Ask Peter “the skull” Dutton, our minister for gnome affairs, whose failed messianic bid on 24 August to supplant Malcolm Turnbull as Australia’s Prime Minister is mostly responsible for the Vesuvian-strength political disruption against the Liberals in Saturday’s state election in Victoria and political rockstar Julia Banks moving to the crossbench as an Independent, severing from the Liberal Party entirely.
DETERRING AND IMPRISONING asylum seekers is gaining popularity in the western world. Punishment by separation of children from parents now has occurred in both Australia and America historically and currently, invoking community backlash. America forthwith will follow Australia’s indefinite detention practices, even as Trump repudiates his policy on separation of children from parents. These practices contravene the Refugee Convention to which both America and Australia were signatories. Dutton emphasised the desire to be rid of this troublesome convention, saying:
“I think there is a need for like-minded countries to look at whether a convention designed decades ago is relevant today.”
Let us examine that which underpins our history of refugee conventions versus “deterrence” against refugees and their smugglers.
via Do unto refugees
It may have taken almost 16 years, but finally the whirligig of time is bringing in its revenges.
Girt by Sea: Australia, the Refugees and the Politics of Fear.
In a chapter titled “What Dare Not Speak Its Name”, I asked the forbidden question: was our prime minister, and by extension his government, actually racist?
John Howard already had form: he had amended the Native Title Act to enact the Wik response that favoured farmers over Aboriginal traditional owners, he had called for a slowdown on Asian immigration, and the entire basis of his 2001 election campaign – “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” – was one of jingoism if not xenophobia.
But did it go the whole way to outright racism? I offered the observation: “It is hard to believe that, had those rescued by the Tampa been white Zimbabwean farmers fleeing the brutal regime of President Mugabe, they would have been treated as hostile invaders and denigrated as economic migrants, illegals, and finally potential terrorists.”
Then I waited for the government or one of its many media boosters to offer a rebuttal. Deafening silence – until at last, some 16 years later, the emergence of Peter Dutton, blatantly and shamelessly demanding that white South African farmers should be encouraged to jump the queue in favour of those already languishing in the various camps – including, of course, those sponsored by Australia in Nauru and Manus Island.
It is worth noting that while the South African farmers may feel discriminated against by legislation that may take away some or all of their property, thus qualifying them as economic migrants, it is a big stretch to claim that they, as a class, let alone a race (as Dutton seems to define them) are facing deliberate political persecution.
Certainly there have been murders in South Africa – far more black deaths than white, if that matters, which it obviously doesn’t to Dutton. But much of South Africa is a violent, though not a lawless, society. To declare that the 74 farm murders between 2016 and 2017, which Tony Abbott effortlessly ramps up to 400, were all political reeks more of propaganda than of evidence.
Dutton is more than dog whistling; he is quite overtly promoting his own version of White Australia, in which all but unquestioning preference is to be accorded to whites who want residence, and the rest can rot away in whichever gulags they can find – we will decide.
“Once you start to merge the judicial and the political, you begin to erode the separation of powers. It’s a really regrettable path to go down.”
The country also dropped from ninth to 14th in its ranking on gender equality.
Australia, meanwhile, ranked 5th in the world for ‘Quality of Life’, which included measures such as “economically stable”, “a good job market”, and well developed public health and education systems. However it did terribly on the “affordable” measure.
Our worst ranking was under ‘Heritage’, where we lost marks for not having “a rich history”.
The survey respondents also gave us a very poor score when asked if Australia “has great food”.
Australian immigration minister does not comment on reports Muslim minority being paid to return to country where they face persecution
ReachTEL: 51-49 to LaborThe Coalition gets a better federal voting intention result from ReachTEL, although the result would be more typical of recent polling of preferences are applied as per the 2016 election result.Essential Research: 54-46 to LaborLabor maintains its wide lead in an Essential Research poll that also gauges opinion on party polarisation, same-sex marriage and foreign leaders.BludgerTrack: 53.0-47.0 to LaborA bit of a fillip for Labor in the latest reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, and also for Bill Shorten whose net approval rating has edged ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s.My thought for the day.”Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.”
The Turnbull Government confirms asylum seekers who arrived under the former Labor government remain unprocessed.
The realists among us know many things, not least of all that even though we’re all expendable, some of us are more expendable than others. Mathew Kenneally explains. It will be hard for him to accept, but it is a reality. Tony Abbott must leave Parliament. Peter Dutton should follow him. Australia no longer needsMore
This is a story of desperation, a saga that stretches across half a lifetime and in which no one has actually done anything wrong yet but where a soul-destroying injustice is poised to happen unless one man does the right thing.
Lyn Bender examines the recent re-branding of Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison and finds only “lovely lies” and the same old hard-hearted cruelty.
The government has ceased processing citizenship applications from boat-arrival refugees entitled to become Australians, leaving hundreds in limbo.
It’s not easy to pull off jokes about terrorism, but comedian Sean Devlin knows what he’s doing.
We hear the word “terrorism” in bouts of media hysteria — usually about Muslims — a lot more than any of us would prefer these days.
Devlin, who lives in Vancouver, was watching the news one day when he saw a reporter raise a simple but important question. The reporter asked politician Peter McKay, Canada’s former defense minister, how the government defined terrorism.
The minister’s curt reply: “Look it up.”
(That’s Madonna, not Peter McKay.)
Devlin took it upon himself to find out.
He felt a little hung up on the words “unauthorized or unofficial.”
(Cue laugh track.)
Still unsatisfied, he kept digging for more and found a report released by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (Canada’s CIA) that lays out all the groups they see as a threat to national security.
Devlin was shocked to see one group in particular that was dismissed as a threat: white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.
According to the report (which you can read in full if you like), the explicitly racist groups “do not overly propose serious acts of violence.”
Devlin goes on to recount one of several horrifying stories that occurred since that report was written. The short of it is that two white supremacists allegedly set a Filipino man on fire … just because. To which he makes a great point:
The video closes with with a seemingly contradictory finding from the Canadian spy agency’s documents — that “lone wolf” acts of terror are more common among white supremacist and right-wing extremist groups than radical Islamist groups.
So what’s up with all the Islamophobic, terror hysteria spread by the government and media?
In its cheap attacks on the president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, the Abbott government has shown it has a very prominent glass jaw. When Professor Triggs criticises the government, out comes a minister with a string of damnations, the most recent alleging that she has politicised her role. Say it often enough, and people will come to believe it. That is the way this government works. It seeds falsehoods and plays with words and meanings. It rethreads stories so that details get lost in translation.
What exactly has Professor Triggs done to deserve the thundering denunciations of this government? She has criticised its policies on human rights. She has denounced its treatment of asylum seekers. She has warned of executive overreach, of the dangers of investing ministers with more powers but without proper checks and balances and without the explicit authority of the people. And she has queried if the policy of unilaterally turning back boats carrying asylum seekers may be a reason why Indonesia and other neighbouring countries “will not engage with us on other issues that we care about, like the death penalty”.
To be clear, in those latter comments Professor Triggs did not specifically mention the execution of drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, as Immigration Minister Peter Dutton suggested. She did allude to the death penalty in pressing her point that if Australia wanted common ground on some matters with regional neighbours, it needed to consider how its own policies affected other countries.
The link was there, but these are hardly controversial comments and to make such a link is not a “complete disgrace” or an “outrageous slur”, as Mr Dutton contends. They are contributions to the debate about the efficacy of government policies and the management of diplomatic ties
Professor Triggs says the kinds of things governments don’t like to hear. That is the essence of her role. The commission is required to be alert to potential abuses of power, to criticise when it detects human rights intrusions, to call out the danger and act as monitor. Professor Triggs and her fellow commissioners are fundamentally not there to support the government of the day. They are there to act on our behalf and for the rights of all people within Australian territory.
Professor Triggs, though, has been the target of a despicable, orchestrated campaign by the Abbott government. It was led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who accused her of acting in a “blatantly partisan” manner for investigating the conditions of children held in immigration detention. He declared the government had lost confidence in Professor Triggs. Then it was Attorney-General George Brandis, who tried to force her resignation by sending a bureaucrat to offer her another role.
The latest unwarranted and high-handed volley was from Mr Dutton. He needs to have a hard look at himself. Remember he brought to cabinet (with Mr Abbott) the unheralded and preposterously un-researched proposal to cancel, on the say-so of a minister, the citizenships of Australians suspected of terrorism activities.
As Immigration Minister, Mr Dutton has charge of one of the most important and sensitive government portfolios. His brief requires focus on matters of national security as well as national cohesion. To enhance national security requires more than extra defence and police powers or border protection services or, indeed, stripping citizenship rights from individuals. As Immigration Minister, he should be building tolerance and inclusion, not demonising and ostracising.
The efforts of all these senior ministers to blunt the independent advocate for human rights underscores how desperate the government is to deflect criticism of other matters, and how haughtily some ministers seem to view the power of the executive. On that last point, authoritarian is a word that springs to mind.