Dutton's naked power grab

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Dare ya

On 21 August, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said

I think in the immigration portfolio, you are defined by Nauru and Manus … I would love to get everybody off there tomorrow. If I could have brought them to Australia in a charter flight overnight I would have.

Admittedly this was the ‘kind, warm and fuzzy’ Dutton around the time he resigned as Turnbull’s Immigration Minister after challenging for the leadership and losing. History tells us he was going to make a second strike at the Liberal Party leadership a day or two after the first attempt and was furiously (and incorrectly) counting the numbers. History also tells us the second strike removed Turnbull but installed Scott Morrison as Prime Minister, himself a previous Immigration Minister.

By October, a number of children who are believed to be suffering extreme physical and mental health issues as a result of years of imprisonment on Nauru at the behest of the Australian Government were being repatriated to Australia for appropriate medical care following political pressure from ‘radical’ organisations such as Getup, progressive members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Medical Association. It’s not enough. As reported by Paddy Manning in The Monthly’s weekday afternoon email the next day, on 25 October federal Liberal MP Julia Banks spoke about the continued imprisonment of refugees on Nauru and

relayed the story of a little girl on Nauru who asked the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, “Why am I in prison?” When asked her name, the girl gave her number. “That little girl has a name,” said Banks yesterday. “That little girl has a life, and she’s living in child years. Let us as a country not have to apologise to that little girl and the other children on Nauru in years to come.”

As Paddy Manning went on to observe

Banks is no softie — she was the same MP who earlier this year reckoned she could live on Newstart — and arguably her speech was too little, too late.

Manning goes on to reflect on the ‘rank hypocrisy’ of the Australian Government’s apology to the victims of institutional child sexual abuse while we as a country are still committing equally disgusting and repulsive acts on children as Morrison made his apology speech (as a result of former PM Gillard’s courageous — in the correct sense of the word — Enquiry into Institutional Child Abuse) in Parliament.

That isn’t to suggest for a minute that those that were abused by members of institutions that were supposed to care for children don’t deserve an apology — they do. The people currently on Nauru also don’t deserve an indefinite jail term for the legally permitted action of seeking refugee status in a country of their choice either.

So the ‘cuddly, friendly’ Dutton in August wanted to bring all those on Nauru to Australia. Well Morrison re-appointed Dutton as Home Affairs and Immigration Minister, so he still can. Apparently it’s as simple as hiring a plane. What’s stopping him? Dutton had no trouble authorising that a couple of au pairs employed by people he knew to stay in the country (while declining the application for an Afghani translator employed by the ADF) so the precedent is there. C’mon, Pete, you can do it, hire the plane — those of us that aren’t on the extreme right wing of the Liberal Party dare ya.

The alternative is that Dutton was saying whatever he thought would give him a leg up in the popularity stakes by apportioning the blame to others. While there are others that are equally to blame here from both the red and blue teams in Parliament House, the person with the absolute power at the moment is Dutton. And he chose to use the physical and mental health of children in a vain and ultimately fruitless attempt to remake his image. It demonstrates the calibre of the man’s ethics and morals.

Even if Dutton can’t grow a backbone and hire the plane to bring everyone from Nauru to Australia he can be overruled. Morrison rolled in over the top of Dutton and took the prize (or would poison chalice be a more apt description given the opinion polls and the result of the Wentworth by-election?). We recently discussed Morrison’s attempts in looking for a marketing slogan that worksduring the period of the Wentworth by-election and noted a number of ‘policy on the run’ decisions as well as a few backflips. Eminent Liberals such as John Hewson have argued that Morrison’s best chance for re-election was to be brave and completely reset the policy agenda (rather than resetting the messaging of the current policies) for the Coalition government and this could include issues such as refugee policy, addressing climate change, integrity and so on. The ABC’s Laura Tingle wrote about the same issues the week after the Wentworth humiliation and now Morrison’s even annoying the IPA.

But then again, to change policies to appeal to a broader cross section of Australians would take considerable backbone, something Morrison has yet to demonstrate he has with his constant kowtowing to the alt-right rump in the Liberal and National Parties. Morrison may not get past the next election, but what a legacy if he was to order the release of everyone Australia has imprisoned on Nauru and really did some ‘fair dinkum’ work on reducing emissions through a trading scheme. He really doesn’t have much to lose but potentially a lot to gain by attracting moderates back to the Liberal Party. As Dutton said, getting people off Nauru is as easy as chartering a plane (and presumably terminating an agreement). So if Dutton doesn’t have the backbone to do it — how ‘bout you, Scomo — we double dare ya.

What do you think?

This article by 2353 was originally published on The Political Sword.

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  1. New England Cocky

    I think both Dutton and Morriscum could not lie straight in bed!! Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether the left side of their mouth knows what the right side is saying, Duplicity thy name is Dutton!! Mediocrity and Mendacity thy name is Scat Morriscum!!

    Bring on the 2019 Federal elections before Christmas 2018!!

    Women supporting Adultery support National$

  2. Terence Mills

    Dutton sees the continued detention of these people on Nauru and Manus as an election winning wedge to play against Labor at the next election. To remove these people now spoils his strategy and that’s why he has killed off the new Zealand offer.

    He says that transferring people to NZ will act as a signal to people smugglers to recommence their trade as they will see this as a weakness ; he is unable to see the irony in not applying the same argument to those already transferred to The USA.

    I’ve previously foreshadowed the real cost of this policy failure when these people eventually gain their freedom, they will inevitably mount legal actions against the government of the day for unlawful imprisonment and they will win……….who will pay the massive damages ?

    Look in the mirror !

    Incidentally, when Dutton made that statement in August there were 119 children on Nauru and most have now been transferred to Australia ; Dutton has only allowed the mothers to accompany their kids, their husbands and fathers will remain indefinitely on Nauru.

  3. Roscoe

    I dont understand why mothers are still sending their children to his child minding centers, surely they are not that hard up to find child care?

  4. Diannaart


    It is a nightmare finding suitable let alone affordable childcare.

    Maybe mothers AND fathers could write, phone, email Dutton with their condemnation of his obvious hypocrisy?


    But men Supporting Adultery don’t support National$?

  5. Florence Howarth

    If my memory is correct, we have already paid out on those detained on Manus.

  6. Terence Mills


    A class action was mounted by detainees on Manus and they secured a judgement in their favour of $70 million after Home Affairs agreed there was no contest :

    A judge has approved a $70m compensation payout to current and former Manus Island asylum seekers and refugees over their illegal detention in dangerous conditions in what is Australia’s largest human rights class action settlement.

    Victorian supreme court justice Cameron Macaulay said on Wednesday he had approved the settlement reached with the Australian government and operators of the Manus Island regional processing centre.

    As far as we know, the men have still not been able to leave Manus and Dutton maintains a legal fiction that they are no longer detained ; let’s hope their compensation has been safely banked for their future when they eventually obtain travel documents.

    A similar action on behalf of the detainees on Nauru has not yet been mounted mainly because lawyers cannot get on to the island, but it will and Dutton’s wilful mishandling will cost us all. Ironically by that time Dutton will be back to running his childcare centres.

  7. Matters Not


    let’s hope their compensation has been safely banked for their future

    Indeed – because:

    Most of the 1700 people sharing in the settlement have already received their money.

    The final payments are being sent to the remaining 340 former detainees, with that process expected to be completed over the next week.

    The government has paid the monies owed and let’s not forget the substantial legal fees as well.


  8. Bronte ALLAN

    Sadly for Australia ALL these lying, flat earth, climate change denier, obscenely over paid so called “liberal” politicians are all tarred with the same brush! None of them could lead a horse to water & get it to drink, so what makes bloody Duston or Sco Mo for that matter think they can do “anything” to right the wrongs of the liberal lot? Duston does not have any empathy, sympathy or even any feelings towards any of these poor unfortunates in these concentration camps, & Sco Mo who is a “convinced” (?) happy clapper just does not have the balls or he honesty to admit this bloody liberal mob are wrong & to really do anything about it. Bastards, the lot of them!

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