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If it’s not in writing, it never happened

By Terence Mills

According to the UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi Australia had failed to honour a “clear understanding” that vulnerable refugees held offshore with family in Australia could be reunited with them and resettled in Australia.

The UNHCR have been involved in facilitating the resettlement of refugees from Manus and Nauru to the USA as part of the deal agreed by Malcolm Turnbull with the Obama administration. A deal that Trump has summarised as being dumb.

Now, it seems that the whole deal may be in jeopardy because of this childish insistence by Dutton, in particular, that none of the detainees will ever be settled in Australia – or for that matter New Zealand. It just seems that Peter Dutton has a vested interest in keeping these people in detention for base political reasons: he seems committed to blocking any sensible resolution to this problem.

What is clear is that somebody on the Australian side involved in the numerous meetings and negotiations gave an undertaking to the UNHCR that encouraged them to offer assistance in the resettlement program. What the UNHCR are probably now wishing is that they had got this undertaking in writing: they probably thought that they were dealing with honourable people and that our word could be trusted. However, as most Australians would have told them, if it’s an agreement with Peter Dutton, always get it in writing and if you shake hands on it, always count your fingers afterwards. It amazes me that meetings at this level are not Minuted, how do they ever agree on what was agreed?

Dutton insists that there was never any such understanding with the UNHCR and if it’s not in writing it has never happened: now, I wonder where he got that line from?

In the meantime the coalition are gearing up to convince the Australian electorate that only they can be trusted on border security and that a change in government (to Labor) would signal to people smugglers that government policy has been relaxed. This cynical tactic by the coalition acts at two levels. It tells the Australian voter that you can’t trust Labor on border security and it tells people smugglers in Indonesia that there will be a change in policy with a change of government. In that sense it cynically acts against the national interest.

Right on cue Air Vice-Marshal and Operation Sovereign Borders Commander Stephen Osborne has today warned a change in government could spark a new wave of asylum seekers to Australia. His assessment is that a change in minister or government could be a risk to border security. Obviously the Air Vice-Marshall is no master of subtlety but he does know on which side his bread is buttered but he seems to be implying that his border security operations are far from secure.

The tragedy for the wretched asylum seekers held on these islands, now for four years – a people smuggler would attract a lesser sentence on conviction – is that once again they are to be used as political pawns as the coalition gears up for the next election on border security.


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  1. Max Gross

    The LNP have NEVER wanted to resolve the issue of asylum seekers. They LOVE it and have gleefully, cold-bloodedly, disdainfully used and abused helpless, desperate people seeking OUR help for base political purposes. Sickeningly, it has worked for them since 2001 when John Lying Rodent Howard sicced the SAS onto refugees saved from drowning by the Norwegian merchant ship Tampa. Australia, the gutless country!

  2. diannaart

    The LNP has dismantled much of Labor’s policies, but not the one which requires empathy, compassion and understanding.

  3. helvityni

    Max, totally agree with your comment, and may I add that I wasn’t impressed with Leigh Sales’ rude interviewing style with the UNHCR representative.

  4. Matters Not

    helvityni, re Sales and he interview with the UNHCR rep. In the introduction to the 7.30 Report, Leigh’s teaser was that she would grill that person. Of course when it comes to grilling, Leigh’s weapon of torture tends to be of the feather variety – particularly if they’re from the government.

    Her BBQs specialise in anemic salads.

  5. Roswell

    They’ll leave them locked up to use as political pawns for the next twenty elections if they had their chance.

  6. Rossleigh

    Matters Not, first the comfy chair…

    Then, fear surprise and…

    No, first fear, surprise and the soft cushions…

    Wait, I’m confused. Well, at least it wasn’t the Spinach Indigestion!

  7. Freethinker

    Remember what Abbott said, quote: “Let’s remember that everyone in these centres is there because he or she has come illegally by boat. They have done something that they must have known was wrong,”

  8. Matters Not

    Very clever Rossleigh. And yes I needed your link to illuminate.

  9. wam

    dutton knows the culture and has succeeded within the culture.

    The attack on ludwig will show the weakness of the labor goody goodies who languish under the thrall of any bleeding heart activists: the resulting trilogy.
    Labor doesn’t have the balls to stop the boats
    The know how to control spending
    the means to stop terrorism.

  10. Barry Thompson.

    Should Air Vice-Marshal Osborne, as a serving member of our defence force become politically involved?

  11. Kronomex

    Rossleigh, you forgot to mention THE RACK.

    Il Duttonuci. Has an original thought ever passed through that…oh yes, forgot to mention who he reminds me of: Vacuous, dull, paranoid, a nobody raised to a level of power (that anyone with sense would be afraid of) that can only corrupt him even more. The only thing he didn’t do is raise chickens.

  12. amethyst3009

    Barry Thompson., my thoughts exactly as I read this.I was under the distinct impression that the military were to be politically neutral. His comments are far from neutral, implying that the country is only safe under an lnp government. (Note lower case!)

  13. John

    I though public servants could be sacked for making political comments. Imagine the uproar if Gillian Triggs had said something like this.

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