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Turnbull and Trump: Masters of depravity

For those of you who haven’t read the full transcript of the phone call between US President Donald Trump and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, here’s the link.

For the politically aware, the transcript serves to confirm what we’d long since concluded: the agreement by the US to take refugees from Manus Island and Nauru is entirely dependent on the outcome of an “extreme vetting” process which, as Turnbull reassures Trump, means the US doesn’t actually have to take anyone. Trump only has to be seen to follow the process.

Turnbull also reassures a skittish Trump, worried about the moral character of the refugees, that they are good people we have imprisoned only because they travelled to Australia by boat. Had they arrived by plane, Turnbull states, they would be living here now.

Turnbull has unwittingly impaled himself on the horns of a dilemma: in order to persuade Trump he isn’t sending him “the next Boston Bombers” the PM, no doubt unquestioning in his belief that the phone call will remain secret, goes to some lengths to convince Trump the refugees are of good character and not potential terrorists, but we have imprisoned them anyway, in horrendous circumstances, for the non-crime of having arrived in a boat.

Let this sink in. Australian politicians have imprisoned and tortured those now acknowledged by the Prime Minister to be good people, purely to gain political advantage. Australian politicians have spent billions of taxpayer dollars on the confinement and torture of good people, for political advantage.

In my understanding of the word, this is depraved.

Some mainstream media commentators have praised Turnbull’s demeanour during the phone call. Some have claimed that he “won.” This is how depravity is normalised. By media unquestioningly accepting the “normality” of depraved exchanges. There can be no “winner” in what amounts to a discussion on people trafficking by people traffickers, and I have yet to see this exchange between Turnbull and Trump named for what it is.

What Turnbull “won” is unclear, since at its most base, the negotiation concluded with Trump being reassured that he does not have to take anyone from Manus and Nauru as they can all fail his extreme vetting, that’s up to him, while Turnbull grovelingly agrees that we will take all those Trump “needs to move on, anyone. Anyone.” Momentarily setting aside the depraved nature of the discussion, how can this possibly be a “win” for Turnbull and Australia?

It’s indicative of how normal depravity has become in Australian politics that much of the mainstream media is apparently entirely unaware of it: even the ABC’s Chris Uhlman described Turnbull as having “won.” Are commentators incapable of acknowledging the depravity of two excessively privileged men treating refugees as less than human?

The leaked transcript has revealed nothing new: it has confirmed what many of us already long believed: that refugees imprisoned by Australia in off-shore concentration camps have been stripped of all humanity, and reduced to political pawns in a depraved political game designed to appease the most ignorant, racist and base amongst us.

The question is, are we prepared to accept this depravity from our politicians? Because if we are, we enter into this depraved state alongside them and by our collusion, and the collusion of our media, normalise the persecution of innocent people for political gain.

You think this will stop with refugees? You’re dreaming.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. Florence nee Fedup

    What’s more they are transactional businessmen. It is a shame the are not President and Prime minister.

  2. Michael Taylor

    It’s equally appalling that our mainstream media is only concerned with “who won” the phone call.

  3. Joseph Carli

    It’s a classic case of the cabal of complicity….the secret handshake, the old school tie, the Cayman Island confederacy and any number of other liaisons. Crooks and criminals in suits to make them look honest…

  4. helvityni

    Thank you ,Jennifer, for your excellent post.

    Those two business men seemed to be totally oblivious to the fact that they were discussing PEOPLE, not real estate, not profits and losses…

    The Insiders on ABC cackling on when deciding who won this exchange, as if they were talking about some sporting event…

  5. guest

    The whole ‘deal’ is unspeakably deranged. Yet the Murdoch WE Australian praises the antics of Turnbull on the front page: “Refugee deal ‘horrible’ for Trump but still on”.

    There are two by-lines inserted: “How many other international leaders have talked Trump into doing something he does not want to do?” (Greg Sheridan)
    and “We know now Malcolm Turnbull’s explosive phone call ranks as one of his finest moments.” (Cameron Stewart)

    So there it is, the whole matter explained for the rusted on. Never mind the brevity, the omissions and the spin.

    And Stewart’s claim on page 2: “Blunting Trump’s rant is PM’s finest moment.” According to Stewart, Trump is a raging bull and Turnbull is all sweetness and light.

    What Stewart leaves out is Turnbull’s foul explanation of what his immigration policy is. He leaves out Turnbull’s confession that he has done it to good people and therefore Trump need have no fears of terrorism. And he omits Turnbull’s statement that Trump need not take any refugees at all, just go through the motions (process).

    And Trump’s conclusion: “You are worse than I am.”

    It is another example of how the Murdoch media is full of spin. No mention here of the failure of Turnbull or Trump to make mention of the other aspect of this wicked deal: who are the people to be exchaged with the Manus/Nauru people and what will be done with them?

    To get to the negative side of the Coalition chaos, we need to go to page 15 where Niki Savva tells us: “Liberals face that sinking feeling again. Removing Turnbull guarantees defeat.” It is part of a re-issue of her book

    It is not a jolly-up statement. It reminds us of how Turnbull said he displaced Abbott because the Coalition had suffered 30 negative poll results in a row – and now heads towards that same number. There is no one to replace Turnbull, but Dutton might make a run at it. Oh joy!

    Even Paul Kelly is not altogether happy. Avoiding the phone call disaster he elucidates on the twin problem of plebiscites: one about SSM and the other proposed by Shorten about the Republic. “This is an exacting moment for Turnbull. At stake is his judgement , his ability a leader to mobilise discipline in the government, to mobilise his cabinet and to achieve an outcome that minimises the damage from a situation where some degree of damage seems certain.”

    Any bets on the chances?

    Deeper in, Chris Kenny laments: “Liberal faithful still searching for a leader.” Byline: “The electorate is uncertain of what the Coalition stands for.”

    But on the same page, Greg Sheridan tries for some gleam of hope: “All credit to Turnbull for trying to seal a deal with a troubled Trump.” Two troubled leaders wheeler-dealing with each other. Horrible ugly.

    And on page 22, Peter Van Onselen says: “Turnbull may be forced to put a stamp on postal plebiscite.”

    So much for a leader attempting to carry out an election “promise”

    Has Turnbull any chance if Murdoch turns against him? And who would replace him? No one, apparently.

  6. helvityni

    ‘Two troubled leaders wheeler-dealing with each other. Horrible ugly.’

    I see them both as losers when it comes to morals. Loss/Loss for all three, Trump, Turnbull AND the refugees.

  7. Christina Heath

    Thank you Jennifer. A great piece of writing. The attitude of these two leaders is repulsive and they are morally bankrupt. Sadly the ABC is no longer the powerful voice of reason it used to be. I despair for the future for these poor refugees.

  8. lefturnahead

    Nothing of value is going to improve in this country until we get a much better class of journalist and journalism, let’s face it, 99.9% of information we all receive comes from some form of journalism,print paper on line etc etc …..and you can hardly blame the politicians for getting away with some outrageous policies,actions and decisions,they are following human nature,and like unsupervised children if left to their own devices chaos will always reign!~!

    I also heard the Presstitutes on Insiders this morning as well, and i was disgusted with their sycophantic attitude,especially with their cringe worthy opinions of the phone call with Trump,and their audible silence when Cassidy mentioned [ in a very mild way i must say] the 30 million dollars Turnbull gave Murdoch,courtesy of the tax payers... my god they were so gutless when that question was raised,and just shows how wide spread Murdoch's evil has become!~!~!

    Rave now finished.... over and out!~!~

  9. Florence nee Fedup

    No one won. I believe it showed up Turnbull in a way we haven’t seen before. A nasty, hollow man. A man with little understanding of refugees.

  10. Frank Smith

    Deranged indeed. These so-called businessmen are “dealing” in people. That sickens me and should sicken every fellow human being. What depravity!!!


    Turnbull -“It is not because they are bad people…. to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the PRODUCT…It does not oblige you to take ONE person (PRODUCT)… It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to ONLY go through the process…We will take anyone that you want us to take…We will take more! …” – seriously, no matter what Murdoch or LNP spin…how is this a win? or good business? or for the benefit of Australia? Australia is basically begging – so demoralising

  12. stephengb2014

    Thats it – thats the word I have been looking for,



    This is the LNP and many of their supporters

    But NOTHING describes our current pm like the word DEPRAVED.

    S G B

  13. stephengb2014

    Sorry Jennifer,

    I should have said thank you for the word ‘DEPRAVED’
    It describes so perfectly, I promise to fit it in whenever I am forced to comment on this pm and this government.


    Apologies to Henry Higgins

    S G B

  14. Kyran

    Dear Mr Turnbull
    The ASRC posted on face book just before midday, 7th August;

    “We are truly heartbroken to tell you that another refugee has died on Manus Island.
    We ask people to not share the name of the man who died on #Manus for next day. We don’t want family learning this tragic news on social media.
    (We will provide more information once we can confirm what we know).”

    The camp on Manus is being shut down, with power and water being cut prior to any secure accommodation being found for the inmates. Whether this is a contributing factor to this death remains to be seen.
    What is inarguable, even in the absence of specific details on this death, is that your policy, like your phone call, is a sham.
    The occupants on Nauru have already declared;

    “If you don’t let us free, at least dump us back in the ocean. We are sick, we are tired, we just want to die.”

    There is no point trying to discuss with you, the depraved, the nature of your depravity. Given your track record on policy by expediency, it seems there is little point in discussing anything with you. Given your government’s need for secrecy, as some sort of veil for your unconscionable behaviour, there is little point in asking for details on exactly what your plans are for these people. Given your poor regard for anything even vaguely associated with the truth, your responses would not be credible. Other than to the deluded. Your fellow parliamentarians.

    There can be only one question for you.

    How many deaths will be acceptable?

    Like Lady Macbeth, you may well find the price of your naked ambition to be no more than an irremovable blood stain. Like Lady Macbeth, may you never have the prospect of sleeping untroubled.

    How many deaths will be acceptable, in your depravity?

    Let this sink in. Deaths in custody. Our inglorious past, our inglorious present, our inglorious future.
    Your legacy awaits you, Mr Turnbull. Sleep well.

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

    Thank you Ms Wilson and commenters. Take care

  15. Jennifer Wilson

    Kyran, this news is heartbreaking.

  16. Michael Taylor

    Heartbreaking for us, Jennifer, but not even so much as an inconvenience for the government. It’s a ‘nothing’.

    That is also heartbreaking.

  17. Kyran

    An article was published by CNN on 7th August, after the release of the transcript. It is apparent that several interviews were conducted with the refugee’s and asylum seekers on Nauru.
    Mr Brisbane had published ‘Schmooze, Turnbull, Trump and Leaks’ on the 6th August, finishing with this;
    “Whatever, I suspect that it’ll only be a matter of time before the Liberals start trying to argue that there are far fewer children in detention because a number of them have turned eighteen.”
    I only mention that due to the following passage from the CNN report.

    “Refugee Yasaman Bagheri, 19, said Turnbull and Trump’s conversation exposed for her that the agreement was a “fake deal.”
    “They don’t care about people,” she said. “They are willing to sacrifice innocent people, women and children to make their political point.”
    Bagheri has been living on Nauru since she was 15, but said she can no longer bear the poor conditions and lack of opportunities.
    Her family has applied to the US resettlement program, and she remembered how happy everyone in the camp had been when it was first announced.
    Eskandari Khah has also signed up for the program. He has been interviewed twice by US officials, most recently in February, and had his fingerprints taken, but said he has not heard anything about his application in months.
    Last week, refugees on Nauru began to hold regular demonstrations, with one of the demands being for an update on the status of the US program.”

    Much of the information contained on the ‘Free the children NAURU’ page reflects the rollercoaster of emotions these people have been subjected to. The protests on Nauru last year were broken up forcefully by the authorities but were a precursor to the announcement of ‘the deal’. The tone of their posts has changed notably since the disclosure of the transcript. The futility of their situation seems to be sinking in, hence the most recent protests.

    Some two hours ago, they posted a cryptic note.

    “A terrible situation is unfolding on Nauru right now!”

    With regard to the 31 year old man on Manus, he was found hanging in a tree. The official line is ‘nothing suspicious’, whilst his friends have a different view.

    ““Like all the others who have died on Manus, Hamid should never have been in detention or been on Manus. Detention had robbed him of his mental health and now it has taken his life. Whatever the immediate cause, it is Dutton and Turnbull who are responsible for his death,” said Rintoul
    While suicide is suspected, mystery surrounds his death. His body was found near the school well outside the East Lorengau centre. Refugees on Manus are convinced that his death is suspicious as Hamid had often been beaten by locals.”

    One more death on Manus, more blood on Turnbull’s hands

    The situation is heartbreaking. Protests, no matter how well attended, and petitions, no matter how many signatures, will not budge these depraved fools. It seems to me inevitable there will be more deaths. Hence the question, how many deaths are acceptable?
    Take care

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