As reported recently in various news outlets, including The Age and recounted here at AIMN by correspondent Rossleigh, it is the Coalition’s intention to hand over decisions regarding the provision of information about Asylum Seeker boat arrivals to the military.
”That will be an operational decision, as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, for the three-star military officer,” Mr Morrison said. ”I don’t think those decisions should be put in the hands of politicians … I think those decisions should be made by implementation officers and I’m quite happy to trust a three-star military officer of our armed forces.”
I don’t especially care who you are prepared to trust, Mr Morrison. What matters is who the Australian people are prepared to trust. More to the point, why the hell is “trust” being mentioned at all? The more you toss the word around, the more concerned I become. Whenever someone says, “trust me” you have to automatically wonder why. Usually it means something is being withheld. As things stand, under Labor, we are privy to all pertinent information regarding boat arrivals. That is how it should be. How can the population possibly make any informed decisions regarding public policy without information? You are deliberately taking this whole matter, an explicitly humanitarian matter out of the public’s hands. That is utterly unacceptable. Your agenda is clear enough. You want to “solve” the issue by neatly removing it from public view. Out of sight, out of mind. But it is nothing less than scandalous to attempt to remove the public’s ability to have an informed opinion about anything a Government is doing. You are seeking to exclude the Australian public from the political process.
I can already hear the words “We cannot release details of operational matters.” resounding in my head. I assure you, lots of Australians aren’t naive enough to think that a conversation about this hasn’t already taken place between the Coalition and General Three Stars. Lots of Australians are not naive enough to be unaware that every moment of the development of Coalition refugee policy has been an orchestrated affair aimed at making the problem magically disappear.
It was bad enough when you started characterising this human tragedy as an issue of “border security”. It got worse when you militarised our entire response to it. But to now go further and hide the thing under the cloak of a pseudo military campaign is idiotic and gratuitous. Make no mistake, that is what you’re doing and we know it. You have effectively declared war on persons seeking asylum. You have effectively put us on a war footing. What is it about Conservatives that makes them unable to function unless they’re waging war against someone? The procedures and approach you are proposing, and what you have already set down as policy, is taking us down the path of turning Papua New Guinea into our own version of Guantanamo Bay.
Now, you may complain that the analogy is hyperbolic, but the parallels are there. You have consistently sought to dilute the legal rights of Asylum Seekers in direct contravention of established International laws and conventions. You now seek to cloud this whole matter in secrecy. You have expressed a preparedness to not only ignore International law and convention, but to go so far as to remove this Nation from its status as a signatory to them. No, my analogy is perfectly reasonable.
In my view this is nothing less than treachery. It cannot stand. This alone is reason enough not to vote for the Coalition. But more than that it speaks to a philosophy that will inform everything the Coalition would do in Government. That philosophy is one that will send shivers down the spines of any Queenslander old enough to remember. It is the philosophy of, “Don’t you worry about that.” Well, as it turned out under Joh Bjelke Peterson we had a great deal to be worried about and the same applies here. It’s a breathtakingly patronising, contemptuous and condescending attitude. You use the language of fear and emergency in an attempt to manipulate the minds of the electorate. You know if you speak and act in such a way as to make people feel insecure, they will turn to those who offer them security. In such a situation you know you’ll get away with almost anything and that people will set aside natural humanitarian impulses, not to mention reason itself. There is, it must be said, no word in the English language that comes close to properly describing how deeply disgusting that behaviour is.
But perhaps I’m being unfair. Perhaps you really believe in what you’re doing and saying. Perhaps rather than disingenuous you are just plain imbecilic. Either way, Australians suffer for it.