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What Goes Around, Comes Around

In 2013, after Kevin Rudd had been reinstalled as prime minister, he bowed, quite disgracefully, to Coalition pressure and reopened both Manus Island and Nauru as detention centres for those refugees and asylum seekers who came to Australia by boat.

To his shame, he went one step further and made the political decision that such arrivals would never be allowed to come to Australia. In doing so, he believed he had shut down debate on the issue of the boat people. It was an attempt to clear the decks before calling a federal election.

He made it Labor policy, it was enacted by a Labor government, but also subject to review after 12 months. It was a disgraceful decision motivated entirely by the fear of being wiped out at the next election.

It was a blatant attempt to counter the relentless pressure being applied by the opposition who knew they were on an electoral winner.

As we know, the Coalition won the election (or Labor lost it, depending on which way you look at it) and the new prime minister, Tony Abbott, handed control of the boat people over to the new Immigration minister, Scott Morrison.

From that point on, the true colours of Scott Morrison and the more sadistic members of the new government were revealed. With the broader support of a soulless electorate, a quite deliberate regime of brutal, psychological bullying, that went far beyond anything Labor had intended, had begun.

It continued, despite riots, deaths and serious medical issues being ignored. It continued despite attempted suicides, hunger strikes, sewing lips together, bashings by staff, all well known to the relevant department at the time, but kept hidden from the Australian public, until a few brave whistle-blowers spoke out. While protests at their treatment were held in all capital cities, those protests fell on deaf ears.

But when the truth was out, it became clear to the government that their hard line was resonating favourably with the Australian people, so they did nothing to stop it.

Fast forward five years to today and it appears there has been a change of heart, a conscience kicker, that has impressed itself in the hearts and minds of that same, once-soulless electorate. How noble of them. How proud we should all be.

A galaxy poll this week tells us that 80% now favour the part solution offered by the New Zealand government to take 150 detainees a year.

What has changed? Perhaps it’s the realisation that five years of torture, five years detention for no crime, five years of children knowing no other life, now suffering mental problems, is enough. Perhaps we have come to realise what a wretched, heartless mob of bastards we have become. But now we need to call the dogs off.

So now we hear the calls…..Release them! Bring them to Australia. The punishment has been far worse than the crime. Think of the children, the poor children. Let them go to New Zealand. Bring them here. And so on. How noble of us. How Christian!

Yet still, the government, now led ironically by Scott Morrison, the original architect of a system that brought about the torture, the deaths in detention, both physical and mental, is holding firm. His asylum seeker solution, that previously carried the support of the masses, is now seen in a negative light by the very same people who once championed his heartlessness. But, thus far, he is not listening.

The bulk of the Australian people, these conscience-pricked weaklings who never meant it to go this far, have suddenly got cold feet. How pathetic of them. They are running up the white flag. How ironic! Where was their conscience, two, three, four years ago when we collectively turned our backs on defenceless families who fled tyranny and political persecution in search of a better life?

Well, Scott Morrison is having none of that. This self-professed Christian, this happy-clapper, reborn of, and celebrating the gifts, of the Holy Spirit, will not bend. He can’t. If he did, he would be admitting his boat people solution, the one he hypocritically blames on Labor, was wrong.

So now, the relentless pressure he once placed on Labor, is now on him. What goes around, comes around. The Australian conscience, the one that went missing for five years, has found itself again. How so conveniently noble!

If justice is ever to be served on this shameful episode in our short history, both Manus and Nauru must be terminated in totality. But not the memory. That should live on and forever be etched in our consciousness. Those camps should be retained as reminders of our past failures.

Now, for the first time in five years, there seems to be an end in sight. But don’t hold your breath. It will take some doing for any politician to admit it has been a failed policy.

And to help prevent it happening again, we should teach our children that just as we persecuted our indigenous population in past centuries, we also persecuted and tortured those who came here and begged us to help them, as recently as 2018.

Well may we say, advance Australia fair. Because nothing will advance this shameful legacy. Labor may have started it, but Scott Morrison will forever, own it.


14 comments

  1. Diannaart

    John

    Well said. A concise history of how Australia finally and completely lost any claim to moral superiority.

    Whenever Labor has introduced policy leaning towards the ruthless side of pragmatic, the LNP never fail to catch that particular ball and turn it into a monster of institutionalised authoritarianism.

    A monster so corrupted that even those who supported its ideology are now claiming “enough is enough”. The children will all be released from detention – there are votes in it.

    Perhaps Nauru and Manus will be closed. That will be up to Labor, which, I expect will win the next election.

    Just how much repair to Australia’s psyche and moral sense of self is unknown. We live in the age of nonfacts, convenient fiction, an age where too much honesty, goodwill and compassion is viewed as weak. People smugglers might smuggle more people, FFS! A possibility which carries far more import than climate, environment, health, education … the future and everything.

    Good Luck, Bill Shorten, you’re gonna need it.

  2. Kaye Lee

    It shouldn’t be this hard to convince the decision-makers that treating each other with respect and humanity is the right thing to do.

  3. Ill fares the land

    As is usualy the case with politicians, when they are strongly stating their views on an issue and exhorting us to hold those same strong views, or to be relieved that only they are dealing with such matters and “keeping us safe”, they are usually diverting attention away from other issues that we should also be concerned about.

    In this case, while the LNP shrieked about a few thousand refugees and kept them in custody in Mauru and Manus, many hundreds of thousands entered the country “legitimately”. Many of those came on sub-class 457 visas that should not have been issued at all (for low-skilled labour) or should have been subjected to a greater degree of scrutiny, including the employers being asked to demonstrate how they had sought to fill the available jobs using local staff (some would have passe, but many would have failed that test); people who came on tourist visas and then took up full time work with no intention of returning home; many more who came as students.

    I am not against immigration per se – I am opposed to uncontrolled immigration where the beneficiaries are employers who use cheap imported labour as a tool to reduce upward pressure on wages (over history of centuries, it is low-skilled workers who invariably lose out when immigration is high).

    But what would be the downside if we allowed a few thousand refugees to all come to Australia? My guess is that the consequences will be insignificant.

    On the other hand, the flood of migrants who have come through the front door have helped push up housing prices, taken university places that might have gone to locals and taken jobs from locals. I realise these are tend to be the core of the rants of the nutcases like Hanson, Anning, Katter and those of their ilk, but within the scare-mongering by right-wing nutters, there is substance that can be supported by evidence – moreover, it is not what the bulk of Australians want – so how does a government that represents “we the people” manage to support substantial migrant inflows? How does a government that represents the people not release the refugees on Nauru and Manus? How is that governance for all? Answer – it isn’t – it is the government decided by the few for the benefit of the few.

    In any case, does the navy now have control over our northern borders or does it not? If it does, how can there later be a flood of boats? If it doesn’t, what has the LNP been keeping from Australians?

  4. New England Cocky

    It is wonderful to see “committed Christian politicians” showing their true beliefs of self-importance, self-gratification and denial of any so-called Christian weaknesses (?virtues?) like compassion, protection for strangers, generosity of spirit and concern for the well-being of the whole community.

    Time for us voters to wake up and call all of them to account, tossing out of political office those presently on the Treasury benches and demanding action from the fresh government that likely will be of a different political persuasion.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Apparently, allowing people to go to the US didn’t start a deluge of boats. Then again, who would want to live in Trump’s America.

  6. Jon Chesterson

    UNTIL THE BELL RINGS

    Alas today what the Liberals stand for and what they do are two different things, and both are very different from what Robert Menzies stood for and did all those years ago. He must be turning in his grave today.

    Alas Morrison’s ‘Until The Bell Rings’ (6 September 2018) speech in Albury was (still is) hogwash, full of holes, a sieve, a drain pipe, a sewer; and yes you can call it hypocrisy and sophistry, but hogwash will do. Morrison’s bell is already ringing after just a few weeks since the serpent crept in pretending to be christian and a family man, a community man, an honest Australian….

    That smug smirk, so this is his creed, believe what you will, but it’s not worth the paper it’s written on, not when you hold up a lump of coal in Parliament mock and grin, and hold the nation to ransom on behalf of the coal mining lobby, big banks, no energy policy and total contempt for climate change and global warming.

    Not when you refuse to release children and their families dying from Suicide and Resignation Syndrome, from false imprisonment, torture and access to basic medical health care offshore for five years with no hope in sight, can you claim the values and beliefs he claims to uphold in this ‘Until the Bell Rings’ speech. Menzies would be turning in his grave.

    And when the world is held upside down and out to dry, besmirched and lost, tachyons glowing by the Morrison-Dutton Liberals; when our children’s children cry out in their anger and their shame on a dying world, Scott Morrison is the man who should have resigned – ‘Morrison’s bell, a treasurer’s creed’ and here’s my poem –

    Yes Australia we should all be ashamed – road to damnation. And still Morrison ‘the original architect of a system that brought about the torture, the deaths in detention, both physical and mental, is holding firm’, still he lies to us telling us he has been slowly-quietly getting them out of detention, (that was Howard’s secretly recalcitrant and grumbly way a long time ago before the current misguided regime). Dutton and Morrison’s Border Force and Department of Home Affairs, their wretched excuse for a government are still being mindlessly dragged through the Federal Courts over and over again to the point Dutton now seeks to overturn the Law of this Land, contesting the Judicial system’s jurisdiction, our constitution, separation of powers, the very fabric of society that protects us all.

    The bells are ringing loud and clear on our streets, (and Menzies words are to haunt us), yes it has taken many years for the Australian public to recognise this evil, not too late for Australia to act, but too late to save our souls – Dammed already, should have thought about that before locking up innocent children and refugees in the first place all those years ago, destroying their lives, ignoring the Rule of Law and International Law, ignoring our own duty and responsibility to justice, morality and fair go. What hypocrites we are!

    Morrison’s Bell – A Treasurer’s Creed (the poem) https://allpoetry.com/poem/14159662-Morrisons-Bell—A-Treasurers-Creed-by-Barddylbach

  7. Pappinbarra Fix

    54-46 news pollution

  8. Ian Hughes

    A very powerful piece, John. Thank you.

    Our national silence on this issue shames us all, except those whose voices who were always present but who were deliberately ignored. The national mood has finally changed for the better, but our tin-eared and so-called “government” will fight on with no shame.

    Even the Murdoch dross has sniffed the breeze and begun to shift their position, no doubt wanting to be seen as a “champion” for the refugees – yeah, right.

    Labor has been complicit and pathetic, too timid to do the right thing in favour of avoiding a wedge from LNP/IPA.

    This is another stain on our national story. Our inhumanity is staggering.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Craig Kelly is all over Sky news and Facbook

    “LABOR’S HYPOCRISY ON # AT KIDS OFF NAURU

    In 2016 Labor blocked the legislation which would have enabled these ‘’kids’’ to be resettled in New Zealand, because they opposed ‘’lifelong bans’’.

    Now Labor say they’d support life long bans.

    Labor are simply using these children as pawns in a poltical game. If they were serious they say, we now support the government’s legislation.

    But they refuse.

    The reason they won’t, is that they callously think it’s to their political advantage to run a compassionista campaign, # KidsOffNauru, trying to make out how mean-spirited the Coalition is.

    Simply it’s the Labor Party using these people as political pawns..”

    People are reminding him how the Coalition blocked the Malaysia solution and how Scott Morrison got people on Christmas Island to ring up Ricky Muir crying.

    “Children on Christmas Island were being instructed to phone Senator Ricky Muir and beg him to let them out. Muir admitted that he had spoken to “crying staff” from a Christmas Island detention centre.

    If the directive to give the children Muir’s number came from Morrison’s office, as it seems incredibly likely it did (Morrison has not denied this claim), then it came from the man who already has the power to free them.

    That fundamentally changes everything. It means it is not simply children calling a politician to convince them that a change in policy would free them. It is far more akin to a terrorist getting their hostage to phone a list of demands through to their family, promising that they won’t be released until the family gives into said demands.”

  10. helvityni

    Jon Chesterton, Morrison’s Bell – A Treasurer’s Creed, a good poem.

    Spent some time reading poems on that excellent cite, some that I know and some unknown to me…

    Ian Hughes, Labor is often too timid for me too, what are they scared of… They must know by now that it does not matter what they do, the Libs will say: ‘it is, it was, Labor’s fault…’

  11. terence mills

    The coalition are insisting that Labor are blocking the ability for the government to move families and children off Nauru.

    The prime minister insists that anybody transferred to New Zealand (but not the USA) should never have the right to visit Australia, not because they have committed any crime – because they haven’t – but because they were tricked by people smugglers into handing over their life savings on the promise that they would be well received as refugees in Australia – which they weren’t.

    Labor argue that an asylum seeker/ refugee who is transferred to and takes up residence in New Zealand and, after a five year residential period applies for and is granted New Zealand citizenship should be treated like any other New Zealand citizen and not discriminated against (New Zealand agree with this position).

    Morrison says he will not negotiate with Labor (he calls it horse-trading) and thus we have the current and ongoing impasse.

    Former Human Rights Commissioner and , in my view highly intelligent commentator in contrast to, say, Craig Kelly, has said recently :

    Professor Triggs said the plan to stop those refugees ever obtaining a valid visa to enter Australia – including for tourism or business purposes – was “quite improper, illegal, manipulative and wrong”.

    But “if it gets them off [Nauru and Manus Island] into civilised conditions in New Zealand … then I think we have to go for it”, she said.

    “It’s not a choice I would ever really want to make at a moral level, but at the same time you have to be practical.”

    So, the question is : should Labor capitulate to Morrison’s nonsensical restrictions just to get the families and kids off Nauru (and lest we forget Manus) or should Labor stick by their principles ?

  12. Diannaart

    Terence

    Will the “never, ever come to Australia” rule be set in concrete, forever and ever, till the end of time?

    Or is it something Labor can agree to right now and get those poor abused people out of those concentration camps?

    If so, Labor should agree to the petty, vindictive Libs.

    If there is a time calling for pragmatism this is it!

  13. terence mills

    Just as we were getting some clarity in this Nauru Manus thing, Tony Abbott seeks to be helpful on 2GB :

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

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

    He could well have added that he believes that these people should be detained on Nauru and Manus for the terms of their natural lives because that’s what his rhetoric is pointing to. What is wrong with these people ?

  14. ChristopherJ

    Well said, John, and Jon.

    It is our shame that we were silent when we should have been vocal.

    We should be vocal now, but most of us just get on with our lives. No community in the cities, so we come on here to find one.

    Wrong with politicians, like Tony Abbott, TM? I think its empathy and narcissism et al

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