Morrison’s Christmas Island stunt

By March 7, 2019Australian Politics

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ordered the re-opening of the Christmas Island Detention Centre at the cost of many hundreds of millions of dollars, just so he can prevent any ill inmates from Nauru and Manus being shipped to mainland Australia for medical treatment. This was done in response to the Medevac Bill which passed parliament a few weeks ago, as Morrison desperately tried to convince people of the ludicrous proposition that the bill would weaken border protection. In fact, before the Medevac Bill, Morrison was advised by the security services that there would be no problem with the legislation because they could insist that when medical transferees had received their treatment, they could be shipped back to Manus or Nauru2. This would not have suited Morrison, so the story that appeared in Murdoch’s Australian ‘newspaper’ was that the security services advised the government that the Medevac Bill was a security threat. As the Director-General of ASIO, Duncan Lewis said, that article misrepresented the advice ASIO gave the government3.

The Medevac Bill story has been swamped by the regular scandals and government resignations in recent weeks. So, in a desperate attempt to try to gee-up his support from the far right, what has Morrison done? He and Immigration Minister David Coleman flew to Christmas Island in a Royal Australian Air Force VIP jet at the cost of about $60,000. Morrison tweeted:

“As Prime Minister I closed the Christmas Island detention centre and got all the children off Nauru. Because Labor voted to weaken our borders we have acted on official advice to reopen Christmas Island.”4

As is clear from the foregoing; there is no weakening of border control. This is also clearly demonstrated by the fact that under the previous regime (i.e. before the Medevac Bill), 1,246 asylum-seekers had come to Australia for medical treatment and only 282 of those were returned to offshore detention including only one in the whole of 2018. Nearly 900 remain in Australia1.

Morrison followed the previous tweet with:

“Today I inspected the facilities on Christmas Island to ensure they were ready to go. This is deterrent to people smugglers and to anyone who thinks they can game the system to get to Australia.”4

This is simply a modified version of Hanson’s credo ‘We are in danger of being swamped by Asians or Muslims,’ so enthusiastically adopted by John Howard. It implies that you cannot trust these asylum-seekers, nor can you trust any doctors to do their job properly, as they will be so easily conned by these dastardly Muslims or Asians.

It is clear that there was no need for Morrison to go to Christmas Island to check that facilities are up to par. There are health service professionals who have a much better understanding of what is required to treat sick asylum-seekers. This Christmas Island ‘inspection’ was just another Morrison stunt. As David Crowe said in the Sydney Morning Herald, tax-payers paid about $2,000 per minute for a 30 minute press conference in which Morrison spouted the same old drivel. Such a waste of taxpayer funds is simply a cynical exercise in campaigning at our expense5. Morrison is a pathetic human being who will stop at nothing to retain power. He will pick your pocket or bump off the occasional asylum-seeker if he thinks it will benefit him electorally. He really is a disgrace to this nation.



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