Murdoch hack, Greg Brown, who has been the subject of one of these diatribes before1,2, has acted as stenographer for Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a repetitive dog-whistle piece for Murdoch’s The Australian3. I suppose such repetition is what you do when you don’t have much content and you need to pad out the column inches. In Brown’s piece, Morrison says that the Labor Party wants to “abolish offshore processing as we know it” by planning to vote in favour of a bill that would allow doctors to approve the transfer of asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island. This bill has already passed the Senate, in November, and Morrison is wetting himself that he could lose should it come to a vote in the House of Representatives. Morrison stated that this bill would enable “hundreds and hundreds” of asylum-seekers to be transferred to Australia by talking to a doctor “who is an advocate”. This has shades of Pauline Hanson’s ‘we are in danger of being overrun’ by Asians, or Muslims, or climate scientists or whichever is her latest bogeyman.
The bill that is frightening Morrison was put to the Senate not by the Labor Party, but by Dr Kerryn Phelps, the member for Wentworth, who has stated that “clinicians rather than bureaucrats” should make medical decisions about transfers of ill asylum-seekers from Manus and Nauru4. Despite Phelps being the instigator, Morrison would not criticise her despite this being her bill, because he may want to try to sweet-talk her at some stage, to try to convince her to vote with his party, perhaps on something like the referral of Peter Dutton to the High Courts for a Section 44 decision. That is, if ever they get around to a vote in the very few sitting days left before the election.
That Brown needed so much repetition in his ‘story’ either demonstrates his laziness or his lack of integrity. The ‘hundreds and hundreds’ fear-mongering of Morrison is laughable given that we are a nation of 25 million people. It is also disingenuous of Morrison to make the assertion that Manus and Nauru are offshore processing centres. While many asylum-seekers in those centres have been assessed as genuine refugees, they are still in detention after more than 5 years. These are simply concentration camps5. Morrison and his enthusiastic supporters like Brown never ever mention, when they bleat about stopping the boats, the fact that the number of asylum-seekers is at an all-time record. They want the knuckle-draggers to believe that fewer asylum-seekers are arriving on our shores. People smugglers are still doing a roaring trade; their business model has not been broken, just revised to work around the idiocy of Australian politicians. These days, they are sending their charges not by boat, but by plane6.