on the island. The Australian government is responsible for both the contracts that are let, the people who run the detention centre and for the treatment ultimately of the asylum seekers. The Nauruan government, in my view, and the Nauruan people are caught up in an appalling set of circumstances which don't do them any favours."

Dr Lawrence says a fundraising campaign has been launched to help fund the process.

Media visas to Nauru involve a non-refundable application fee of more than US$5000.