From “The Sydney Morning Herald:
“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has received Donald Trump’s personal assurance that a deal for the US to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island will go ahead, despite the US President’s harsh immigration policies sending shockwaves around the world…
“Mr Turnbull’s office declined to comment on the 25-minute phone call with Mr Trump. Fairfax Media has been told the President confirmed his administration would honour last year’s agreement, though it remains unclear how many of the roughly 2000 asylum-seekers held on Nauru and Manus Island will be resettled in the US.
Under the Obama deal, final details, including the number to be resettled, were not expected to be nailed down until the second half of this year, after US officials scrutinised applications and carried out security checks.”
Ok, now I really hope I’m wrong, but it does strike me that this is one of those ones where you say something’s happening and if we all go, “That’s good,” and forget about it then there’s really no problem. However, being a cynical sort of chap, I do have to wonder about three things in the SMH report.
1. Why, if the deal is going ahead, did Mr Turnbull’s office decline to comment?
2. “Fairfax media has been told that the President confirmed his administration would honour last year’s agreement…” BY WHOM? Turnbull’s office is declining to comment about the phone call, Trump’s press release merely said that they were happy that Australia is happy to do whatever the US wants in return for having its tummy-tickled while the President says, “Who’s a good boy then!”, so who was this anonymous person who told Fairfax about the agreement? Was it the same person who led the ABC and The Australian to “understand” that the deal was going ahead?
3. How on earth does it take the USA nearly a year to check out people who’ve had Australia checking them out for the past four years? Do they have to check everything again? And then check the people doing the checking?
Of course, if someone connected to the government was briefing journalists “off the record”, then why is it off the record? And if it’s on the record, why not say a spokesman for Mr Turnbull or the Minister for Information and Newspeak told us the Mr Trump said such and such. Surely, journalists would ask why they’re being briefed off the record, why this isn’t official statement! Surely, they wouldn’t just report someone saying, “Look, I can’t tell you this officially but Mr Trump said that he was totally ok with the deal, but we just have to say nothing for now, but you can report that it’s on. Trust me, I’m saying this on behalf of the people who are declining to comment. Yes, the deal is going ahead and the US will take some of the people on Manus and Nauru. No, we don’t know how many. No, we don’t know when. But it’s definite. No problem. Rock solid guarantee. Trump said he’ll take any that fit the criteria. What criteria is that? Not sure, it was a quick phone call and Malcolm only had time to ask how he was doing and to make a couple of jokes and to say that he was hoping that the TPP wasn’t dead yet, but if it is, well, that’s ok, because the USA has no truer friend than Australia even if, Mr President, I had to spend the first five minutes on of the call waiting while you found it on a map. We still love you, even if you love another more. Well, the criteria might be that they’re not Muslims. Or from Syria or Iran. Or any one of a number of other countries. And, of course, they can’t be law-breakers. No, being an “illegal immigrant” doesn’t count. Why not? Um, look, I’m just speaking of the record here so I don’t have any actual information, but you can just write that it’s going ahead, ok, and we can all get back to worrying about Jobs and Growth… Sorry, don’t mention growth. Jobs and innovation.”
For the sake of those on Manus and Nauru, I really hope I’m wrong. I really hope we see something official in the next few days, but given this government’s lack of follow-through with even the things they’ve announced, I have to wonder when Turnbull’s office is declining to comment. But hey, Mr Turnbull is probably preparing a press release as I write this and there’ll be a big announcement and a timetable for when the people on Nauru will be re-settled. And even a timetable for the ones on Manus who were found to be being held “illegally”. Yeah, all ok now. We can go back to sleep.
P.S. I’ve started tagging a lot of my posts “climate change” in order to waste the time of paid climate change deniers who’ll read the whole thing and then wonder why there’s nothing they can be commenting on. Alternatively, they may comment anyway, which’ll just prove that they’re not really interested in “discussing the science”. My apologies if you read it because you feel that you desperately needed to be informed about the topic and haven’t realised that you’ve probably read enough things that should prompt you to actually start doing something to counter the misinformation out there!