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Day to Day Politics: THAT phone call. My view.

Sunday 6 August.

So barbaric was the tone that I thought I was reading a not so subtle modern-day day form of 18th century slave trading. Here we had two leaders of the civilized world discussing the fate of some 2000 humans as if they were cattle.

People who have suffered the full force of Australia’s unique version of fairness by being incarcerated for not having committed a crime may – judging by the tone of the conversation between these two civilized men – turn out to be life sentences.

What struck me was the sheer absence of humanity. Turnbull knows that these people have been languishing in these hellholes created by his government in order to make a point to others who might come, for years.

The absenteeism of human warmth, one to another, of empathy or compassion for people who are suffering and the callous disregard for their fate, I found to be deeply scandalous.

The stain of bad Australian blood insinuates itself on these hellholes of our own construction because our own leadership, indeed our own governance, is represented by men and women of ill repute.

From the reports I have read there seems to be a consensus that Malcolm matched him, that he gave more than he got, as if there was a certain gratification in our Prime Minister having gone 13 rounds with the greatest man in the world and came out on top. The mainstream media has lost its objectivity.

The Australian newspaper called it his finest hour.

Here is an example:

“You can decide to take (the refugees) or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process … It does not require you to take any … We are taking people from the previous administration that they were very keen on getting out of the United States. We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take.”

What I see lies beyond this meaningless exchange between two men full of their own immoral emptiness. It is a world where men and women strut their stuff in the murky waters of ambiguity. Where trust and truth are withering under the onslaught of self-importance power and narcissism.

It is a world in which history is just an ongoing commentary on the incompetence of men.

In 2012 Malcolm was enjoying a turn on the speaking circuit. In his Winterton lecture he said:

“In case you think my call for a change of attitude and practice to truth in politics is just idealism – let me make a practical political point. It seems to me that we don’t simply have a financial deficit; we have a deficit of trust. We can argue for hours which side and which politicians, which journalists indeed, have contributed most to it. But it affects all of us and all of our institutions. The politicians and parties that can demonstrate they can be trusted, that they will not insult the people with weasel words and spin, that they will not promise more than they can deliver, that they will not dishonestly misrepresent either their own or their opponents‟ policies – those politicians and parties will, I submit to you, deserve and receive electoral success.”

With these words the Prime Minister describes his hypocrisy, his characterless naked desire for power. That in spite of his fine eloquent words of political idealism the fact is that he is a liar.

You see the conversation between these two narcissists is not the story here, it’s the character of them that is.

An observation

“Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie .I can only conclude that there is always pain in truth but there is no harm in it”.

“His confession to Trump that it is a people swap shows his duplicity and lays bare the contempt he has for the Australian people and the truth,” Senator McKim said.

The Senator is correct we understood that the majority of refugees on Manus and Nauru would be re settled in the United States. Its unambiguous, that’s what he said.

The Prime Minister promised Australia would “hold up our end of the bargain by taking in our country [people] that you need to move on from”.

He then went further, offering to “take more” people and “take anyone that you want us to take … as long as they did not come by boat”.

“We would rather take a not-very-attractive guy that [helps] you out than to take a Nobel Peace Prize winner that comes by boat”.

On many occasions the Prime Minister has been asked about the connection between Central American refugees and he has always insisted that there is none.

Last September Turnbull said Australia’s acceptance of refugees from Costa Rica was “not linked to any other resettlement discussions” and was “not connected to any other arrangements”.

Sometime later, after the US deal was announced, Australian Minister for everything Peter Dutton said: “The Costa Rica arrangement had nothing to do with this deal and it’s not a people swap.”

“The agreement … does not require you to take 2000 people. It does not require you to take any,” Turnbull told the President.

“The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose – 1250 to 2000. Every individual is subject to your vetting.”

“You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process.”

If you seek truth, justice, integrity and a concern for human suffering from this conversation you will not find it. This conversation was about a deal. Not an honorable one where people, and our duty of care, might be the major concern but rather it was about a business deal and who might gain the most from it. It didn’t matter how far you had to lower your standards so long as you looked formidable.

As for the refugees who have done no wrong their defilement will continue and Australian values ridiculed.

Time will move on while

Death lurks with

Painful agony

Love its first victim

Goodness vanishes

Concern for

Suffering manifests

Truth a first causality

Faith is lost

Humanity stumbles

Uncertainty lingers

Depravity has no shame

Dreadful is the

Fear that seeks bravery

Some have more

Or less

Only the dead see the end of it

Still life lingers in

Humanities hope

Lest we forget

The suffering

Of those who fight with grace

Courage be their name

So I have interpreted this conversation a little differently than most of my fellow scribes. The shame that this episode brings to my country’s history weighs profoundly on my ageing heart. I deplore the likes of Dutton, Turnbull and Abbott but I cannot bring myself to hate them.

My thought for the day

“Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s wellbeing for the sake of it”.


  1. Pilot

    Great article John! Sadly the majority of Australians just do not know. They are oblivious to the dastardly deals of these morons in charge. Those of us who are more politically aware know these things, but Joe Blow doesn’t, and they just don’t care. Turnbull has always been a liar and a fraud of a human being. As for the rest of his fractious mob, stone the bloody crows, I wouldn’t feed any of them!!

  2. Regional Elder

    Foxtel (NewCorp) just received $300 million from the Turnbull Governmemt ostensibly to promote women’s sport, but in reality as payment for political services rendered. The integration between Murdoch’s media business and the Coalition government is now almost seamless, as the former provides a strident echo chamber endorsing all that the latter do, and neglecting all that the government fail to do, in the interest of Australian people.

    This is the national context within which the release of the Trump-Turnbull discussion about transferring asylum seekers ware-housed on Manus Island and Nauru has occurred. Here we have two self-styled successful businessmen cum politicians, revealing their ethics as the multi-millionaire laments to the billionaire, than some of these people are, shock horror, ‘ economic refugees ‘ , and having been labelled so under this dubious Australian neologism, really deserve to be detained without trial, for four years, or maybe, indefinitely.

    I agree with you John Lord, that this discussion between Turnbull and Trump stands neatly within the American tradition of the 18th century slave trade.

    Seems to me that Australia in its recent immigration policy history has added a variation to the meaning of ‘slave’ . Are not those ware-housed on Manus Island and Nauru, given their treatment by the Australian government nothing other than ‘slaves’ ? Sure they can return to their countries of origin to likely violence, death, torture or persecution, but instead, most have rejected this false choice offered to them by the Australian government and instead, they cling to life and hope, staying in a no-mans land. The Manus Island no-mans land is where instead of being forced to work unceasingly as a traditional slave would be required to do, these asylum seekers are provided with an seemingly endless existential void without hope, in a prison-like environment, and in a brutal system designed to steadily undermine their minds, more so than their bodies.

    Turnbull comes out of this conversation with Trump as a cynical callous and duplicitous people trafficker, or, to re-frame it, an unscrupulous slave trader offering some or all of this human cargo to Trump, for his own political purposes.

    Somehow, it all resonates with what Turnbull has done across all policy areas in the short time he has been Prime Minister. He seems to be competing with his immediate predecessor Tony Abbott to become the worst Prime Minister this country has had.

    But NewsCorp wouldn’t and couldn’t say that could they, now that he has offered them a cool $300 million. ?

  3. Kaye Lee

    In February, the dead-eyed dick-tater and Minister for Everything, P Duddy, said of the Costa Rica people swap deal “We wouldn’t take anyone until we had assurances that people were going to go off Nauru and Manus,”

    Yet Special Minister of State Scott Ryan had said “There is no basis at all for this allegation of [a] people swap. There will not be a people swap.”

    Dutton also said he expected refugee resettlement to the US to begin within “the next couple of months”. Six months later and we now know that was a load of crap from go to woe (emphasis on the woe part).

  4. Ricardo29

    I wonder if anything in this conversation shows that Turnbull, or Dutton, have lied to certainly shows Turnbull to be a cynical, immoral arsehole and poor old Donald, a pathetic creep concerned only with his own image though he does manage a few fairly pointed questions, if these people are as good as you say they are, why haven’t you allowed them in? Turnbull, hoist to his own petard.oh and RE, I think it’s 30 million, not 300.

  5. helvityni

    “Here we had two leaders of the civilized world discussing the fate of some 2000 humans as if they were cattle.”

    No, John, not like cattle. We make a song and dance about how badly some countries treat ‘our’ cattle before slaughtering them…and rightly so. We cry for beached whales, that most likely want to die…

    When it comes to asylum seekers it’s all quiet, or when ABC says something about the exchange, it’s from Mr Uhlmann:’ I believe Turnbull was the winner here,’

    I’m with Trump when he compliments Turnbull: ‘You are worse than me.’

    Two leaders of the ‘civilized’ world….???

    Now the White House wants all leaks stopped, public does not need to know about secret men’s business… Here we already know that our leaders don’t do ‘commentary’….

  6. Frank Smith

    Meanwhile, the “objects of the exercise”, that is real live people, languish in our island hellholes on Manus and Nauru.

  7. roma guerin

    The present situation on Manus is dire. The men have been making a silent protest in the form of a “march”, really just shuffling together around what is left of the camp. The water and power have been turned off. 9 hours ago on FB, 20 very sick men have been taken to hospital, and more are sickening, reportedly due to lack of water. The buildings are being demolished daily with heavy equipment. A substantial amount of this work was conducted at night, thereby preventing the men from sleeping because of the noise. They are being harassed by guards constantly to go to Lorengau, a sickeningly-named transit camp, which has the capacity for 200 inmates. Approximately 70 have lived there for some months, but there are around 800 still in the camp. No enlargement of the transit camp appears to be intended. Last weekend three men were subjected to horrific machete attacks by local people, I am concerned that their wounds will not be properly treated, the medical centre at the camp has been vacated. I can only post all the reports I receive on FB to my FB page, I don;t know how to share them elsewhere. I don’t imagine the MSM will report any of this.

  8. Terry2

    Regional Elder

    The amount given to Foxtel by the government was actually $30million but your point is correct.

    According to reports, the federal communications department has refused to release details about the $30 million in sports broadcasting funding given to Foxtel, because it says documents about the deal “do not exist”.

    There appears to be no paper trail for the $30 million contract, “Whatever was done about this deal, it certainly wasn’t written down.”

    If the money was to gain more coverage on under represented sports then logically it would have been given to a Free to Air broadcaster such as ABC or SBS , not to a PayTV company. It has become increasingly apparent that the coalition are wedded to PayTV and Ministers appear to be under a directive to appear only on Sky where interviews are guaranteed to be soft.

    I am hoping that the Labor Party grab hold of this in Question Time as it smacks of corruption.

  9. clinttbint

    Ergo the federal communications department is an oxymoron as opposed to all government members who are merely morons.

  10. Kyran

    As with roma guerin’s post, these are the words coming from those on Nauru. Other posts on their site are equally disturbing.

    “USA is just a lie. If our crime is escaping by boat, then PLEASE ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD RESCUE US BY PLANE! We will be Nobel Peace prize people for your country. If you don’t let us free, at least dump us back in the ocean. We are sick, we are tired, we just want to die. Please give us Amnesty!”

    Analysing the pro’s and con’s of policy, politics, character, etc, is not going to change the inevitable. These people will die whilst in our custody. Likewise, Mr Lord, it is a profound weight for an ageing heart to know that death’s in custody will be forever etched in Australian history.
    Thank you Mr Lord. Take care

  11. The AIM Network

    Kyran, for some reasons your comments haven’t been getting through. They’re now cleared.

    We will keep an eye on this issue.

  12. Keitha Granville

    Who are these people ? are they human ? or are they automatons in human skin ? That the Americans specifically chose their guy possibly makes them slightly more stupid than us, we rely on the parties to choose our leader: we were sold a dud.
    Daily I wonder how they can continue to sleep knowing what they have done, are still doing. Only those with the resolve of the Nazis could carry on day after day causing appalling suffering to another human, and still pretend it is doing anything to stem the flow of refugees.
    How about doing something to remove all those who have overstayed their tourist visas ? We could take in all those on Manus and Nauru if we removed these illegals from our shores. But they didn’t come on boats, they came in through the front door having made false declarations about their intent to stay on.
    Morally, ethically bankrupt, the entire parliament

  13. wam

    Is it not a probable truth that ‘boat people’ were a major factor in the demise of Juliar and the lemon?
    Is it possible the rabbott capitalised on the electorate’s fear of ‘illegals’?
    “As for the refugees who have done no wrong their defilement will continue and Australian values ridiculed.” That is the truth.
    Are economic refugees the equal to my understanding

    “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster”

    Are there men who, demonstrably, have done wrong, by leaving their wives and children behind?

    Is seeking asylum or claiming refugees status, under such circumstances, wrong? Is it illegal?

    Is it possible to conclude that:
    the money economic refugees used to pay for passage came from Australia?
    some or all commentators on refugees/illegal immigrants disingenuous?

    Nice thought, Lord, who could but agree that trumball’s advice to trump was honest and truthful(as was trump’s ‘you are worse than me’)?

    Truth is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s wellbeing for the sake of it”.

  14. Regional Elder

    Thanks Terry 2 for alerting me to my typo of $30 billion, …… which should have $30, million.
    I recollect I was thinking at the time how NewCorp received a refund from the ATO, of more than $800,000 a couple of years ago.

    And I agree with your comments entirely.

  15. Harquebus

    My opinion is that the attitude demonstrated by these two men is representative of those throughout the political and elite classes and that this attitude is not restricted towards just those in detention.

  16. guest

    Terry 2, hopefully the whole of the Coalition will be questioned relentlessly and mercilessly daily in Question Time with every variation of every question which can be asked about this sordid episode in the encumbrance of this chaotic government.

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