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Tag Archives: Peter Dutton

“He’s the closest to a statesman we have”

On Friday, Phil Coorey published an article in the AFR lauding the credentials of Peter Dutton as a future Prime Minister.

He quotes an unnamed Liberal colleague (but factional opponent) as saying “Everyone listens when Peter intervenes.  He’s the closest to a statesman we have.”

If any statement has shown how much trouble the Liberal Party is in, it’s that one.

Peter Dutton?  A statesman?

According to Wikipedia, “A statesman or stateswoman is usually a politician, diplomat or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career at the national or international level.”

Dutton has been in parliament for almost 17 and a half years so I guess you could call his career long, but respected?  For what?

After joining the Young Liberals and purchasing his first property at age 18, Peter Dutton first ran for parliament in the 1989 Queensland state election, less than a month after his 19th birthday.  He lost the 2PP vote 72.5% to 27.5%.

The next year, Dutton graduated from the Queensland police academy and then spent nine years as a police officer in a force reeling from corruption scandals whilst also “working” with his father in a building business – a business that operated under several different names and which continues to operate today.

He married in 1993 but it only lasted a few months.

On leaving the police in 1999, he completed a Bachelor of Business at the Queensland University of Technology before (or during) being elected to federal parliament in 2001 at age 30.  During the campaign, his Labor opponent Cheryl Kernot suggested that journalists should question why Dutton quit the police force when he did.  That question was never answered.

The next year he had a child out of wedlock and the year after that he married his current wife.

The following year, 2004, he was made Minister for Workforce Participation in the Howard government, a position he held until 2006 spanning the period of the development of the Workchoices legislation.

In January 2006 he was appointed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue and was questioned by Labor about a conflict of interest regarding childcare rebate legislation when his company owned several childcare businesses.

That year, he was also questioned about a 7-day trip he and his wife took to the US for which he claimed $75,000.

In 2008, Dutton chose to boycott the apology to the stolen generation because, in his opinion, it was meaningless symbolism.

As shadow health minister, he was completely silent.  When he became Minister, the medical profession voted him the worst in 35 years.

Dutton’s time as Immigration Minister has been no better.

His bullying of women like Gillian Triggs, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Sarah Hanson-Young has been shameful.  He also called journalist Samantha Maiden a “mad fucking witch”.

He was caught on a microphone laughingly joking about Pacific islands being inundated, and how they must be running on “Cape York time” as a reason a meeting was delayed.

He has refused medical assistance to suicidal children, lied about the cause of disturbances on Manus, and been singularly unsuccessful in finding resettlement options for the people stuck in detention camps.  He denies any responsibility for the refugees he has incarcerated offshore despite countless UN and legal directions that he has a duty of care that is not being met, resulting in many successful compensation claims.

The men he chose to command his new paramilitary Border Force both left in disgrace after having affairs with junior staff.

He uses his position to grant wishes as he pleases.  On the basis of a phone call from a member of the public, he overturned a court decision and had a man immediately taken into custody for deportation.  He ignored his own department’s advice, granting visas on two separate occasions to young women who arrived illegally to work as au pairs even though one was a repeat offender.  He refuses to say who the women were working for or who contacted him to overrule the Immigration authorities.

He has offended the South African government by offering asylum in a “civilised” country to white South African farmers.  He has been ridiculed by Melbournians after he claimed they were too scared to go out to dinner because of violence from “African gangs”.

Dutton’s department has been the subject of several scathing reports from the National Auditor with a lack of leadership, communication and accountability being blamed for poor workplace practices and outcomes.

Meanwhile Peter has been collecting investment properties, 6 so far, as well as having a family trust, a self-managed super fund, and interests in the building business and a childcare centre.

Interestingly, Peter’s great-great-grandfather was also a Queensland politician.

In 1887, the Queensland Figaro reported of Charles Boydell Dutton:

He knew he had “no case” so he “abused the other side”. He is a fool for his pains. He has made his Press opponents laugh at his helpless rage, and he has made those pressmen who excused and shielded him turn angry at his base ingratitude.

The same newspaper in 1884 described Charles as a “squatter of the squatters” and “an out and out Tory in the guise of a Liberal – a wolf in the guise of a lamb…”

Then again in 1887:

If he isn’t an idiot himself, he must fancy that the average elector is a born fool, or he would not attempt to gull him with such transparent rot as that with which he dosed the people at the Ipswich Show banquet.

It seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  It’s a pity our current journalists are not as astutely critical as their predecessors.

If this heartless, misogynistic, racist, lying, self-aggrandising buffoon is the best the Liberal Party has to offer, then they really need to overhaul their preselection process.

A long career sucking on the public teat does not make Dutton a statesman, just a conniving powerbroker whose only concern is his own enrichment.

Is Barnaby auditioning for a new band?

On Friday, Barnaby Joyce posted the following on his Facebook page:

The fastest growing sector of our economy is agriculture where farmers are doing the heavy lifting to keep the standard of living we take for granted. At the same time in South Africa, farmers are under attack, being murdered, raped and assaulted on their own property – something we would never accept in Australia. You are three to four times more likely to be murdered as a South African farmer than the average South African, with an average of two farm murders a week. After representations to my electorate office and at the Local Land Services farming seminar in Tamworth yesterday, I support Minister Peter Dutton’s push to give these people refuge in our nation because not only can we help them, they can also help us by moving into regional areas and helping grow our agricultural economy.

Dear oh dear, where to begin.

Let’s start with Barnaby’s claims about the agriculture industry’s contribution to the economy.

In 2015-16, output from the Services industry was $1,051.1 billion which represented a 61.1% share of GDP and 79.2% of all industry, employing 9.4 million people.  Agriculture’s output was $36.7 billion, which was a 2.2% share of GDP and 2.7% of all industry, employing about 300,000 people.

Whilst minerals and fuels still dominate exports, in FY2017, services exports were worth about A$81.6 billion. That was much larger than the value of exports of manufactures (about A$44 billion) or of exports of food (about A$43 billion).

As far as being the fastest growing industry is concerned, according to the March 2018 update from the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, in 2017-18, the gross value of farm production is forecast to decline by 5 per cent, the gross value of livestock production to increase by 2 per cent, and the gross value of crop production to decline by 11 per cent.

Barnaby’s ode to agriculture then somehow morphs into support for Peter Dutton’s shout out to persecuted white South African farmers.

I am sure there are problems in South Africa.  It was kind of inevitable when 95% of the country’s wealth is held by 10% of the population, when 73% of farmland is owned by white people even though less than 9% of the population is white, when the wage for a farm worker is less than $15 for a 9 hour day.

But the point is, they didn’t ask for our help, they don’t want to abandon their farms and, far more importantly, there are genuine refugees who desperately need help.  What happened to the concern for the people who have been languishing in camps for years?  Do two farm murders a week outweigh the deaths in Myanmar, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan?  Do they outweigh the millions facing famine?

There is something odd about this sudden, and unwanted, focus on white South African farmers.  It seems to have been a clarion call for the far right.  A predictable lineup of suspects have been quick to express their support for Peter Dutton – Steve Ciobo, Barnaby Joyce, Andrew Hastie, Ian Goodenough, Andrew Laming, George Christensen, with David Leyonhjelm joining in as well.

Is the band considering a new line up?  Is that Peter humming in the wings?  Is anyone game to tell him that he’s tone deaf?

As Arte Johnson on Laugh In would say … very interesting.

A big day for a little man

It was a big day yesterday for our newly minted Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton.

Firstly, Dutton’s hand-picked choice to head his paramilitary Border Force, a colleague from his days as a Queensland copper, was finally sacked for using his position to get his girlfriend a job and for not disclosing the relationship.  Roman Quaedvlieg is obviously held to a higher standard than Barnaby Joyce who just took a self-imposed temporary demotion for the same thing.

Then we hear that, after meeting with Bob Katter’s son-in-law, who happens to be one of the largest gun importers in the country, Dutton is considering forming an advisory board where the gun lobbyists decide on the suitability of legislation.

That’s like letting the aluminium smelters advise us on emissions reduction or the cotton farmers advise us on water management.  Or letting the mining companies devise a mining tax that costs them nothing.

But this is about more guns in our society – a move that could change Australia forever because once the dam is broken, there is no going back.

And then to round off a big day for a little man, we witnessed the ridiculous farce of the Minister, purely on the basis of a television show he watched, offering to rescue “white” South African farmers from the “horrific circumstances” and “persecution” they are facing in their country.

“I do think, on the information that I’ve seen, people do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours,” Mr Dutton said.

Except no-one asked for his help.  The farmers responded by saying that, surprisingly, they don’t want to walk away from their homes and livelihoods.

The South African government were furious.  Who are you calling uncivilised?

They hauled in Canberra’s High Commissioner for a diplomatic ticking off, demanding that Dutton retract his comments.

And that doesn’t even address the blatant racism in Dutton’s stupid comments.

Dutton was voted worst health minister ever by people in the industry.  As Immigration Minister, he has been singularly unable to find a solution for the resettlement of refugees trapped on Manus and Nauru.  The deal with the US was negotiated by Turnbull, not Dutton.

He is a proven liar, telling us that a disturbance on Manus Island was caused by locals reacting to asylum seekers luring their children away for evil purposes, when, in fact, the asylum seekers gave the child some fruit and it was drunken military arguing over a football pitch who started shooting at the refugees.

There have been countless scathing reports and reviews on the dysfunction in the DIBP detailing the lack of management and due process.

Dutton walked out on Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation.  He has made innumerable gaffes – joking about islands in the Pacific being inundated, calling a journalist a mad fucking witch in a text in support of a sexual harasser, which he then sent to the journalist by mistake.

The list of ineptitude is long.  In fact, I cannot think of one achievement, one positive contribution, that Dutton has made in over 16 years suckling on the public teat, other than expanding his property portfolio.

So why has this inadequate politician been made the most powerful man in the country?  Why is he touted as a future leader for the Liberal Party?

It’s got me beat.

The profound nastiness of the Turnbull government

It was inevitable that any opposition by the ALP or Greens to Abbott’s reeking legacy, the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality, would provide the Turnbull government with the ammunition to claim (with confected indignation) that both parties are creating an obstacle that thwarts an opportunity for same-sex marriage.

There are bound to be those who accept this warped inversion, however they are likely to be the same groups and individuals that reject marriage equality anyway.

What this situation reveals yet again is the profound nastiness of the LNP. This nastiness (there really isn’t a better word for it, their attitude towards their fellow humans is as base as that) has been evidenced in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s decision to deprive the unemployed and pensioners in order to fix his budget, and the vengeful exercise of raw power as illustrated by Peter Dutton’s ongoing implacability over asylum seekers and refugees. It’s reflected in the image that heads this post: even the dead are perceived as new sources of revenue for the LNP.

I don’t need to go on, the evidence of their nastiness is everywhere we look, and it multiplies as we sleep.

Nastiness is the Turnbull government’s default position. From the apparent banality of nastiness all manner of evils flourish, and if you ever doubted that it is being enacted daily, for you to witness, in our parliament.

Though the Northern Territory can’t be ever be taken as typical, the carnage wrought on the CLP this weekend gives me small hope. Citizens can become sickened by nastiness, and they can wreak havoc on the party of nasty when they’ve had enough.

There is not one rational reason to deny marriage equality. We are a secular state: religious arguments ought not to influence our decisions. The unholy alliance of religion and nastiness currently hold sway.

It’s my hope that the ALP hold out against a plebiscite. No Liberal MP has any obligation to honour a yes result. Those who touchingly believe a plebiscite = marriage equality need to disabuse themselves of that belief, because it does not. We could well go through the torturous process and still have necessary amendments to the Marriage Act blocked by MPs who are not bound to accept a ‘yes’ vote.

At the heart of the demand for a plebiscite is nastiness, and a poisonous hatred for anyone who doesn’t fit a narrow definition of ‘normal’. The influence of pure nastiness has been overlooked in our arguments yet it is a powerful driver of irrational behaviour and you’d have to go a long way to find behaviour more irrational than that of Turnbull’s government in just about any area you can name.

There are rumours again that Abbott is preparing himself to challenge Turnbull’s leadership. Not only are they nasty to citizens, they are exceptionally nasty to one another. I would take great pleasure in watching the LNP continue to cannibalise itself. I doubt it would affect our governance to any great degree: they aren’t doing much of that anyway.

It’s my hope that the fate of the NT CLP is the Turnbull government’s future. Barely enough seats left to form a party? I’d go for that.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

Dutton’s message: torture works

Yesterday I had a Twitter conversation about Kathryn Bigelow’s movie, Zero Dark Thirty, which was shown on SBS last night.

Many angry critics have described the film as CIA propaganda advocating torture, and accused Bigelow of making an immoral argument that torture works. That wasn’t my reading as I argue here.

This revisiting of the film and the arguments surrounding it made it obvious to me that the message “torture works” is precisely the message the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison before him, and several former Prime Ministers including Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have sent to the world since the indefinite detention, off-shore and previously in the hell holes of Woomera and Baxter, of waterborne asylum seekers began.

They are not even particularly subtle about conveying this message: forcing women, children and men to live in circumstances in which they are tortured will deter others from attempting to seek asylum in Australia. It’s that stark.

To dissuade attacks from rusted on ALP supporters: Paul Keating built Woomera. I went there. It was one of Dante’s circles of hell. So please don’t come at me with the usual defence of your political party’s position on asylum seekers. There’s a bee’s dick of difference between the major parties.

Every time politicians insist that bringing refugees from Manus and Nauru to Australia will “start the drownings at sea again”, he or she is arguing, to the world, that “torture works.”

Frank Brennan, John Menadue, Tim Costello and Robert Manne have here proposed a solution to the current ghastly impasse. Their proposal retains the turn-back policy:

We believe there is no reason why the Turnbull government cannot do now what the Howard government previously did – maintain close intelligence co-operation with Indonesian authorities, and maintain the turn-back policy, while emptying the offshore processing centres and restoring the chance of a future to those we sent to Nauru or Manus Island three years ago or more by settling them either in Australia or, if any are willing, in other developed countries. Like Howard, Turnbull could maintain the offshore processing centres in case of an emergency.

Boats are to be turned back to their point of departure, usually Indonesia or in the case of Sri Lankan refugees, southern India where they continue to live as stateless people with few, if any rights.

The proposition put by Brennan et al would at least thwart the message that torture works, to which our politicians seem alarmingly attached. It’s by no means an ideal solution, but it could be our next step in addressing a situation that in its current manifestation is hideously wrong in every possible way.

Critiquing their proposition is a post in itself, and I won’t do that here.

As I argue Bigelow’s film demonstrated, the proposition that torture works is in itself a terrifying premise for debate. Who are we, that we would engage in such a debate in the first place?

It isn’t about whether or not torture works. It’s about torture even being considered, and then implemented as an option. You might argue that no politician foresaw or planned the circumstances that have evolved on Manus and Nauru, and you’d likely be correct. So we have come to torture by accident, rather than by design. Having arrived at that point, even accidentally, we are culpable and every day we reinforce the message that torture works, we add to our burden of culpability. What was initially accidental, thoughtless, ignorant, uncaring, politically self-seeking becomes, in the maintaining of it, deliberate.

Which puts us in the company of the CIA and its propaganda, does it not? Not to mention Donald Trump.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

Why is the Australian Government so frightened of David Icke?

“Why is the Australian Government so frightened of David Icke?” asks Mandy Kane.

On Tuesday 15 December, UK based researcher David Icke posted a video to his YouTube channel relating to his Visa application for a 2016 Australian tour. He explained that despite being approved in both 2009 and 2011, his most recent application had been denied and that a significant amount of additional paperwork had been requested to delay the process.

After viewing Mr. Icke’s video, I started a petition on change.org requesting that Peter Dutton MP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection approve his Visa.
The petition can be viewed here.

The following day (16 December), I received a call from a reporter named Michael Safi, who writes for The Guardian. Following the conversation, he published this article which has since received over 700 shares and 600 comments.

On 19 December, Mr. Icke’s video was removed by YouTube, who cited a ‘copyright claim’. This was unusual, as Mr. Icke has hundreds of similar videos uploaded to his channel and this one appeared no different. As far as I am aware, no copyrighted content was included. Thankfully, another user uploaded a back up copy of the video to their account, so I was able to link this back in to the petition.

The petition has received more than 2,600 signatures to date, with many Australians and residents of other countries leaving comments to express their disapproval of what appears to be a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech and choice on behalf of the Australian Government. As far as I am aware, the Department has not responded to any enquiries as to the status of Mr. Icke’s Visa at this stage. The petition will be forwarded to Mr. Dutton once we are confident we have significant traction in support of Mr. Icke’s Visa approval.

I am informed that Mr. Icke’s Visa denial is among many high profile cases in the past year and until the Department can provide a reasonable explanation in this instance we are seeking to expose this trend before it becomes more prevalent.

Mandy Kane

 

The immigration ministers and the Grand Mufti. And torture.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, along with former Immigration Ministers Scott Morrison and Philip Ruddock, took to the media last week to voice their disapproval of comments made by Australia’s Grand Mufti, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, on the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

There’s little doubt that some of the Grand Mufti’s remarks appear to rationalise, even justify, the terrorist attacks, by pointing to increasing Islamophobia in the West, and its symptomatic widespread willingness to regard all Muslims as harbouring secret and not so secret desires to destroy ‘western values.”

Dutton et al demand from the Mufti not rationalisation, but an unconditional condemnation of terrorist attacks, which is not an unreasonable demand. There’s a fine moral and intellectual line: while it’s important to grasp context, that’s an entirely different matter from using that context as justification for acts of terror.

That the west has been the cause of untold death and destruction in its violent pursuit of its own interests in the Middle East is also suggested by the Grand Mufti as background to current terrorism, a narrative I find difficult to disagree with, while simultaneously refusing it as justification for terrorist attacks.

Such is the state of things at the moment, it’s almost impossible to discuss context and history without being accused of being a sympathiser of whichever faction carries the role of baddie, and that applies to just about every situation, not only terrorism. Nuance is not currently our friend. Hardly anybody has time for it and social media is generally not its advocate.

State-sanctioned terrorist attacks perpetrated by the west are named more acceptably as “just war,” a term bandied about at the time of the Blair, Bush and Howard invasion of Iraq, that act of Christian crusading terrorism (the axis of evil, you’re with us or against us)  that left the country in ruins and some 700,000 of its citizens dead. John Pilger traces western state-sanctioned terrorism from the time of Pol Pot to ISIS, and it reveals us for the blood-drenched, murderous lot we are, despite the treasured “western values” used to justify so much of the horror we inflict on those who are not us.

The three immigration ministers who’ve complained about the Grand Mufti, Ruddock, Morrison and Dutton, are responsible for the horrific indefinite incarceration of waterborne asylum seekers, even tiny young ones, in hellish conditions in off-shore camps on Manus Island and Nauru. These incarcerated beings committed no crime. It makes little difference, especially for women, that the Nauru detainees are now permitted to roam that island: they are likely safer in detention.

Conditions in off-shore concentration camps have been  described by the UN as violating the convention against torture. Think about that. Torture. We are torturing people. Yes. Us.

To which then PM Tony Abbott responded that Australians are sick of being lectured to by the UN. Well, what torturer ever liked having their crime named?

It is, to my mind, an act of terrorism to indefinitely imprison in vile conditions and without hope, a group of people who have committed no crime and with whom we are not at war. It is an act of terror to imprison and torture those who you know are innocent. These prisoners are subjected to torture in order to deter others from legitimately arriving in this country by boat, and requesting asylum. This is terrorism.

Their imprisonment is an act of violence. It is intended to intimidate a society of people who are unable to remain in their homeland for fear of persecution or death. Its goal is to achieve political, ideological and religious objectives. This is terrorism.

As I write this, there are reports that another boat has arrived near Christmas Island, and is apparently being towed out to sea again by our navy. To what destination? To what fate? Are there children on board? Pregnant women?

So it is with the barking laughter of contemptuous disbelief that I watch these three men take the high moral ground with the Grand Mufti.

It is not ISIS terrorists who will destroy our “western values.” We’re doing that all by ourselves. Yes, I would like to hear the Grand Mufti unconditionally condemn the Paris attacks. And yes, I would like to hear Ruddock, Morrison and Dutton admit to the torture they continue to support and perpetrate, terrorism that is inextricably linked to attacks such as those in Paris.

The three immigration ministers are as fond as is the Grand Mufti of citing justifications for their vile actions. Regrettably, I think we are far more likely to hear unconditional condemnation of terror from the Grand Mufti than we ever will from Ruddock, Morrison and Dutton, those valiant upholders of western values,  and steadfast protectors of the western purity of our borders.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

Dutton has lost control.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has well and truly lost control of his portfolio. The past year alone provides a rich field of examples of Dutton’s incompetency. There are many instances which highlight the absurdity of his excuses, claims and justifications for the Coalition’s appalling policies. Yet despite a growing list of clear failures, there is a noticeable absence of demands for accountability. Dutton continues his awful attempts to defend the indefensible and the general public laps it up, convinced by the Government’s lies that it is all for the greater good.

Dutton has demonstrated many failures. A man with his level of ineptitude and incompetency in the private sector would have been fired a long time ago. A man in his position in any other institution, would be loudly condemned, and subject to a fiercely independent investigation at a minimum.

The latest in the string of absurdities must be Dutton’s reaction over the recent death of a person under his care and the following riot on Christmas Island. Dutton brushed off the seventh known death of an asylum seeker since early 2014, with little more than a ‘meh’, followed by loud accusations of violent, hardened criminals causing trouble for no reason at all in the remote prison. Not only does Dutton fail to recognise or even faintly appreciate the duty of care he owes to asylum seekers detained under this watch, but he loudly refutes the provable fact that violent criminals, minor offenders and asylum seekers have all been mixed together and none would be there at all if it wasn’t for him and his party’s policies.

The totally preventable death of Fazel Chegeni is the doing of Dutton. The riot, which looks to cost the Australian taxpayer $10 million dollars, on top of the $100 million dollar blowout in the billion dollar cost of offshore detention, is the doing of Dutton.

Dutton is responsible, and in being responsible, must be the most incompetent Immigration Minister since the equally appalling performance of former Minister Scott Morrison.

If Dutton was an employee in any private organisation, he would have been sacked long ago for gross incompetence. If any individual person was paying Dutton’s remuneration, he would have been sacked long ago. Yet the Australian public, every individual tax payer is paying for Dutton, and yet he continues, unchecked, with calculated, deliberate lies to try and cover up his incompetency. And Australia does not hold him to account.

The mysterious death of Fazel Chegeni, a refugee whose body was found after being chased through the Christmas Island jungle by guards, follows other preventable and inexcusable deaths. In October, out of fear of being returned to detention and dying a slow death at Dutton’s hands, Khodayar Amini doused himself in petrol and self-immolated. Leo Seemanpillai did the same last year. Asylum seeker ‘Reza’, fearing deportation on Dutton’s orders, was found dead at Brisbane airport. Earlier, Nasim Najafi was attacked while under Dutton’s care, placed in solitary confinement, and committed suicide.

Dutton is responsible for these deaths. Just like former Minister Scott Morrison was responsible for Reza Barati’s murder on Manus Island, and for Hamid Kehazaei who died from a septicaemia after a treatable infection on his cut foot was ignored.

Dutton holds the power to giving these people hope, freedom and a chance of a life. Dutton refuses.

Dutton, whose actions are slowly killing the people under his care, is doing his best to convince asylum seekers that it is better to return to their own countries and risk death in a warzone, than die a slow and lingering death under his watch. ‘Khaled’, who saw his own father murdered after they both worked as military interpreters for the US, was coerced into returning to the very city he fled from in Iraq. Officials from Dutton’s Department coerced another man, Eyad, to return to Syria, where he was tortured for twenty days by government officers, before finally making it to his home. A short time later he was injured in a shell attack, which killed his father on the spot. Dutton is responsible for this.

If any other person was responsible for so many deaths, so many atrocities, so much harm, they’d be imprisoned themselves. Not Dutton. No, he is being paid by the Australian tax payer to continue his torturous regime.

Who can forget the boatloads of Tamil asylum seekers Dutton returned to Sri Lanka, despite being subject to persecution? And his refusal to help rescue Rohingya refugees stranded at sea? Or the Vietnamese asylum seekers who were returned by Dutton, some of which were arrested and detained immediately on their return to Vietnam?

And of course there is Dutton’s implied admission that his Department paid people smugglers, in a clear breach of international law, backed up by an Amnesty International report finding enough evidence that it happened.

Dutton is determined to continue to expose children to sexual abuse, assault and torture. The Government-commissioned Moss Report, the Forgotten Children Report from the Australian Human Rights Commission, and a Senate Committee Inquiry found that offshore detention is not safe for families and children. Earlier this year Dutton ordered the transfer of a five month old baby, Asha, to Nauru, where her desperate mother is still gravely concerned for her health. Fully qualified, professional Australian doctors have labelled the Government’s treatment of asylum seeker children as torture. Dutton is unrepentant. Instead of addressing the shocking claims, he made it illegal for ‘entrusted people’ to report the abuse, threatening doctors, nurses, councillors and teachers with two years jail.

The Australian tax payer is financing this abhorrent situation. Every Australian is paying for Dutton to put in place laws to incarcerate anyone who tries to hold Dutton to account.

Dutton refused for months to help a woman who had been brutally raped while under his care. Abyan, another refugee who fell pregnant after being raped, was also denied treatment in Australia until a mass public outcry. Dutton, insistently lying to the Australian public and the world about the poor woman’s situation, despite even the Coalition’s biggest supporter, Chris Kenny, backing up her advocates, has not been held to account for his lies. Dutton only acted after a scathing press statement from the United Nations, yet he still insists that denying a traumatised woman access to a counsellor and expert medical care is appropriate treatment.

Dutton deliberately seeks to expose vulnerable men, women and children to further harm.

According to Dutton, pregnant women under his care who request to give birth in Australia are trying to blackmail him, are taking him for a ‘mug’, and are partaking in a racket to get to Australia. According to Dutton, it is acceptable to force women under his care to give birth in a third world hospital on Nauru, where a newborn baby is seven times more likely to die at birth, and the mother is fifty times more likely to die during childbirth. Dutton has ignored medical professionals and the Australian Medical Association who insist Golestan, a diabetic woman, must be immediately flown to Australia to give birth. Golestan is suffering a complex pregnancy, and despite medical staff expecting her baby will require specialist care, Dutton insists on risking the baby’s life. Will Dutton sacrifice the life of an innocent baby in his race to provide crueler conditions than those which the asylum seekers have fled from?

It is not just asylum seekers Dutton treats with loathing and contempt. A freedom of information request by Fairfax media revealed that Dutton deliberately misled the public when he said there was no way his Border Force agents would be doing random spot checks on unsuspecting and law-abiding Melburnians in August this year.

Spooked by a backlash to the press release that Government agents would stop and speak with anyone they came across during Operation Fortitude in Melbourne’s CBD, Dutton’s kneejerk response at the time was to deny all knowledge of such a planned venture.

What kind of Minister thinks it’s acceptable and lawful to expect people to carry, and produce on demand, their ‘papers’ while out shopping on a weekend? What kind of Minister then lies to say it was never planned? Obviously one who mistakenly thought Australia was a police state, or one who is grossly incompetent. Dutton forgets he is an elected representative paid for by the Australian taxpayer to represent the Australian people, not treat the very people who elected him as criminals.

Speaking of taxpayers, voters, and Christmas Island, Dutton demonstrates yet again his inability to tell the truth. Despite deliberately, unrepentantly and viciously detaining and deporting any non-citizens who have suddenly become socially undesirable, no matter how minor their wrong-doing, or the absence of any actual offence at all, Dutton is adamant only the most violent and hardened criminals are subject to section 501 of the Migration Act. Many of these people have lived in Australia for their entire lives. They have voted in elections. Many have paid their taxes and contributed positively to the community for decades. They have families, wives, husbands, partners, siblings, parents and children in Australia.

According to Dutton, a decorated New Zealand soldier, Ngati Kanohi Haapu, known as Ko, must be banished forever, despite having no criminal convictions whatsoever. Ko’s ‘character issue’ is that he is allegedly a member of a one percent motorcycle club. Despite no motorcycle club being proven to be a criminal organisation, and police and law enforcement agencies being unable to produce sufficient evidence of such, Ko has been detained and set for deportation.

Ko has committed no crime. Not like Dutton, who has paid people smugglers, enabled and condoned child abuse, rape, and torture, and is responsible for at least five of the seven known deaths of asylum seekers.

According to Dutton, a New Zealand born mother of six, who has served her time for minor drug offences is a violent, hardened criminal. If this woman had been born in Australia she would serve her time and move on with her life. But no, according to Dutton, she must be banished from Australia, despite serving her sentence, because a faceless bureaucrat has applied a mandatory provision enacted on Dutton’s command, that she be deported.

According to Dutton, a single mother of two, charged with shoplifting is such a threat to the Australian public, she should be incarcerated, away from her young child and teen daughter – banished forever from Australia, because of Dutton. There is no such thing as rehabilitation or having ‘done one’s time’ under Dutton’s watch.

According to Dutton, a quadriplegic man, who served time for self-medicating with painkillers, is such a threat to the Australian public, he must be deported, never to return to the land he called home.

According to Dutton, a British man, who has lived in Australia for fifty of his fifty-one years, who in a moment of stupidity lit a scrub fire in which no people or property were harmed, is a violent and hardened criminal. Because according to Dutton, only violent and hardened criminals are being held on Christmas Island.

Where are the cries for Dutton’s resignation? Why is the Opposition silent? Why is Bill Shorten not calling for Dutton to stand down or be sacked? Why is the mainstream media not demanding more answers?

No person in anything other than a criminal organisation, a fascist, police state or dictatorship would get away with such criminal behaviour, and wilful and deliberate lies to the domestic and international community.

How many more families will be ripped apart by Dutton’s arbitrarily applied laws? How many more people must die a violent, painful and preventable death under Dutton’s watch? How many innocent children will lose their parents, and how many parents will lose their children at Dutton’s hands? The Government and the weak opposition, the detention centre contractors, and all the faceless bureaucrats, are complicit in the deaths, torture, and inhumane treatment of people under Australia’s care. Every Australian who does not make a stand against the cruel regime, is complicit.

Enough is enough. Rape, murder, suicide, torture, child abuse, violent assaults, death from medical neglect, and wilful destruction of families is all in a day’s work with Dutton in charge. And every Australian is paying for it.

 

The top 5 signs that your country’s Refugee Policy is a disaster

Australia’s Minister for Saying-We’ve-Stopped-the-Boats – one Mr Peter ‘PDuddy’ Dutton – was out and about this morning defending what he and his government believe is the best and most successful immigration policy EVER.

I decided to check out PDuddy’s claim against the following officialesque list …

The Top 5 signs your Refugee Policy is a disaster

Number Five: Refugees would rather return to possible death in a war-zone

than stay in the Refugee Centres your country provides

The Australian government has worked hard to convince as many refugees as it can to return to their home countries, despite the considerable potential risk to those refugees that doing so entails.

One Syrian refugee – Eyad – elected to return to probable death in Syria a few months ago, saying he would prefer to die with his family in Syria rather than stay on Manus island. On arriving in Syria he was arrested and tortured for 20 days. Following his release, he was allowed to return to his former home village where he was subsequently hit by shrapnel and saw his father die before him.

Number Four: You put refugees in the care of a government that has made

money from selling passports to terrorists & money-laundering

The way that Peter Dutton pontificates about ‘smashing’ the business of people-smugglers, you’d think he’d donned a cape and mask and turned into a one-man regional crime-fighting machine.

What PDuddy conveniently forgets to mention, when boasting of his crime-fighting achievements, is that the Australian government is propping up the Nauru government with our Refugee policy – and that the Nauru government is so beleaguered by corruption claims that the New Zealand government recently cut off aid to them.  PDuddy also leaves out the fact that this same government was previously heavily sanctioned by the international community for selling Nauruan passports to terrorists and laundering money for the Russian Mafia.

Number Three: Your Refugee Centres make it onto the UNHRC’s torture list

In March this year, the UN Human Rights Commission released its report on torture, naming Australia as a country who had breached the UN Convention against Torture in our Refugee camps.

Of course our government raced to immediately set up a Royal Commission to investigate the issues raised by the UN. Oh wait – no,  that was a Royal Commission into the unions. What our government actually did in response to the UN report was to say that it was sick of being lectured.

Number Two: You are spending more on your Refugee Policy than the

combined GDP of 9 small countries

In 2015, the Australian government spent at least 4 billion on its Refugee Policy – of which 3 billion was to look after offshore refugees (including just under 1600 refugees on Nauru and Manus Island).

This is the equivalent of the combined GDP in 2014 for Tonga, Micronesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Sao Tome and Principe, Dominica and Comoros.

By way of contrast, the UN has a budget of $157 million USD for 2015 to look after over 200,000 refugees in South-East Asia.

Number One: A country in the Axis-of-Evil thinks you’ve gone too far

Over 110 countries lined up at the UN this week to comment on Australia’s refugee policies. In fact, so many countries wanted to raise issues at the periodic UN review, that each was given a time limit of just over a minute to speak. Between them they still managed to raise over 300 concerns in just that space of time.

Among their number was long-term member of Bush’s ‘Axis-of-evil’ – North Korea – who said that they:

have serious concerns at the continued reports of … violence against refugees and asylum seekers“.

It’s official – Australia’s refugee policy is a disaster …

In all seriousness – our refugee policy really IS a disaster. It is pure propaganda  – truthiness at its finest – to suggest otherwise.

And still Peter Dutton keeps a straight face while he claims that Australia’s Refugee policy:

  • has saved lives – this is doubtful at best;
  • has stopped people smugglers – if this were true, who exactly are they paying to turn around?
  • to be the most generous in the world – this is actually an insult to countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan who lay true claim to this title. We are literally nowhere near.
  • to have protected our borders – from who exactly? From victims of war, terrorism, torture and persecution, who, if they had the funds to arrive here by plane would be allowed to stay? When did we start needing protection from victims? The reality is that these are the world’s most vulnerable people being used as political pawns. They aren’t terrorists. Or economic migrants. They are people with no safe place to call home.

It doesn’t matter what measure you pick …

  • financial
  • humanitarian
  • doing our bit globally
  • stopping crime in the region
  • making our country more secure, or
  • just plain common decency.

… there is not a single measure that doesn’t point at our government’s Refugee Policy as being at best an abject failure, and at worst a complete disaster that will haunt us in years to come.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

 

The Strange Case Of The Liberal Party!

Perhaps my brain is wired differently, but I tend to notice contradictions in things.

Of course it’s pretty easy to notice the contradiction in Peter Dutton’s compassion for those living in refugee camps while he has absolutely no sympathy for those we’re holding in detention for offshore processing.

However, my brain doesn’t stop with that simple contradiction. It goes on and wants to know why when the Liberals are so bullish on people “showing initiative” and “having a go” and “doing something to help themselves” that the very refugees who’ve done that are the ones that we’re meant to despise because they paid people smugglers to bring them here. And paying people smugglers is absolutely immoral … Unless you’re paying them to tow people back.

As for the offshore processing, well, it’s hardly the sort of efficiency that the Liberals profess to love so much. I mean, if the public service took this long to process anything, it’d be privatised in a flash.

But then I also see strange inconsistencies in so many of the Liberal Party’s positions:

If “high” rates of income tax are a disincentive to people working, won’t reducing penalty rates also have the same effect?

Why did Joe Hockey think it was outrageous that someone as well off as he is only have to pay $38 for his son’s medical bills, but be similarly outraged that he was entitled to claim an allowance for renting his wife’s place while staying in Canberra?

Why do they seem to think that unions taking money for ensuring that projects are completed on time shows how dodgy and corrupt the unions are, but the employers paying the money have no case to answer?

Why do they complain about 18C and how it hampers free speech, but turn around run an ad campaign that accuses the CFMEU of being racist? Or why does George Brandis, after telling us of our right to be a bigot, complain that people showed an incredible amount of “bigotry” when talking about Abbott’s religious views. (Which given Abbott’s recent speech, one could argue are another great example of inconsistency!)

Why do they believe that Labor taking money from unions makes them beholden to the union movement when in government, but the money the Liberals receive from various groups has absolutely no effect on their decision-making?

Why do they always argue Labor members accused of something dodgy should stand down and leave Parliament, but any Liberal member should be subject to procedural fairness?

Why, when Labor gives out funds without any obvious process is it “pork-barrelling” or “rewarding their mates”, was it ok for the Arts Minister to have a special fund to reward “excellence”?

Why was the removal of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister an outrageous betrayal of democracy, but the removal of Tony Abbott just something that needed to be done?

And, finally, why, when they’re such supporters of small government and so positive about the private sector, are any of them in Parliament on the public payroll and not out helping to build the economy?

 

Reward for achievement?

When Peter Dutton, at age 30, was elected to Federal Parliament in 2001, he said “it brought to a climax a lifetime of hard work and a focus on achieving the goal of standing proudly in this place today.”

This “lifetime of hard work” included starting work in the family business when he started high school, joining the Young Liberals at age 18, which was when he bought his first property, working for 9 years in the police force while also being listed, from age 23, as a company director for his father’s business, then quitting the police in 1999 to ‘work fulltime’ with his father for a year or so while he campaigned to enter politics.

Dutton said that the Liberal Party was “a party of natural choice” for him because it was a party founded on “the principles of individualism and reward for achievement.”

Which begs the question of why, after being voted the worst Health Minister in 35 years, Dutton retains his position in Cabinet.  One letter published in the Australian Doctor said “Dutton will be remembered as the dullest, least innovative and most gullible.”

Recently, George Brandis launched Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations human rights council (UNHRC), stating that “Across the entire panoply of human rights Australia has not only been an activist, but those rights are integral to what we Australians regard as our sense of nationhood”.  He further maintained that we pursue a “vigorous, ambitious human rights agenda”, domestically and internationally and that he had “enlarged the scope” of the Australian Human Rights Commission “to be a trustee of all human rights, including importantly, but not exclusively, the right to freedom from discrimination”.

While George is pushing his incredible view from a parallel universe, Peter Dutton is busy denying any human rights abuses in our offshore detention centres and making sure there is no oversight.

He has rejected an Amnesty International investigation of boat turnbacks as an “ideological attack” saying “the government is not going to be bullied into changing our position.”

Dutton refuses to deny that we illegally paid people smugglers, just as he refuses to deny his department were instrumental in gaining a visa for ‘journalist’ (I use the term loosely) Chris Kenny to visit Nauru while refusing to allow head of the AHRC Gillian Triggs access, or to guarantee not to prosecute anyone who spoke to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants who subsequently cancelled his visit.

When Ms Triggs asked “have we thought about what the consequences are of pushing people back to our neighbour Indonesia?  Is it any wonder that Indonesia will not engage with us on other issues that we care about, like the death penalty?”, Dutton slammed her saying “For her to be out there making these unfounded comments is a complete disgrace.”

“It’s an international embarrassment and it’s an embarrassment for all Australians that we would have someone in a public office making comments like this that are completely unfounded,” he said.

This from the man who joked publicly about “Cape York time” and Pacific Islands being inundated.  This from the man who called Sarah Hansen-Young an attention-seeking embarrassment for thinking she was spied on while on Nauru – which was of course true.  This from the man who was the only Liberal frontbencher to boycott the Apology to the Stolen Generation.

If you need any further evidence of the government’s determination to control information about its immigration detention program, aid agencies including Save the Children and the Australian Red Cross were asked to offer “performance security” bonds – in one case, of $2 million – during negotiations over contracts relating to work caring for asylum seekers and refugees.  The non-profit organisations were also being asked to agree to clauses that would prevent them speaking to the media without government approval.

Save the Children refused, seeing it as an attempt to gag advocacy, and subsequently lost its contracts to Transfield Services and Connect Settlement Services. When they finish today, there will no longer be an agency whose mission is to uphold the rights of children on Nauru – nor will there be a human rights organisation advocating for asylum seekers and refugees

Dutton was also responsible for the shameful treatment of pregnant asylum seeker Abyan.

The following excerpt from his maiden speech shows what Dutton really thinks about human rights, advocacy, and the legal system.

“I have seen the sickening behaviour displayed by people who, frankly, barely justify their existence in our sometimes overtolerant society.

The fight for a better place in which to live is today made even more difficult for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the boisterous minority and the politically correct seem to have a disproportionate say in public debate today. The silent majority, the forgotten people—or the aspirational voters of our generation, as some like to term them—are fed up with bodies like the Civil Liberties Council and the Refugee Action Collective, and certainly the dictatorship of the trade union movement. Australians are fed up with the Civil Liberties Council— otherwise known as the criminal lawyers media operative—who appear obsessed with the rights of criminals yet do not utter a word of understanding or compassion for the victims of crime. Their motives are questionable and their hypocrisy breathtaking.

The mood of the silent majority is fast rising to one of anger, because at present there is a basic right that is being impinged upon. It is incumbent upon us to represent the views of the majority and not to be held captive by groups who grab headlines in tabloids on the basis of anything but substance. As leaders and representatives of this country, we must facilitate and inform debate, and not be deterred by those who would seek to drive their own hidden agendas.

At this point in time it is stating the obvious that in my opinion the courts are not representing the views in the large of the broader community. Time after time we see grossly inadequate sentences being delivered to criminals whose civil rights have far exceeded those of the victim and others in our society. This imbalance must be addressed, and for the sake of living standards and reasonable expectations for all Australians must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Enter Border Force and a Minister with unilateral decision making power to bypass the judicial system.

Dutton is a hard line conservative who previously held leadership aspirations (truly!).  He had run-ins with both Turnbull and Bishop when Malcom was leader the first time.

Apparently it was Scott Morrison who convinced Malcolm Turnbull to keep Peter Dutton in the Ministry. If nothing else, this, to me, confirms that Morrison wants the top job and is rallying his right wing foot soldiers for when his time comes because you sure wouldn’t be keeping Dutton on his performance.

 

Bodies that matter. Bodies that don’t.

Image from noplaceforsheep.comIt’s profoundly concerning that Abyan, the Somali refugee currently living on Nauru and victim of a rape that left her pregnant, was forbidden to see her lawyer and denied adequate counselling for her trauma and her plight.

But now we hear that Rupert Murdoch’s minion Chris Kenny of The Australian was not only the first journalist in eighteen months to be granted a visa to enter Nauru in the last few days, he was also escorted by local police to Abyan’s accommodation, where he confronted her about her situation.

Human Rights Commissioner Professor Gillian Triggs has been denied a visa to visit Nauru, so Kenny is indeed privileged.

Kenny’s first account of his interview with Abyan, which you can access by clicking the link on Kenny’s tweet in The Guardian report above, seems to contradict Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s claims that Abyan refused an abortion and was therefore returned to the island, and instead substantiates her own claims that she did not refuse an abortion, she asked for some time, and appropriate help. Neither the time nor the appropriate help was forthcoming, and she was deported after being refused contact with her lawyer.

The likelihood of us ever knowing the truth of the situation is slim, however, no matter how you look at it, Abyan has been treated in a most despicable manner by both governments, and their agents.

Dutton has belatedly diarised appointments allegedly made for Abyan, with and without interpreters. However, there is no way at all of verifying Dutton’s claims that these appointments were in fact made, and that Abyan was offered the medical attention he claims.

I have no idea why Abyan was then subjected to further traumatisation by having to endure Chris Kenny’s pursuit of her after she was returned to Nauru.  But everywhere I look in this situation I see an extremely vulnerable young woman, stripped of all power and agency, subjected to the interrogation and control of powerful men intent on furthering their own interests. The demonstration of male power & dominance over women that the Abyan story illustrates makes my blood run cold.

In his latest report from Nauru, Kenny stresses that Abyan has not reported her rape to the Nauruan police. The implication is clear: if she didn’t report it, perhaps it didn’t happen.

There are a staggering number of sexual assaults in this developed country that go unreported. The majority of rapes that are reported don’t make it into court. Reporting sexual assault to police is a harrowing experience, even when the police concerned are highly trained and care about you, and share your language group. I had a sexual assault counsellor with me when I did it a few months ago, as well as evidence, and a great deal of loving support. With all that, it was an horrific experience from which I still haven’t recovered. Reporting sexual assault if you are a young, pregnant Somali refugee woman condemned to life on Nauru for the indefinite future, must be an almost impossibly daunting prospect.

And then there is Abyan’s history, including rape and genital mutilation in her home country.

And let’s not forget that Dutton only agreed to offer Abyan an abortion in the first place because public agitation forced him to.

There is a recent pattern of unrelenting traumatisation of Abyan by men who have descended on her, for one reason or another, like vultures on a wounded animal. Most of them are white and middle class. Their actions are validated by an entirely brutal government policy that condemned Abyan to Nauru in the first place, a policy initiated by Julia Gillard and Nicolo Roxon. I wonder what these two women now think of where their policy has led us, or if they consider it at all.

An aside: a link to an interview with Nancy Fraser, Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the New School on why the “leaning in” brand of feminism actually means leaning on other women. Quote:

For me, feminism is not simply a matter of getting a smattering of individual women into positions of power and privilege within existing social hierarchies. It is rather about overcoming those hierarchies.

Yes. Indeed.

In an uneasy corollary with Abyan’s situation Nauru is a subordinate state (read feminised) dominated by and dependent on Australia. Australia sends women and children it does not want to Nauru, where they are raped and abused. Australia, however, claims this is none of our business as Nauru is a sovereign state and we cannot intervene in its legal system, or what passes for a legal system in that lawless nation.

White, privileged, and apparently having suffered nothing more traumatic than being the butt (sorry) of a Chaser’s joke concerning sex with a dog, Chris Kenny feels he is entitled to pursue and interrogate the traumatised Somali refugee because, well, he is white, male, privileged, and works for Rupert Murdoch. He has no expertise in the matter of trauma and sexual trauma. If he had the slightest idea, and any compassion, he would not have subjected Abyan to his inquiries, and he certainly wouldn’t have arrived at her home with a police escort.

The bodies that matter are firstly, white. Then they are male. Then they are the bodies of women of calibre. They are bodies that belong to our tribe. I think, almost every day, what would the man who sexually assaulted me do if his daughter had been treated as he treated me? He observed more than once that I was “not of his tribe,” a comment I found ridiculous at the time, but with hindsight I see that his perception of me as other allowed him to behave towards me as if I was less vulnerable, less hurtable than women who were “of his tribe.”

Multiply this a million times when the victim is a Somali refugee abandoned by Australia to fend for herself in Nauru, and it isn’t hard to understand why there were difficulties reporting the rape.

The headline “Rape Refugee” says it all. Written on the body. Written on the body that does not matter, by the body that does.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

Turnbull’s actions should carry a trigger warning for all women who have survived sexual violence

At a time when we are struggling in this country with the death of two women every week from male-perpetrated domestic violence, and the physical, emotional and psychological injury of thousands more women. At a time when we are struggling with the lifelong scarring of children who witness this violence.

At a time when we are struggling in this country with the sexual abuse of children by men who have authority over them, both historical and current, children whose lives are ruined by predatory males in positions of power.

At a time in this country when we are only beginning to truthfully acknowledge the criminal damage done to women and children by men who abuse and torture and murder us.

At this time, our new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his robotic axeman Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (who used to work as a copper investigating sex crimes, yes, think about that) choose as their scapegoat and human sacrifice to the racist subhumans who comprise the demographic that keeps them in power, a raped and pregnant Somali refugee.

There will hardly be a woman amongst us today who has survived sexual assault, domestic violence, and childhood sexual abuse whose trauma will not be triggered by the treatment of Abyan by Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton.

We will flashback to the times when we cried out into a vast silence for someone to help us, and for most of us, nobody listened.

We will flashback to the terror, the helplessness, the powerless we experienced when a man more powerful than us exercised his privilege and presumed entitlement over our bodies, minds and spirits.

We will remember our impotence. The sense that nothing about ourselves belongs to us, but has been colonised by a male invader because he can, because he wants to and because he has no appreciation of or care for our humanity.

In their treatment of Abyan, Turnbull and Dutton have triggered the memories and the rage of thousands upon thousands of Australian women who have historical and current experiences of the brutality, contempt and sense of entitlement perpetrating men both feel and act out in their violence towards us.

Turnbull and Dutton have given their tacit support to sexual assault and violence against women by their actions in this matter. They may believe they are acting only against one Somali refugee. But they aren’t. They are acting against every woman who has suffered and survived, and they are acting against every woman and girl who can imagine what it is to be violated by a man, and is yet to be so violated.

When they sacrificed Abyan on the altar of their political ambition, they sacrificed all of us.

Oh, brave new world, that has such vile men in it.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

Turnbull and Dutton wage war on women

When Tony Abbott was Prime Minister it was difficult to imagine myself feeling more contempt and loathing for any politician than the contempt and loathing I felt towards him.

The emotions one experiences for public figures are paradoxical: they can be fiercely visceral and at the same time entirely abstract, as the relationship is not a personal one and the individual is unknown, except superficially. Nonetheless, they can keep you awake at night if the anger provoked is strong enough.

Tonight my contempt and loathing meter has exploded with the news that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have conspired to secretly remove a raped and pregnant refugee, brought here just a few days ago for an abortion, back to the scene of her rape and the purview of her rapist, whose child she is now almost certainly doomed to carry to term.

The woman had, on the advice of psychologists and doctors conveyed to her through her lawyers as the government did not permit her to see either professional, requested counselling for both the sexual assault and the termination of the pregnancy it caused, before she underwent the procedure.

No counselling was permitted by the government. The date set for the procedure passed as she repeatedly begged for precursory assistance. The government then disingenuously decided she had refused the abortion, and whisked her back to Nauru on a chartered plane without allowing her lawyers to speak with her.

If you have been sexually assaulted, if your body has been, against your will, violated by another, it is going to be traumatic to undergo any subsequent procedure that involves the penetration of your body, even if it is with your permission. Only people of immense stupidity or immense, unspeakable cruelty could fail to appreciate this reality.

What Turnbull and Dutton have done is truly horrific. It ought to make every woman tremble in fear and rage. This is what powerful men can do and will do to women, in the pursuit of their own interests. This is how they still despise us, devalue us, abuse us and use us. This is a war on women, expressed today and in this manner against a Somali refugee, expressed tomorrow against whichever woman who in some way they fear presents a  threat to their hold on power.

I happened to be at Question Time yesterday when Turnbull gave a splendid performance of urbanity, sophistication, confidence, superiority, authority, intelligence and charm, self-deprecatingly admitting his financial privilege which he attributes to fate, and nurtures in the Caymans. Hockey and Abbott sat side by side on the back benches, grim as the two evil fairies at the christening. The contrast between Turnbull and Abbott could not have been greater.

And yet . . . Abbott was the iron fist in the iron glove. Turnbull is the iron fist in the velvet glove. Turnbull denigrates woman as much as does Abbott. He’s simply a lot more sophisticated in his ability to conceal the denigration. He’s simply a great deal better at paying lip service to women he believes will further his cause than Abbott ever was. Turnbull has as much of a double standard towards women as did his predecessor. There are still women of calibre, and then there’s the Somali refugee.

I can only hope the feminists in this country will stop fighting about who is allowed to call herself a feminist and who isn’t, and the eternally fraught questions of body hair and breast implants as symbols of hard-won choice, and instead turn their energies towards fighting Turnbull. With Abbott we at least knew where we stood. Turnbull will trash us with charm and blinding eloquence, and we won’t even notice until it’s too late.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

What is better than drowning, according to the Australian Government?

The Federal Government is determined to stick to its policy of torturing innocent people to deter criminals. Apparently the only way to take power away from people smugglers is to ensure that perfectly legal asylum seekers who previously made it safely to Australia by boat are treated in the most barbaric way possible. In some kind of twisted Coalition logic, it asserts by its actions that the most effective way to prevent people drowning at sea is to torture those that survive.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton appears to understand that actions are more important than words, as does former Immigration Minister and current Treasurer, Scott Morrison. Both have made it clear that it’s not acceptable to simply intercept boats making their way to Australia, remove asylum seekers and detain the people smugglers. No, the only way to save lives is to detain and subject every man, woman and child to the cruellest, most inhumane treatment possible. The Coalition has a strong message for asylum seekers, “Dare to flee war, persecution or genocide, and we will make your lives so rotten you’ll beg to return to where you came from.”

According to the Coalition, there is nothing worse than drowning at sea. According to the actions of Dutton, Morrison, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, arbitrary detention, torture, rape, sexual abuse, violent assaults, and denial of medical treatment are all better than drowning.

In some respects, they have a point. Death is final. It is the end. There is no return from death. Drowning really is a final outcome.

Torture, on the other hand, rape, sexual abuse, violent assaults, denial of medical treatment; none of these things results in immediate death. No, these things, continuously supported by the Australian Government by its lack of action, ensure that people stay alive; although not so much alive as a lingering, painful existence from which there is no escape. Asylum seekers who attempt to escape by ending their own lives, are subjected to more pain and torture.

It seems the Australian Government is determined to stop people drowning at all costs.

Based on the events of the past few years, the Government has demonstrated a number of things that it believes are better than drowning.

  1. Being bashed to death by security guards who are meant to protect you.
  2. Dying a slow, lingering death from septicaemia from an untreated foot infection.
  3. Housing a five month old baby in a stinking hot, rat-infested tent without access to appropriate formula, hygienic facilities to prepare food, and placing her mother in so much stress she can’t breastfeed properly.
  4. Being so suicidal you can’t be trusted to be left alone for five minutes with a lawyer or husband, but considered well enough to be flown to detention in Nauru.
  5. Depriving women of basic sanitary items and forcing them to ask male security guards for pads while blood clots run down their legs.
  6. Leaving a young child with a broken arm untreated for weeks.
  7. Being brutally raped as a 23 year old, and denied medical treatment for weeks, if not months, and forced to continue a pregnancy that is making you physically sick.
  8. Having medical treatment delayed after being brutally raped and attempting suicide.
  9. Young boys being attacked, beaten and robbed.
  10. The sexual abuse of children.
  11. Sending children who are suffering from serious mental health issues back to detention where they won’t have access to proper treatment and their condition will worsen.
  12. Waterboarding and being cable-tied to a bed and dropped from height.
  13. Dying after being denied medical treatment for two weeks.

Astoundingly, while on one hand declaring that the arbitrary and indefinite detention of asylum seekers is necessary to deter the people smugglers, and proudly boasting of its cruel policies, the Government’s main defence in a High Court challenge to offshore detention was that it has no control over the detention centres and besides, there is now no detention after the Nauruan Government coincidentally opened up the centre several days before the challenge was to be heard. This is not the first time the Government has changed the rules at the last minute to thwart any attempts to test the legality of the offshore detention policy and hold it accountable.

The Australian Government behaves as though what happens on Nauru is not Australia’s responsibility. It deliberately and publicly sends men, women and children, including tiny babies, into torturous conditions, yet steps back and says, “its not our problem.” It says the detention centre is not “controlled” by Australia.

The Government’s defence amounts to “it’s nothing to do with us”. At least in this respect the Government’s words and actions are consistent. It continues to fail to act on mounting evidence of appalling conditions for asylum seekers and refugees on the remote island prisons, despite Turnbull recently expressing “concern”, as though the barbaric treatment of innocent people is news to him.

The Government uses the harsh treatment of asylum seekers detained in a third world shithole to attempt to deter people lawfully seeking asylum. It actively sends people to Nauru and Manus Island, and uses tax payer money for the management of the facilities, visas, and the security of the detention centres, yet absolves itself of all responsibility.

The Forgotten Children Report from the Australian Human Rights Centre provides clear evidence of the abhorrent conditions of immigration detention.

The United Nations has found that Australia’s immigration policy and conditions in detention centres amounts to torture.

The Moss Report, commissioned by the Government itself, found that there is evidence of rapes, sexual assaults and drugs for sexual favours in the Australian run centre on Nauru.

A Senate Committee Inquiry found that the Nauru detention centre is not safe for children.

United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants cancelled a visit as the Government could not guarantee that people who spoke with him would not be prosecuted under the Border Force Act.

Despite ongoing criticism, the Government insists on promoting the same tired line that anything compassionate, humane and in line with the basic standards of human rights expected in a Western democracy will lead to more deaths in Australian waters.

It seems that it’s not the deaths the Government fears; it’s the method of death and the publicity surrounding it. Heart wrenching images of children washed up on beaches turns asylum seekers from illegal immigrants to be feared into humans who deserve care and help. Instead, the Government supports the slow, lingering, torturous death of innocent people in detention, which it does everything to hide, threatening two years jail for doctors, nurses, teachers and other professionals for publicly disclosing the appalling treatment of asylum seekers, including the sexual abuse of children.

“You’re going to die from a hunger strike protesting your inadequate treatment after being bashed in immigration detention? You shouldn’t have sought asylum by boat”, will be the next heartless press statement from Dutton. “If we relax our draconian policies, people might drown”.

Apparently anything is better than drowning.

 

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