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If only Dutton and Morrison weren’t so mean

In June 2018, when the world broke into uniform outrage over the forced separation and detention of illegal migrant children in the United States, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was quick to stomp on any hope for the men, women and children trapped on Nauru and Manus Island: “ …the last few years could be undone overnight by a single act of compassion in bringing 20 people from Manus to Australia,” he stated.

Several months later and community anger has grown. Recent News Corp polling shows the majority of Australians want children and their families removed from Nauru. Yet Prime Minister Scott Morrison (himself previously responsible for the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio) and Minister Dutton, supported by the whole swathe of hard-right conservative politicians, are holding strong.

In what can only be described as nonsensical lunacy and manipulative fuckwittery, Morrison, Dutton, and now Abbott, insult the collective intelligence of Australians. They insist that ceasing the relentless and intentional torture of innocent men, women and children on Nauru and Manus Island will result in a flood of asylum seeker boats attempting to reach Australian shores.

Not content with sprouting this contemptuous bile across every media platform willing to accept it, the ruling overlords in Canberra are actively sabotaging every effort to bring detainees to Australia. The Government has launched a new legal bid to challenge the ability of the Federal Court to order humanitarian evacuations. It has thwarted Labors attempt to compromise on New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees by swiftly backing down on a bipartisan deal for the resettlement option.

This is sour news for everyone who listened to Morrison’s faux-impassioned apology to victims of child sexual abuse: “Why were the cries of children and parents ignored?” he asked. “Why was our system of justice blind to injustice?” he continued. “Why has it taken so long to act?” he questioned. “Why were other things more important than this, the care of innocent children?” he queried. “Why didn’t we believe?” he carried on, before further stating, “And our work does not stop at our borders.”

How many more leaked reports of the devastating trauma and abhorrent abuse of children in detention, Forgotten Children reports, and pleas from medical professionals (including those who have treated children on Nauru), do Morrison and Dutton intend to ignore? How much more evidence is required beyond the cache of available literature, for Morrison and Dutton to acknowledge that the indefinite detention of children is causing irreversible and catastrophic harm?

Yet at every turn the soulless conservatives rely on the manifestly erroneous opinion and blatant falsehood that the cruel, slow deaths of people fleeing persecution, war and genocide is necessary to prevent the return of the boats.

And Prime Minister Morrison and Minister Dutton must know it is a blatant falsehood, or they are beastly careless as to the truth.

Or are they simply incapable of comprehending the complexity, ambiguities and consequences of their own asylum seeker policy?

No doubt Morrison and Dutton are beholden by a fear, genuine or not, that any shift in the hardline policy will result in the renewed influx of leaky boats and drownings. There seems no doubt that they are frightened (or at least pretend to be) that just the tiniest sliver of hope for those destined to die in tent-camps in a remote island prison will send people-smugglers into a frenzy of ticket-selling for a journey to the promised land.

But a fervent belief does not make it true. Repeatedly saying the same falsehood out loud does not turn that erroneous assertion into fact. The Government has before it all the information it needs to successfully transition away from indefinite detention and still protect Australia’s borders. There is no plausible reason to continue the indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers in offshore processing centres.

The boat turnback policy, actualised through the military-led Operation Sovereign Borders, stemmed the tide of asylum seekers reaching Australia. This is now indisputable and must be accepted across the full range of the political spectrum. As social scientist and public intellectual Robert Manne opines, this is supported not only by the evidenced consequences of the Howard government resettling hundreds of refugees in Australia during 2005-2007 at the height of its own boat turnback and offshore processing regime, but also the lack of any people-smuggler action when Turnbull announced the US resettlement deal in 2016.

More compelling, however, is the view of former Australian Border Force Commissioner, Roman Quaedvlieg, who was sacked by the Governor-General on 15 March 2018 for tenuous and frankly unbelievable reasons. In his former official role, Quaedvlieg sat on the Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Taskforce and was responsible for briefing the respective Minister which included during his tenure, Morrison and Dutton, and others in parliament. Quaedvlieg knows intimately the role Operation Sovereign Borders had on quelling the influx of asylum seeker boats.

In a recent op-ed and also in his regular Tweets, Quaedvlieg maintains that evacuating the offshore processing centres and bringing all the current detainees to Australia for medical treatment, while resettlement options are canvassed and arranged, will not give a green light to people-smugglers. At worst, he accepts that there may be some exploratory ventures, but Quaedvlieg notes that this would likely happen in light of upcoming federal election anyway. Quaedvlieg’s pragmatic and politically palatable solution breaks the impasse and is grounded in reality.

The former Australian Border Force Commissioner’s position is backed up by Shaun Hanns, a former Home Affairs department official who was responsible for processing asylum seeker claims. Hanns quit his role in mid-October and provided parliamentarians with an extensive letter which analysed the interception activity of boat turnbacks. He admits that he initially supported Australia’s harsh deterrence regime, but is now of the belief that the ongoing and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers is “not just tragic but meaningless”.

What is behind Morrison and Dutton’s refusal to show even a semblance of humanity? Sacrificing the lives of children to appeal to the racist voters in marginal seats is inexcusable. There is no moral high ground in torturing innocent people to prevent others from boarding boats. “Groupthink” is a plausible explanation for why it has taken so long for moderate Coalition party members to break ranks. The psychological theory known as “cognitive dissonance” partly explains the warped justification for ongoing detention.

But nothing explains the sheer callousness and cruelty displayed by the likes of Morrison and Dutton who have right before them the evidence that Operation Sovereign Borders secured Australian waters, and equally so, that indefinite detention is causing catastrophic harm.

There are only two conclusions to be drawn. Dutton, and Morrison alike, are so incapable of absorbing irrefutable fact, so oblivious to bluntly delivered information, and so manifestly inadequate at assessing matters of significant public interest, they are not fit to hold office.

Or they are simply the meanest politicians Australia has ever seen.

 


29 comments

  1. Roscoe

    I dont understand why mothers still send their children to Duttons mainland detention camps, sorry, child care centers

  2. Adrianne Haddow

    Morrison and Dutton have enriched several private companies ( Transfield aka Broadspectrum, Serco, and others whose names have slipped my memory) tasked with setting up and running these concentration camps. They will not be happy to see the end of the cash cow.

    Add to this, the fact that the detention centre money has provided a nice little earner for the corrupt Nauru government. I may be wrong but I think the Australian largesse is the only significant income the Nauruans have, now the previous income from money laundering for assorted criminal groups has stopped.
    This could also explain the Nauruan government’s attempts to prevent sick refugees leaving the island for treatment.

    Another shameful period in Australia’s history, re-shaping Australian values to suit the very worst of the electorate.

  3. Susan

    Other than innocent children’s lives destroyed!!! There is no justification

    $400,000 per child to keep in offshore detention
    $40,000 to be processed in Australia

    Mean, vindictive, soulless men in control of our country

  4. helvityni

    “Where the bloody hell are you”, Scomo was shouting earlier on …

    Then he sent some to the very same hell, and wants to keep them there…..

    Is he ever wondering why even the foreign fruit-pickers will be hesitant to come here, and are leaving Oz before their time is up… never mind the tourists; the world is watching..

  5. Diannaart

    Dutton, Abbott, Morrison (DAMn), also wish to convince us that the majority of refugees (in the millions) are cashed up enough for a virtual armada of boats to wash up on Australia’s shores.

    Most refugees simply do not have money for smugglers.

    http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2017/

  6. helvityni

    The asylum seekers/refugees who managed to land here were ‘ having a go’, they attempted to have a better life… What happened to the promised follow-up; sadly they were NOT given ‘ a go’…. They were punished instead…

  7. terence mills

    Tony Abbott, ever the helpful contributor on 2GB, said yesterday to Ray Hadley :

    Mr Abbott said refugees and asylum seekers “are being very well looked after on Nauru”.

    “Health services on Nauru for boat people are much more extensive than the health services that a lot of regional towns get here in Australia,” he said. “Nauru is no hellhole by any means, I’ve been there. If you like living in the tropics, it’s a very, very pleasant island.”

    The question is : will Tony be going to Nauru or Manus for his summer holidays. I would be happy to make a contribution to crowd-funding him.

    But Tony, always remember that offshore detention is forever !

  8. Phil

    Well said Eva. These two characters really are heinous bastards. I suspect there is also an element of personal political ego at play as well – both men have been backed into a corner and it’s now a battle of wills – who wins the fight has become the goal – the hapless imprisoned children are a distant almost irrelevant consideration.

    Don’t be surprised to find boats suddenly ‘breaking through’ the huge border force on water cordon to our north as we approach the 2019 election – an election that threatens to terminate, permanently the ignominious reign of this bastard Liberal Party. These pricks will play dirty with innocent lives such is their pathological hatred of the Labor Party and its unflappable leader, Bill Shorten.

  9. terence mills

    Phil

    Border Force have been known to bribe people smugglers in the past !!

  10. Josephus

    Thanks to all for helpful comments.

    If these camps are like resorts, why aren’t various Greens MPs allowed to visit? Why would doctors and nurses tell lies? We would see photos of the swimming pools, clinics or whatever and dismiss the horrific accounts, maybe. Mind you, that wild fancy reminds me of the musicians playing at Theresienstadt (Terezin) I think it was, who after the Red Cross had been and gone, were sent up the chimney.

    Repeat a lie often enough: pure Goebbels.
    Send them here, send them elsewhere safe, but release them, damn it.

  11. New England Cocky

    “In what can only be described as nonsensical lunacy and manipulative fuckwittery, Morrison, Dutton, and now Abbott, insult the collective intelligence of Australians. They insist that ceasing the relentless and intentional torture of innocent men, women and children on Nauru and Manus Island will result in a flood of asylum seeker boats attempting to reach Australian shores.”

    This over generalisation debating strategy is used by politicians of limited intelligence because it is supposed to sweep away all opposition without further comment and without allowing any questioning of the speaker’s born-to-rule position in an elitist fascist state.

    @Susan: Yes, the numbers definitely favour mainland processing, but the Liarbral Notional$ misgovernment are the world’s best money managers and those statistics are obviously different to the propaganda produced from too many Ministerial press agents. Can’t count and don’t care because “I am right” is the ingrained attitude of Liarbral Notional$ politicians.

    Then the other benefit of paying out to foreign owned multinational prison corporations is the possibility of a director’s position when the politician finally leaves politics … for what ever reason.

    @Diannart: The present Gladly Back-flip-I-can NSW Liarbral Notional$ misgovernment has a policy of facilitating the citizenship applications for all North Asian investors who purchase in the inflated Sydney residential housing market and hold their investment for at least four years, at which time their Australian citizenship application will be given priority processing.

    This policy fits in with the communist PRC government policy of external migration of young Chinese entrepreneurs to other parts of the world where they receive government support to develop businesses expected to become self-sustaining with about three years.

    Our optimal solution may be to get out and be an active campaigner in the lead up to the 2018/2019 Federal election.

  12. Diannaart

    NEC

    There are levels of wealth which confers immunity from the usual laws. Refugees may be able to scrape together the few thousand demanded by smugglers, but multi-billionaires are considered worthwhile courting.

  13. Cool Pete

    It’s criminal! One can only hope that Dutton’s kids follow in Niklas Frank’s footsteps and develop the same hatred for their father he has of his. (his father was Hans Frank, the Governor of Nazi-occupied Poland, who was hanged as a top ten Nazi at Nuremberg). Dutton is VERY LUCKY that I’m not deciding the evil bastard’s fate!

  14. Sir Cynic

    One can imagine both Morriscum and dutton pulling the wings off flies as children. Now they are “grow-ups” allegedly, they satisfy their lust for cruelty by torturing refugees. They, along with abbutt, are out-and-out racists, taught at the knee by howard, our Master Racist.

  15. Stephengb

    In spite of the dumb comments and remarks com8ng out of the leaders in the LNP, these people are intelligent and educated people. This means that there lies are deliberate and calculating, and that in turn means a nastiness, devpide of any empathy or care about the asyum seekers, nor 9n fact abpit the Aistraloan public, other than their ideological friends.

    If ever there was an example of pure elitistism these lot are the personification.

  16. Kronomex

    Morrison, Dutton, and Abbott are well and truly summed up (slightly paraphrased) by my favourite saying which comes from the Three Stooges, “Everytime they think they weaken the nation.”

    Brain eating amoebas would starve to death if they invaded the skulls of those three scumbags.

    Oh jeez, this something else The Spud could take control of if he could –

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/30/universities-warn-against-defence-plans-to-increase-control-over-research

  17. Jon Chesterson

    ‘If only Dutton and Morrison weren’t so mean’… said the mouse in the lion’s den.

    ‘And now there is a plague’ roared the lion.

    A million mice swallowed the lion, from within and without and now there are no more lions in the den.

    If only democracy actually worked like that, there might be no more plagues and mean lions.

    [Barddy’s Fable]

    Great piece Eva, manna from heaven, the Liberal den is about to be evicted.

  18. SteveFitz

    Great article and posts. From what we have seen the LNP have no humanitarian intent at all and, that flows into ignoring the best interest of every-day Australians. It exposes who and what the LNP leadership really are and one starts to question how and why they got here?

    Pushing to privatise and undermining the ABC plays into the hands of the media giants and that is exactly what the LNP have done. I think the right wing are more easily controlled and manipulated by big business if Morrison fondling a piece of coal in parliament is anything to go by.

    To be so easily controlled, you need to be willing or stupid and by their very actions, the LNP have proven precisely that. In addition, voters are being manipulated by right wing media who are a thorn in the side of real politicians and, that interferes with the democratic process.

    Of course, at election time, the LNP need lots of money to pay for their support from right wing media and that’s where their corporate cronies come in with political donations. Without that three-way coalition the LNP would perish.

    To you beautiful children on Nauru please stay strong, good Australians are fighting for your freedom, with tears in our eyes, just as we are fighting for our own true democracy. And, you kids symbolise what that fight is all about. One day we will embrace you and you will be our heroes.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Cast your mind back to 2012…..

    Prime Minister Gillard said if the legislation passed both houses of Parliament, the Government would agree to reopen the detention centre on Nauru, set up an inquiry into the use of temporary protection visas and implement Labor’s plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia.

    “The proposed Malaysian solution – what a hideous term it is – is in fact a trade in human flesh,” Liberal frontbencher Bronwyn Bishop told Parliament. “It is swapping human beings from point A to point B, and it is totally and utterly unacceptable to this side of the House.”

    Mr Keenan said he did not question the sincerity of MPs on either side of politics as they grappled with the border protection issue, but he did not believe Australia should be sending asylum seekers to Malaysia.

    An emotional Joe Hockey said he could not accept the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia without proper human rights protections.

    The Opposition offered to support increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake to 20,000 per year in a bid to win support for its amendments. And it restated its offer to support the Government’s push to restore offshore processing if it took Malaysia off the table.

  20. terence mills

    While casting our minds back, let’s not forget a certain wrecker who sought to bring down our government to satisfy his own ego :

    Mr Dutton described himself as a “better person” and a “person of greater strength and integrity to lead the Liberal Party” than the Member for Wentworth (Malcolm Turnbull).

  21. SteveFitz

    Kaye Lee – The LNP looked pretty nice in opposition? – WHAT HAPPENED!!! – Did they figure, be nice and people will vote for us? There are what, 76 in the senate and another 150 in the house. That’s 226 federal politicians and all there’s good for is storing carbon. Unlike the other 25 million of us. Bloody hell….. Geez I say that a lot. Each year we bring in 185,000 permanent immigrants and 420,000 temps. And our polies are saying: “We can’t look after 100 children born on Nauru”. Right, we need a pre-election promise from Labor.

  22. SteveFitz

    Thanks Eva – I think we are getting somewhere.

    5 years in prison for jumping the que? Put yourself in their position. You’re a refugee and you’re going to utopia; Would you risk 5 years in prison for jumping the que or would you go through the proper channels like the other 17,555 refugees last year. These are our refugees, so they are our responsibility. I believe they have paid their debt to society and some.

    Bring them to Australia. There are 583 recognised refugees left in PNG, and 821 recognised refugees on Nauru, as of 21 May 2018. Leave the empty detention centres open, for now, to appears the PNG and Nauru governments and test the system. Kids get priority. Total refugees for the year, around 18,900.

  23. SteveFitz

    Josephus – None of us like to be branded for what our leaders sometimes do. I know I don’t like it. You’re among friends here. When I was 17, I went to take my girlfriend out and her mother asked if I would like to come in for dinner. I had already had a big baked dinner, so I said no thanks, I’ll wait on the porch.

    The next Friday the father came to the door and said; “When someone offers you something accept it graciously – It makes them feel better”. “Would you like to come in for dinner?” Instead of saying I’ve just had a giant baked dinner I said – Yes please that would be lovely.

    When the Mom brought the roast to the table I swear, it looked like a Cape Buffalo. She said I hope you’re hungry, with Dad down the other end banging the table saying, “I’m starving.” It was a set-up. Not having a son, they didn’t realise that a 17-year-old boy could eat a horse and chase the rider. So, I had seconds and, ice cream for desert.

    I said to Julie – Are your parents always this nice? In her slow, deep voice she said – “Not usually, they’re just trying to impress you”. I said how many Cape Buffalos do I get if I marry you. In her slow, deep voice she said, “You just ate it”. On the way out, the old man said, “Anyone who can eat that much ice cream is a better man than me”.

    Josephus – I’m offering you knowledge, and as we have already discussed, that’s power. Open the The Hebrew Bible, any book, point to a paragraph, and transcript it here. Not “3rd Edition” or “The End” somewhere in the middle. It’s called having a go and, that is also power.

  24. terence mills

    Just a reminder that the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea found that detention of people in PNG in circumstances where they had not committed a crime nor been convicted and sentenced under the judicial system of PNG was unconstitutional and that those detained on Manus had to be released.

    Dutton, in an act of profound cynicism, arranged for the detainees to be allowed to move around within the Manus community and then deemed them not to be detained but,of course still restricted to the island.

    If the constitutional position on Nauru were to be tested it would undoubtedly go the same way but unfortunately the judicial system on Nauru has collapsed. Even so, Dutton opened the detention centres so that detainees could walk around during daylight hours and thus he maintains they too are not in detention : then you have Abbott’s observations which are designed to imply that these people might actually be on holidays.

    We are dealing with some very tricky people here !

  25. SteveFitz

    Terence – From your observation, we are dealing with some very sick and deranged people here. If we locked them in a padded cell, it would do the rest of us the world of good.

  26. Matters Not

    So it would seem that the government ‘s had a change of heart re offshore detention. One wonders why. What’s changed? Mike Seccombe explores the timelines and the rationale:

    it began with Rupert Murdoch’s conservative tabloid newspapers firmly on the bandwagon.

    That morning, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph ran a heartwarming picture of a young child, born into detention on Nauru, on its front page.

    Inside, across two pages, there were more pictures, along with an emotive account of the lives of the “stateless babies” and the other “unseen children” living in mouldy tents, sharing dirty bathrooms, playing with donated toys on the “rocky remnants of a phosphate mine and staring through the wire fences of the camp”.

    Powerful evidence re who drives the political bus.

    As a Murdoch newspaper source told The Saturday Paper this week: “Whatever else you might say about News Corp, we can see which way the wind is blowing.”

    In the months before that story ran, the source said, editorial decision-makers at News Corp had divined that popular opinion was rapidly shifting on offshore detention, and that they should start shifting with it – for business as much as for humanitarian reasons. Like political parties, populist media is poll-driven.

    https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/media/2018/11/03/how-murdoch-got-the-kids-nauru/15411636007093

    As the election approaches it on the cards that Murdoch will suddenly decide that Shorten’s the one. He likes to be on the winning side – even if it’s only at the last minute.

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