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Day to Day Politics: Dutton is getting away with murder.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

1 Ian McPhee is a mild-mannered, former Immigration Minister and man of ethical behaviour who served in the Fraser Government. One who Peter Dutton could well do to take lessons in civility and manners from. In a report by Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project McPhee said he was ”disgusted by the power accorded to current ministers regarding the lives of people fleeing persecution”.

Peter Dutton has sweeping and unchecked powers that are beyond the review of courts, are unjust and “un-Australian” and must be wound back, the former immigration minister has said.

The comments, by the former immigration minister come in a report that has examined the discretionary powers of immigration ministers and found them to be dramatically increasing, and adversely affecting asylum seekers.

”Ministers now exercise power that is mostly beyond the review of judges,” he said. “Such power should be exercised humanely and in accordance with morality, not absolute law’.’

”The law and its practice is now unjust. It is un-Australian.”

Current powers include various discretions to approve, refuse, or cancel visas, to detain or re-detain an asylum seeker without warning, to send asylum seekers to offshore detention centres and, in some cases, prevent reviews of decisions not to grant protection visas.

To make matters worse there are two bills before the Parliament that would give this obnoxious character even more power.

These powers, the RAP said, would further allow an immigration minister to “play god”.

Rather, the minister is empowered to an alarming degree to make decisions based upon his whim, with scant regard for due process.”

I”t’s just appalling the situation that has arisen,’ he said. “I don’t know how anyone like Morrison or Dutton can be proud of what they’re doing. It’s against the Australian idea of a fair go”

Another author of the report Lauren Bull said:

Under Australian law, no other minister – not even the prime minister – is given anywhere near as much unchecked power.”

”This is an astonishing development of unchecked discretionary power considering that in 1989 there were only three comparable public interest based discretionary powers and, prior to that, there were none whatsoever.”

Unfortunately when you have a ”born to rule” government with a ”my way” attitude then this is the sort of disregard for civil liberties and the rule of law you can expect.

Talking about Dutton, I predicted last week that he would get away with his lies about the men and a boy on Manus Island. I’m still thinking the same.

2 It is only four years ago that the then Opposition leader Tony Abbott, with the use of language more befitting a prophet predicting the end of the world, described the health of the Australian economy thus: Disaster, catastrophe, failure, debacle, fiasco, shambles and many other words were repeated and repeated ad nauseam. Over time, Hockey, Abbott then Morrison doubled the debt. Having done so the government still continues to blame Labor for all their woes. Hockey and Morrison have proven to be ineffectual Treasurers. Now returning to a surplus isn’t important anymore. We can have good or bad debt, take your choice.

All the talk around the budget today seems to center on the fact that this is not your usual budget. This one has a plan attached, or a blueprint for good and bad debt. The Treasurer Scott Morrison has stated many times that we don’t have a revenue problem but a spending one. That implicitly implies that there will be a lot of pain if he has budget repair in mind. Of course, none of this has been leaked but it will come out in the wash. If you want to cut massively there are only three areas in which you can do it. Education health and social services. Well, there is a fourth if you add in subsidies to mining companies and tax breaks for the rich and privileged. Already noises are being made by the backbench about money being taken from private schools.

Just backtracking on the plan thing, I would like a quid for every time I have heard Abbott, Morrison or Turnbull say that ”only the Coalition has a plan”. Indeed, I would be a wealthy man. It seems it is one of those plans that needed a lot of planning before becoming one. Almost four years in fact. There were of course other plans but they seem to have been discarded along the way. They only now seem to be addressing issues they could have rectified years ago.

Remember all of Turnbull’s grandiose talk of Tax Reform promised to be the most talked about one for many a year. Everything was on the table and then off it. The waiters didn’t know their right hand from their left. Morrison promised much but was has delivered nothing.

The Budget Repair Levy on earners over $180,000 will end as scheduled, on June 30, 2017 meaning high income earners will get a double wammy tax cut. University students are set to pay a greater proportion of fees, which might be capped. Tobacco will cost more which is in line with Labor’s policy. And there is a new dental scheme which on the surface is a new money-saving one.

The rhetoric behind the budget will be the oft-repeated one of jobs and growth, as the economy transitions. Which I might add is just rhetoric for two reasons. One, there are more people looking for work now than any other time in the past twenty years.

Two, there is no evidence that we are successfully transitioning our economy. Oh I forgot about innovation. It will again be championed despite the anti-innovation sacking hundreds of scientists and building the world’s 63rd slowest internet. Deterring the young from attending university by raising fees. Not to mention a Claytons reform of the Gonski proposals on education. And not to mention the Governments ambivalence to Climate Change.

And on jobs and growth let me quote Stephen Koukoulas of the Guardian:

”In terms of jobs and growth, the ABS data shows that average quarterly GDP growth and average monthly increases in employment are historically stronger when Labor has been in government compared with the Coalition”.

”I recently analysed the rates of GDP and employment growth under Labor and Liberal governments. The data were based on the 43-year period since December 1972 when the Labor Whitlam government was elected. This meant, quite neatly, that there was around 21 and a half years of data for Labor governments and around the same for Liberal governments”.

Tuesday’s budget will have everything to do with the Government’s re-election and little else.

The propaganda attached to this budget will be Turnbull, Morrison and others trying to convince Australia that the past four years have been an aberration.

3 As I mentioned there already appears to be some dissention within the Coalition over the proposed cuts to private school education. MPs fear it will affect the party’s voter base. Government schools totaling 9,000 are to receive increased funding under a needs based funding model. Catholic schools have warned that parents will face higher fees, while some may be forced to close.

Given the history of the party room on other matters it may not even pass a vote. What an embarrassment that would be for the PM.

My thought for the day.

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you.”



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  1. Terry2

    Papua New Guinea’s “open” detention centre was closed to an Australian senator Nick McKim when he arrived at Manus Island on a fact-finding mission on Tuesday.

    McKim as an elected Senator in the Australian government arrived in Port Moresby on Monday to discover his request to inspect the centre that still holds more than 800 men had been denied. This is a centre that was established and is operated by the Australian government and is funded by the Australian taxpayer but has been shrouded under a blanket of secrecy and misinformation promulgated by Dutton. As McKim said, this ban on access to an “open” detention centre on Manus has the fingerprints of Dutton all over it.

    This facility is called an “open” centre following a decision by the PNG Supreme Court which found that the detention of people in Papua New guinea who have not committed any crime or been convicted of any wrong doing, is unconstitutional and the people must be released.
    Dutton’s response was the height of cynicism, he ordered that the gates at the detention centre be opened daily at dawn and locked again at sunset in what I have called the Hotel California solution : ‘you can check out any time but you can never leave’. Dutton will now tell you – if you listen to 2GB – that nobody is detained on Manus Island or on Nauru where a similar situation exists.

    How this man ever got into a position of power within our democratic system is a mystery to me and, as I’ve noted before. When these people finally get their day in court as they surely will, it will cost the Australian taxpayer millions in compensatory damages for unlawful imprisonment.

  2. Kaye Lee


    It is already happening.

    A NINE year old girl who was ‘physically and mentally’ injured while detained in the Christmas Island immigration detention centre has been awarded an undisclosed sum of money in a damages settlement.

    Maurice Blackburn launched the case in 2014 as a class action seeking compensation for asylum seekers who allegedly suffered injuries as a result of inadequate care on Christmas Island, but a judge last month ruled the AS case proceed as an individual claim.

    About 35,000 asylum seekers in total were detained on Christmas Island between August 2011 and August 2014, the period covered by the class action claim.

  3. Terry2


    Yes, I had noted that case.

    The refugees and asylum seekers held on Manus and Nauru have to overcome an additional hurdle of having been intentionally removed from Australian jurisdiction in what was termed the ‘Guantanamo strategy’ where those who had legitimate reasons to access the protection of the courts were removed from the jurisdiction of those courts. A cute and clever move adopted by both the Rudd and Abbott administrations.

    Those on Christmas Island were, of course, still within the reach of the Australian courts, hence Christmas Island is not used much for ‘indefinite’ detention any more despite all the millions we spent on outfitting the joint.

  4. Frank Smith

    John, I would add Defence spending on big boys toys like Subs and Joint Strike Fighters to the three areas you suggested are available to cut massively. But of course that has to be quarantined and even ramped up massively by the Coalition.

  5. babyjewels10

    I weep for our lost decency. Can we ever regain it, I wonder? I have my doubts. It seems both sides of Parliament are as bad as each other.

  6. Matters Not

    Dutton will be long remembered because of his comment in Cabinet when during the discussion of whether to extend ministerial powers or let the courts/judges decide – Dutton argued – the problem of letting judges decide was some of the accused might ‘get off’. Yep – some of the accused might be found not guilty.

    Was never ever going to happen under Dutton. So much for the Rule of Law.

    For those who can’t imagine Dutton driving the political bus – from the driver’s seat and not from the backseat as now. We said the same about Abbott. It’s entirely possible!

  7. helvityni

    I was sooo pleased when Ian McPhee stepped up and condemned Dutton’s behaviour.

    Where are the other compassionate politicians, Turnbull and the rest of Liberals in power now…?

    Labor is awfully quiet too.

    Thank you Senator McKim !

  8. 245179

    Labor is awfully quiet too.

    And why not…..letting LNP dig their hole deeper and deeper, and doing it wonderfully. ( worst govt in my lifetime )

  9. Sir ScotchMistery

    Labor is fully in sync with what is happening.

    They also, are to blame.

  10. Freethinker

    If Ian McPhee have the guts he should not only condemned Dutton but all the party that support him and the party policies that are asking him to implement.
    Dutton will be removed if Turnbull and the ministers were not agree with the management of his portfolio.

    This government and Abbott’s administration as well have breached international laws and when we think that they have re elected it have to say a lot about the Australian people that voted for them.

    Meanwhile the ALP is quite to see how the potential voters react to all this. Filthy politics!!

  11. Freethinker

    Why, because all the Liberals support this behavior or give more value holding their seat that human rights.
    The ALP? well perhaps they have their hands dirty with issues in their last government and if they talk the Coalition will reply with something that the ALP does not want to bring to the open.
    helvityni, we do not see massive protests about this, chances are that thousands and thousands of people do not care less or approve to close the borders at any costs, be human life or international laws.

  12. helvityni

    So sad, Freethinker, I’m always hoping …

  13. Kyran

    “Talking about Dutton, I predicted last week that he would get away with his lies about the men and a boy on Manus Island. I’m still thinking the same.”
    Having read helvityni’s link, I’m not so sure. Cassidy lost all credibility, IMO, in 2013.

    “ABC presenter Barrie Cassidy has resigned from a government board at the insistence of Attorney-General George Brandis, following his appointment by Labor the day after the election was called.”

    “The minister explained to me that he has a high regard for me personally, but nevertheless has (a) concerns about the process leading up to the appointment; and (b) a strong view that it is not appropriate to have anybody currently involved in the political process, whether they be politicians or journalists, sitting on boards such as these,” Cassidy said in his resignation letter.
    “He prefers people retired from any involvement in politics and I respect that view.
    “I accepted the offer in good faith and the minister accepts that I was unwittingly caught up in the process.””

    Way back then, October, 2013, he should have told brandy to stick it. Right where the sun don’t shine.
    Having said that, and having listened to many of his insipid interviews of his ‘political masters’ over the ensuing years, this one seems to have brought the ‘old’ Cassidy back. In the off chance he needs further verification, he could try his colleague, Eric Tlozek. He could try Behrouz Boochani. He could try Nick McKim. He could try the local parliamentarian, or the local police chief.
    Having goggled various sites, there were several references to his twitter thingy. The likes of Jason Ball and Michelle Grattan seem to be in furious agreement.
    Maybe, the ‘old’ Cassidy will start biting, instead of barking. Fancy a journalist doing his job?
    As for dutton, you could never dig a hole deep enough. The likes of hanson will rake over the ground, feeding off the remains.
    As to #3, “Given the history of the party room on other matters it may not even pass a vote. What an embarrassment that would be for the PM.”
    Now that he has met with the dumpster, it won’t be a problem. Any dissent is fake, not even worthy of news worthiness.
    For what it’s worth, Ms Triggs got the Voltaire Award. Fancy the protector of free speech, so often vilified by those who hate free speech (dependent on the speaker), being awarded?
    Thank you Mr Lord and commenters. Take care

  14. Max Gross

    The disintegration of Australian democracy as we think we know it – and the rights we assume even though we have NO Bill of Rights – continues apace. Pure LNP!

  15. Sir ScotchMistery

    Was rather wonderful to see in one of the moredick rags, a Sud Afrikaan whinging about the award to Gillian Triggs and how shocked he was that such an award could ever be going to someone such as the eminently qualified Ms Triggs.

    As if a Sud Afrikaan would ever grasp the nature of free speech, even just as a thought process.

  16. Win jeavons

    Of course the COALition have a plan . It is just that it is so outrageously unfair and undemocratic that they dare not disclose it to the public. Only their inner circle are privy to its real nature.

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