Some time ago, I wrote a piece about the federal government ‘going full Trump’ in that members of parliament seem to believe they can get away with bald-faced lies and not be held to account. This has been exacerbated either by some real journalists allowing them to get away with it, or by the lies being expressed on Murdoch broadcast media (e.g. Sky News Australia)2 or regurgitated by ‘ruperters’ in Murdoch’s print media3. Now Scott Morrison is taking his propaganda directly from the moronic Trump almost verbatim.
While Pauline Hanson initially stated that we are in danger of being overrun by Asians, then Muslims and more recently climate scientists, Scott Morrison has now warned that if the Medevac legislation is passed in the House of Representatives (it was passed yesterday), we could be swamped by paedophiles, rapists and murderers4. In this, he is clearly repeating Trump’s ludicrous assertions about people trying to get to the US via the border with Mexico. This idiotic statement immediately makes one wonder what was going through his mind at the time. Not much, I suspect. He added that hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of single men will be sent to Australia. For this to be the case, most, if not all of the thousand people on Manus and Nauru would need to be admitted to Australia. His hyperbole is simply childish.
Perhaps even worse than Morrison is Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, who has stated that the medical transfer of sick refugees from Manus and Nauru to Australia posed a national security risk. Kon Karapanagiotidis, founder and CEO of the Asylum-Seeker Resource Centre has debunked Dutton’s lies one by one and that is worth repeating here5.
Dutton: This would be the first time refugees have been brought from offshore without Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) clearance.
Kon: Of the 810 sick refugees brought to Australia under the Coalition government, almost none have had ASIO clearances. Most were brought here by court order within a few days and without incident.
Dutton: The Australian government would have no control over sick refugees brought here on medical advice.
Kon: All would be placed in community detention which can range from guards outside the hospital room (standard practice), to being held in an actual detention centre. It is solely the Minister’s call. Also, community detention arrangements cannot be appealed in a court. The Minister has sole non-reviewable discretion and can keep people detained in as restrictive conditions as he deems necessary for public safety and national security interests.
Dutton: People who pose an actual threat to Australia could be brought in on medical grounds and we’d then be stuck with them.
Kon: If it was discovered that a person posed a real threat, Australia doesn’t have to accept them; we have discretion under Article 1F of the UN Refugee Convention
Dutton: Sick people brought here could include people not found to be refugees that we’d be forced to accept and would lawyer up.
Kon: A person who has no refugee claims can be deported if they do not trigger our obligations under the Refugee Convention. They have no legal basis to stay.
Dutton: We need to keep Manus and Nauru open to stop people seeking asylum by sea.
Kon: No evidence. Refuted by former head of Border Force. More people have been brought to Australia and the US already (1260) than left on Manus and Nauru (1080) and this has not happened. So, why would it now?
Dutton: Bringing hundreds of men who came by sea seeking asylum to Australia would be dangerous.
Kon: There are over 15,000 men already in Australia who came by sea between 2012-2013. The massive majority are law abiding, peaceful, doing their best to give back to the community and to start a new life5.
The attitude of the Morrison government to this bill is almost impossible to understand. I can only assume that it is pandering to the knuckle-draggers out there who are frightened of brown people or that they are having a dose of the Abbotts in that they believe it is imperative to oppose everything that even seems vaguely compassionate or progressive. No other reason seems even remotely possible.
Something which is perhaps worth mentioning is that, prior to Christmas, Australian Border Force (ABF) cut staff at airports over Christmas to avoid a $300 million overspend at the Department of Home Affairs6. It seems the government’s enthusiasm to protect our borders and to ‘keep Australians safe’ is not so important at airports over Christmas. In addition, Morrison and Dutton have also ordered ‘operational limitations’ on ABF patrol boats. ‘Operational limitations’ means cuts to patrols to save money on fuel and other costs, to the extent that ‘ships will cease active patrolling to achieve this fuel saving’. One suspects that this could be a tactic to open cracks in border security in the lead-up to the federal election6. Tampa anyone?