We have to thank Andrew Bolt for giving this embarassment more air to the detriment of himself and Gerard Henderson neither of whom laid a glove on Bolt’s media nemesis Waleed Aly. Who was invited to NZ unlike them (ODT)
My interpretation of Henderson’s words was that Aly had no right to question Morrison simply because he was the Prime Minister and he should have more respect.
Was Aly supposed to concede that politicians are the citadels of all knowledge?
Aly is an author, journalist, newspaper columnist, radio and television presenter, lawyer, academic, guitarist, songwriter and thinker.
Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia has a BSc (Honour’s) from Sydney University.
Central to Aly’s criticism was the proposition that Scott Morrison had, at a shadow cabinet meeting in 2010 “urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns” about Muslims and appeal to the public perception of their “inability to integrate”
This followed his questioning in the same month after forty-eight asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. In February 2011, Morrison publicly questioned the decision of the Gillard Labor government to pay for the relatives of the victims to travel to funerals in Sydney, arguing that the same privilege was not extended to Australian citizens.
After fellow Liberal and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey disagreed with Morrison’s statements, Morrison said that the timing of his comments was insensitive, but did not back away from the comments themselves.
Scott Morrison said he never told senior colleagues to exploit community concerns about Muslim migration
The Prime Minister accused Waleed Aly of being “very emotional” and “over the top”
Mr Morrison refused to say whether his party should preference One Nation and Fraser Anning last.
Of course, I did delete a certain senior politician’s name from a recent piece that I wrote. Apparently, the PM’s office got all hot and bothered when Waleed Aly suggested in a response to Christchurch something that was widely reported in 2011 and threatened defamation action.
A rather interesting response, given Scott didn’t threaten to react so litigously when it was reported way back in 2011. I guess it was different then. It wasn’t being said by a Muslim.
If politicians had the strength to do what is right, we could make this world a far better place. Instead, we are subjected to lying, mealy mouthed excuses. endless arguments about ridiculous trivialities, and empty egotistical posturing.
We are led by politicians who are more scared of losing an election than of wrongly sending us to war or of the consequences of ignoring climate change.
You aren’t a “strong leader” Scott. You are an empty blowhard on the make who doesn’t have the ability or the courage to solve anything.
Which of the men runs on the amoral belief the” end justifies the means” and pretends he’s a Christian.It isn’t the leader of the ALP that trashe the Hippocratic Oath doctors take as being a threat that turns medical practitioners into activists and a national threat.
Scott Morrison saw how media enabled of community division and fueled the Cronulla Riots in 2005 and he immediately took it to his local branch of the Party and encouraged the use of ethnic and racial division to raise the fear-meter in order to garner votes. While his rejected the Morrison tactic Tony Abbott haf no qualms in holding back and we’ve seen it applied time and time again. Yes it’s back again now in full force. These good Christians family men like Morrison, Corman and Abbott have began calling the Asylum Seekers “Rapists” “Pedophiles” and worse for the simple purpose of garnering desperate votes.
With the help of Ch9 and News Corp and 2GB their PR machines ready to put profit before reality we have seen the campaign of fear hate begin where hope of “political gain ought not justify the immoral means” being applied to asylum seekers as if they were cockroaches by our current LNP government. A legacy encouraged by Scott Morrison as far back as 2005 (ODT)
Labor workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the Prime Minister had chosen to “misrepresent the truth” and “lie to the Australian people” in an attempt to gain political advantage when he should be safeguarding the national interest.
“Most remarkably and outrageously, we’ve seen him announce the opening of Christmas Island. Well if this wasn’t the biggest advertisement to people smugglers, I don’t know what is,” he said.
“To open up a taxpayer funded motel in Christmas Island to basically advertise to people smugglers in the region that indeed business is back – that is a desperate act.”
Former prime minister Tony Abbott said the Labor rules would mean people could “get on a boat, get to Nauru, get sick and get to Australia” – making no mention of the fact the new law did not apply to new boat arrivals.
Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus said Mr Morrison had chosen to “endorse lies”.
Here is the direct voice of Trump, the sentiments of Tony Abbott and a “reported” leak to distance themselves from what would otherwise seem Liberal lack of compassion. Abbott the Catholic and ex- trainee priest showed his by pouring shit on Medicine’s Hippocratic Oath. It’s too compassionate for Team Australia (ODT)
through the week, there was the leak of ASIO briefings that reportedly suggested that not only would the amendments let murderers, paedophiles and rapists into the country, but they would lead to the collapse of the border protection regime, (how Trump is that?ODT)
Implicit in the message has been the idea that the so-called Phelps bill is just a phony construct to get everyone out of offshore detention because doctors had too much “compassion”, as former prime minister Tony Abbott warned. ( Catholic and ex trainee priest ODT)
It is distressing for many of us having to deal with the anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant propaganda striking us in social media, and in the corporate press, particularly the Murdoch-controlled media.
That a section of our political leadership joins in these attacks is also a cause of distress.
The fact that the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in Liberal Party talks in 2011, urged the shadow cabinet to use the growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate as part of its election strategy, still worries our community.
While this is not yet the dominant picture in this country, the example of the Trump Administration and the Brexit campaign in the UK indicate what could be the result.
Although these outdated and disproven racist theories have been expelled from scientific discourse, they still raise their heads in political discourse and amongst the less literate of the public.
I’m more confused about things like their recent thought bubble on moving the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Various bodies have suggested that this may lead to protests and possibly even violence. Now, it would be far too conspiratorial to suggest that Scott is actually hoping to provoke a terrorist attack in the hope that it would give him a boost in the polls. As if he’d be prepared to do whatever it took to get re-elected; he’d only do whatever it takes to stop children being brought here for medical treatment. No, I find this confusing because – apart from Trump’s US – no other country seems to be doing this. Clearly, it’s putting our free trade agreement with Indonesia at risk, and we can’t take the lead with any action that puts our economic growth at risk when the future of the planet is at stake, but somehow we can go out on a limb about the location of an embassy. We can follow Trump, but tell the Indonesians that we don’t let other countries set our foreign policy.
An Australian war hero “ignored” by Peter Dutton for years says he’s disgusted the Home Affairs Minister personally intervened to stop a French au pair from being deported.
The Liberals were right. There’s no need for a banking Royal Commission. It’s just fostering ill will and leading to a lot of complaints from people. Ok, not perhaps, the dead clients that the Commonwealth Bank continued to charge for advice even though they knew that they’d died. Let’s be real here, people. Dead people aren’t in the best position to make their own decisions so they probably needed the advice more than anyone. I have it from a source that in many cases the advice was: “You should stop paying me now that you’re dead.” Not one of these dead clients are complaining that the advice was wrong, even if it wasn’t heeded.
Does the Treasurer really think the public is so dim?
From guest columnist Scott Morrison
Enough is enough. For too long, middle aged, straight white men like me have not had a voice. Around the country, we have been sidelined, marginalised, laughed at and abused. It’s time to take a stand.
We hear so much about other groups of society. But show me a position of power in this country that’s occupied by one of my people – someone who looks like me.
Take, for instance, our parliament. Ok, bad example. Consider instead then our business leaders. Ok, but you know what I mean.
I’m sick of the bigotry and the abuse. I’m sick of doors being shut in my face. I’m tired of opportunities that are given to others, taken from me, just because of who I am. Just because of the way I look. Just because I’m attracted to members of the opposite sex.
It’s high time that we had a say in how this country is run. It’s high time we had some input into how the nation’s finances were spent. It’s time doors were opened for us as well as other Australians. It’s time our voice was heard. Just for once.
The latest national accounts figures for the December quarter, as boring as they may be to some, caused the Treasurer, Scott Morrison to be upbeat about the direction the Australian economy is heading. He is being premature. Trying to gloss over a disturbing trend by remarking on how much better we are performing above the…
Scott Morrison is a formidable politician, a leading contender to replace Tony Abbott, and perhaps the anointed successor to Malcolm Turnbull. But Treasury is hardly an easy stepping-stone to the Lodge. Of the 38 treasurers before Morrison, only six went on to be prime minister.
Any unwanted economic indicators trying to reach Australian shores will be locked up on a small island and never spoken about again, the new Treasurer has revealed.
Making clear he would not comment on operational matters, new Treasurer Scott Morrison said, “If there’s a problem with our economy you certainly won’t be hearing about it from me”.
When asked where the debt levels were currently at, Mr Morrison said, “on a boat to Manus Island”.
Mr Morrison was then asked what the unemployment rate was, to which he replied “it’s the number of people over 15 who are actively looking for work, as a percentage of the total workforce”.
The right-wing media’s calls to end birthright citizenship — a constitutional guarantee — have been repeated incessantly over the years and have once again found a sympathetic ear in Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who recently re-introduced legislation that would supposedly “prevent children born in the U.S. of foreign national parents from gaining automatic U.S. citizenship.”
Conservative media figures going back to Glenn Beck in his Fox News days have railed against so-called “anchor babies” and “birth tourism,” the former a derogatory slur and debunked myth used against U.S. born children of non-citizens, the latter of which represents a sliver of births that experts have repeatedly pointed out are “extraordinarily rare” and an insignificant immigration problem. As Salon’s Simon Maloy recently wrote, this “grossly nativist and legally dubious” rhetoric has nevertheless found a receptive audience in Republican legislators on both the state and federal levels.
At the same time, right-wing media continue their drumbeat on this issue, most prominently ABC contributor and talk radio host Laura Ingraham, who has called ending the constitutional guarantee of citizenship at birth a “common sense step.” This is nothing new for Ingraham, a self-proclaimed influence on Republican politics who has repeatedly condemned “birthright citizenship nonsense.”
On the March 10 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly joined the chorus when he heard that children born in the U.S. automatically receive citizenship — “the baby gets the passport” — and declared, “That law’s got to change.” In the segment, which focused on “birth tourism” by Chinese parents, O’Reilly concluded, “This law is being abused like crazy. It’s got to be changed. That should not be a hard thing to do.”
In fact, that would be an extremely hard thing to do — it would require amending the U.S. Constitution or overturning centuries of post-Civil War Supreme Court precedent.
O’Reilly and his guests — Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor, and contributor Lis Wiehl, also a lawyer — ignored the fact that it’s not merely a “law” that confers citizenship to children born in the United States — it’s the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That amendment, intended to ensure equal protection for all in the wake of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, unequivocally states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States … are citizens of the United States.” This amendment has long been understood to grant birthright citizenship, and that interpretation has been re-affirmed by the Supreme Court since as far back as 1898. James C. Ho, the former solicitor general of Texas, explained in 2011 that birthright citizenship was intended “to reverse the Supreme Court’s notorious 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling denying citizenship to slaves” and their children, and challenging its legality is “wasting taxpayer funds on a losing court battle, reopening the scars of the Civil War, and offending our Constitution and the rule of law.”
But conservative media’s radical calls for the end of birthright citizenship continue to make headway with Republicans in Congress.
On March 10, Vitter re-introduced his Birthright Citizenship Act, which would “close a loophole by clarifying that birthright citizenship is only given to the children of U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens.” In announcing this legislation, Vitter claimed that allowing birthright citizenship is based on “a fundamental misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment,” suggesting that the framers of the amendment, the Supreme Court, and legal experts have been wrong about its plain language for the last 150 years.
An alternate explanation for Vitter’s legislation — other than pure confusion — is that this is intended to be unconstitutional and represents a “test case” expected to be repeatedly struck down in the federal courts on the way to the Supreme Court. Although GOP senators have shied away from acknowledging this, right-wing anti-immigration activists like Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach have plainly admitted as much.
Right-wing media is not quite so honest in its calls to rewrite the U.S. Constitution, choosing instead to baselessly scaremonger about “anchor babies” and “birth tourism.
As the 2014 gubernatorial race starts to heat up, a bill is working its way through the Florida legislature that would make it a felony offense to earn less than $25,000.00 per year. The bill will also place those with minority racial status on probation.
In 2011, Florida effectively disenfranchised 1.5 million citizens with a new restrictive voting law. The law prohibits anyone ever convicted of a felony from voting in local, state or federal elections. Commenting on the situation, Governor Rick Scott stated “We really got on the right track in 2011, and this new bill should put us over the top.” When asked what he meant, Scott replied “Well, we certainly don’t want to risk uncertainty in the election process by allowing criminals to vote, and since most crime is committed by the poor and minorities, this new law just takes the next logical step. The bill will prevent undesirables from participating in the election process.”
One of the chief sponsors of the bill, Representative Billy Bob McSneed, a Republican from Panama City, stated “All these minorities, many of them illegal, are taking our jobs and threatening our way of life down here. By placing them on probation, we can better control ‘em and stop all the election fraud. Hell, it’s bad enough that we let ‘em drive.”
Election fraud in Florida has reached enormous proportions in Florida over the last decade, according to the Florida Republican Central Committee. McSneed supplied us with documents proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that there have been at least three dozen cases of individuals voting illegally in Florida over the last ten years.
“We live in state where 36 votes could tip the balance, McSneed said. The only logical thing to do is attack the root of the disease, not the symptoms, and the root of the disease is poor people, minorities, and poor minorities.”
When asked how many citizens of the state that this bill would disenfranchise, Governor Scott replied, “We have no idea, but the vast majority of them will be Democrats, and that’s all that matters.”
Challenges to the new bill’s constitutionality will no doubt be numerous. However, given the current glut of challenges in Florida’s courts challenging other demented laws passed by the legislature, any decision will be slow in coming and probably will occur post-election.
Reached for comment was Representative Barbara Hernandez, Democrat from Miami. She stated, “I am currently trying to decide whether to hang myself or move to a more open society. Maybe Cuba or North Korea.”
SS Minister Scott Morrison
One of the last despotic acts of former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was to threaten to revoke the power of Moreland City Council Mayor, Meghan Hopper, to perform citizenship ceremonies unless she agreed to read out his ministerial message during the ceremonies.
Moreland Council has a policy of welcoming refugees into the shire.
Ms Hopper stated: “I do not feel comfortable acting as a spokesperson when it comes to personal messages from the minister. I feel that the reading of a message from the minister in fact politicises what should be an apolitical occasion, as does threatening to remove Moreland’s ability to confer citizenship.”
The Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code states: Citizenship ceremonies are non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular.They must not be used as forums for political, partisan or religious expression or for the distribution of material which could be perceived to be of a commercial, political or religious nature.
The Sydney Morning Herald article notes: According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the reading of the minister’s message is not compulsory under legislation.
Despite that, Mr Morrison said in his letter to Ms Hopper that it was his “prerogative” that the message be read aloud, as it is an “integral part of the ceremony”.
As part of his response, Mr Morrison included a one-page “letter of agreement” for Ms Hopper to sign, stating that she will include the message as part of Moreland’s ceremony.
“If you fail to comply with this request by January 10 2015, I will withdraw your authority, and that of the deputy mayor and general manager, to preside at Australian citizenship ceremonies,” he said in the letter.
It is difficult to see this behaviour by Morrison as anything more than petty revenge against a Mayor and council who oppose the Abbott government’s refugee policies.
No one should be surprised at Morrison’s efforts at petty revenge. Such efforts are the hallmark of a government that has spent the majority of its time so far in office deliberately trashing previous ALP policies for no reason other than that they were ALP policies.
There is no legislation that requires any official performing citizenship ceremonies to read out a ministerial message. Regardless of the law, Morrison employed intimidatory bullying tactics to demand his speech be read in the future. This is, he claims, his “prerogative.” Note that legislation is irrelevant to this minister of the crown. What counts here is his personal “prerogative.”
As Morrison is now Minister for Social Services we can expect an ongoing disregard for legislation, and a lot more bullying on the grounds of his personal prerogatives.
A minister of the crown must uphold legislation or seek to change it. Deliberately ignoring legislation and instead attempting to impose one’s personal prerogative over and above it, is not acceptable ministerial behaviour. Ministers of the crown have a particular responsibility to respect our laws.
Morrison’s former department, when seeking extended powers for him, argued thus: The DIBA submission to a Senate committee argues that an elected member of parliament and minister of the Crown has gained a particular insight into the community’s standards and values.
The rest of us are expected to observe the laws that govern community standards and values. If an elected member of parliament and minister of the crown so conspicuously fails to do this, and instead threatens and bullies others on the sole grounds of his personal prerogative, we do not have a democratic government, we have a burgeoning dictatorship.
If you think the government was taking us towards social and economic disasters prior to the recent Cabinet reshuffle, well you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, writes Ricky Pann.
The new threat to Australia is not the boat people nor the terrorists, it’s now the unemployed and those on welfare.
Scott Morrison is ferociously ambitious and a Liberal insider told me just after his rather dirty campaign for pre-selection in Cook that he has aspirations for the top job. Like Abbott, he is combatant and will say or do anything to win. This they have in common.
Tony Abbott has been scraping the bottom of the boat over the weekend and Scott Morrison has managed to land himself as the head of Social Security (ironically the SS).
So now Scott “where the bloody hell are ya” can treat the unemployed and disadvantaged with the same ‘take no prisoners’ contempt with which he treated refugees. In a recent presser he gloated that he intends to get as many people “off welfare” as he can and in light of the Abbott Government’s policies driving unemployment up; that should be an extraordinarily heinous feat that may have dire social consequences.
Kevin “onward Christian soldiers” Andrews, neanwhile, moves to defence as he is obviously not hard enough for ideologies dirty job. I am no longer surprised at all by Abbott so I predict a series of undisclosed ideological agendas will be “tried on” with Morrison at the helm.
These may include:
- The Green Army as a dumping ground for people that cannot find suitable employment (work 4 the dole).
- Food stamps and income management.
- Tightening of the qualification for the Disability Support Pension and government health checks.
- Drug and Alcohol testing.
- Privatisation of services provided by Centrelink.
- Tightening of provisions and mandatory obligatory requirements for Welfare recipients.
- Demonisation of welfare as a social disease.
Expect a wide backlash against the idea of these measures as Morrison, like Abbott, is about as popular in electorate polling as root canal therapy. The fight will be fought in the Senate.
There is an elitist belief deeply entrenched in this government’s socially disconnected ideology, that people on welfare should work in menial jobs as part of their social contract. Ironically this government has abandoned any sense of social responsibility to the point of disenfranchising the very people they courted before the election. The list of lies and dishonesty is becoming quite ridiculous as the gloss of “I’m a changed man” washes off in a shower of insincerity to reveal two ironically sobering points:
- The electorate was sold a PUP (literally) as the hollow promise of “not dealing with minor parties” becomes the only filter to sanity ironically making people like Jaquie Lambie (with .09% of the vote) powerful players in the last line of social equality’s defence.
- The facile promise of Abbott stating he “would not say one thing and do another” is prevalent in the tsunami of undisclosed agendas and broken promises directly contradicting what was sold during the election campaign.
Quite simply, Tony Abbott personifies everything he said he would not be before the election. Abbott went into the election with no plan other than to say anything to win with a range of undisclosed agendas and social engineering masquerading as prudent conservative fiscal stewardship. Some fourteen months in, the runs are not on the board nor is the plan working. People are starting to use the “R” word and public confidence in Hockey’s ability is scathing across the political divide:
- Commodities are tanking (coal, ore, gas and oil).
- Expenditure is up.
- Tax receipts are down.
- The Australian dollar is weakening.
- Unemployment is up.
- Spending and consumer confidence is down.
- The big ticket items like the repeal of the carbon tax or the MRT have done nothing.
- The planned surplus promises were a lie and not attainable.
- Inflation is steady, but easing up.
This government is arrogant and is simply not listening to the electorate. It will do so at its own peril. Abbott has always been doggedly combatant and non-conciliatory. He prefers to tough it out to grim death and apologise insincerely as a last resort on every point. He feels he has to win no matter what with no compromise. That may be fine in opposition but in government its politically suicidal. Strong leadership comes from governing for the whole electorate which is something that Abbott has not learned. Tony Abbott unscripted is awkward and stilted which is reflected in his popularly approval rating. People just don’t like him, especially the Liberal voters he has abandoned in a wave of tea party fervour.
The problem with socially disconnected elitism is you become delusionary, preferring to live in your own version of truth. This government has been extremely divisive, preferring to have a “for or against” mentality. They honestly believe that government is a mandate to do whatever they like, disclosed or not, wanted or not, necessary or not. They have waged an ideological battle with no logical outcome other than proving a point irrespective of the social cost.
It is core to their thinking that they are above criticism, which is a sign of radicalisation. They have hijacked and shifted the middle ground of centrist conservatism to the extreme right polarising the bipartisan middle ground. Moving the gold posts of where conservative starts so it is indistinguishable from radicalism. Of course this is another illusionary lie. Abbott’s front bench team is made up of mostly people who have always been radical ideologues pretending to be conservative.
Character assassination is prevalent in their tactic. Anyone that disagrees in the fiercely partisan ideology wars is a “Lefty” – the new “Commo”. This too has seeped into the mainstream where the term “Lefty” or “leftist” seems to be a common insult for anyone that questions the simplicity of complex issues reduced to sloganism in the Abbot meme so popularised by the far-right opinion writers of the Murdoch press.
Meanwhile, Hockey still thinks his budget is fair and he is doing a great job. Or at least he has been fearlessly trying to sell it that way. The numbers don’t add up; just like the social fall out. The hastily shallow government waste justification process epitomised by the productivity commission wreaks of a government that talks up empathy but does not understand its meaning. Ironically they castigated the last government for wastage then hold a commission into waste while wasting money themselves. Every aspects of policy direction for this government is rhetorically heavy and substance light. No wonder Hockey can’t find any money!
Lobbyists run the modern Liberal Party and as donors they have shopping lists with an expected a dividend.
Instead of looking at taxation equality, minimalisation, and corporate welfare and a multitude of corporate lurks they prefer to privatise and cut the services of working, tax-paying voters rather than alienate the money of corporate interest that helped them get elected. A neoconservative religious factional block controls the modern Liberal Party which has also arrogantly stopped listening to its own members – much like the divide in modern Labor. The modern Liberal Party has abandoned the ethos of conservative liberalism in favour of radicalism of the neoconservative religious tea party movement of the USA. Factional and special interest cronyism is a modern condition that is a big problem for both major Australian parties. This culture is detaching the major parties from the relevance of core constituency in favour of corporate interest run by socially disconnected elitists who have the numbers circumventing local rank and file into irrelevance.
The Abbott Government has lost its way. It’s lazy, divisive, vindictive, lacks vision and is devoid of ideas. It’s simply out of touch. It’s all the things it said it would not be, ironically. They choose to blame everyone but themselves and one must ask, “who is left to blame?”
When Tony Abbott was asked this week what was his greatest achievement as Minister for Woman’s he gleefully stated “repealing the carbon tax”. This in itself is a glaringly obvious indication that Tony Abbott just doesn’t get it, and he does not listen.
The Revelation is nigh, comrades.
The cost of a foreign affair is set to increase by several thousand dollars.
Australians who fall in love with or marry a foreigner will have to pay 50 per cent more for partner visa application fees.
The move was announced in the mid-year budget review on Monday and will raise $373.6 million in revenue over four years.
The price rise will come into force from January 1, 2015.
Meanwhile, plans to increase Australia’s refugee intake starting in 2017-18 will cost $140 million over two years.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison previously said the move would be fully funded from offsets within his portfolio.
There will be an extra 2500 places in the humanitarian program in 2017-18 and 5000 the following year with a total of 18,750 spots that year.
The revival of temporary protection visas and introduction of safe haven enterprise visas come with a price tag of $52.9 million this financial year and $340 million over the next three years.
Nearly $32 million has been added to border protection operations with the purchase of the Ocean Shield vessel two years early.
The Triton ship will be leased for an extra six months until June 2015.
The government has also pulled $96.5 million over two years from building a transit centre in Port Moresby Papua New Guinea to accommodate asylum seekers whose refugee claims have been rejected and are awaiting removal.
Instead they will stay in the Manus Island detention centre until they are repatriated.
PARTNER VISA CHARGES
* Provisional and permanent partner visas – currently $3085 increased to $4627.50
* Prospective marriage visa – currently $3085 increased to $4627.50
* Temporary and permanent partner visas – currently $4575 increased $6865.50
(Source: Immigration Department)
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, is the only minister who is not answerable to anyone for his decisions, with the exception of the decision to take us into war, which can be made by the Prime Minister alone.
New legislation passed this week gives Morrison unprecedented, unchallengeable and secret powers to determine the futures of those who come to Australia seeking sanctuary from homelands that are no longer hospitable to them. This includes the practice of refoulement, the ability to return asylum seekers to situations that are hostile and in some instances deadly without first determining if they are at risk, a practice that is inconsistent with international refugee law: Section 197 gives the government express permission to engage in refoulement irrespective of whether there has been an assessment of Australian obligations to that person.
Morrison is not required to determine in advance what risks an asylum seeker will face in being returned to the country they’ve fled, therefore, he has the power to send human beings to endure torture and death, and nobody will ever know he’s done it.
Within his area of responsibilities, Morrison is now a dictator. In the midst of a government determined to be as small a government as possible there is a department with a dictator at its head, whose control over some human beings is absolute.
In principle giving any politician, or any human being for that matter absolute power over anything, cannot be good. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Why is it necessary?
Of course, it isn’t necessary in any way other than the political. It serves the government’s purposes to cloak the fates of asylum seekers and refugees in secrecy. It doe not make our borders any more secure, it does not prevent us from being attacked by terrorists. What Morrison’s new dictatorship does do is fly in the face of the tenets of our liberal democracy, specifically its opposition to suspicion of concentrated forms of power, whether by individuals, groups or governments.
There is no reason why the people of this country should be kept in the dark about our government’s decisions as to the fate of asylum seekers and refugees, or any other decision our government takes, unless it is a matter of security. No matter how hard the Abbott government has worked to frame waterborne asylums seekers as a threat to our sovereign borders against which we are waging a war, they are not a threat and this is not a war.
The passing of the latest legislation finalises the relentless campaign conducted by both major parties to “stop the boats.” It has taken the matter of asylum seekers arriving by boat out of the public conversation. While this will come as relief to many politicians, the rest of us should be very afraid that in our treasured liberal democracy we have a minister who answers to nobody, and will conduct his nefarious business in absolute secrecy. This cannot be good for anyone.
First published on Jennifer’s blog No Place for Sheep
In a lifelong experience of following politics I have, until now, never witnessed children being horse traded, and senators being blackmailed, for the passing of legislation. In this case to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visas.
It looks as though Immigration Minister Scott Morrison (and the senators) have taken the yes side on the ageless Christian ethical dilemma “Does the end justify the means”.
It is a fascination to me as to why people assume that religion has some form of monopoly on morality. And even worse, they pretend to speak on Gods behalf in dispensing it.
“I will not take moral lectures from Bill Shorten or Sarah Hanson-Young when it comes to border protection on that or any other issues,’’
“So this is a win for Australia, it’s also a win for humanitarian values, it’s a win for human decency’’
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
We are all wired for decency and conscience with or without religion. Some understand it better than others illustrated by either what we do or don’t do. By our mercy and compassion or deficiency in it.
Morrison like many of the Cabinet are serious practicing Christians who interpret God’s word to fit snugly with their political ideology. They easily accommodate policy with their own definition of scripture, justifying their immorality to themselves. An evil in itself.
As someone who spent many years in a church environment similar to Morrison s (now an open-minded atheist) I can assure the reader that there are many who think like Morrison. They worship their politics and religion without demarcation. In doing so they believe that telling the truth isn’t necessarily in their best interests.
This government seems intent on imposing its own particular form of Christianity on an unsuspecting population. And I might add, one that is completely at odds with current Papal uttering on social inequality.
The decision to sack highly credentialed social workers, doing excellent work in high schools and replace them with accredited Chaplains is outrageous.
And now it seems that taxpayer funds are to be used to fund the training of Priests in religious institutions.
What ever happened to the secular society?
The fools that frequent the senate.
The inexperienced cross-bench senators buckled into the ransom dangled before their collective conscience and awarded the executive the power to ‘’play God ‘’ with the lives of those seeking safety from this supposed Christian nation.
In all fairness it could not have been an easy decision.
Senator Muir, said he was:
“Forced into a corner to decide between a bad decision and a worse decision, a position I do not wish on my worst enemies”.
Maybe the Palmer United Party senators felt the same.
It has also been reported that Morrison’s department had children on Christmas Island phone Muir and beg their freedom even giving them the phones to do so. Now that’s something straight out of the “classic hostage situation” handbook. That’s what terrorists do with hostages.
So, with the passing of this Bill what have we ended up with?
Crikey put it this way, calling it an immoral disgrace:
“At 8.06 this morning it was done: the House of Representatives passed the government’s Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014, following its passage and amendment just after midnight in the Senate. Parliamentarians then got to go home for Christmas, having delivered the Immigration Minister extraordinary powers that in effect obliterate any further pretence that Australia regards asylum seekers as human beings.
The bill restored the failed Howard-era policy of temporary protection visas, a mechanism that actually increased boat arrivals when last attempted. Whether Clive Palmer seriously believes that there is a pathway to citizenship contained in a kind of homeopathic form within the legislation — or it merely suits its purposes to pretend there is — we don’t know, but Scott Morrison has been crystal clear that TPVs will never provide permanent protection.
But the bill goes much further, freeing Australia from any obligations associated with the Refugee Convention, including giving Morrison and his department — which has repeatedly demonstrated it is profoundly incompetent and resistant to the most basic forms of accountability — the power to return people to torture and persecution without judicial review.”
On the one hand cross bench senators like Ricky Muir, Nick Xenophon might argue that the end does indeed justify the means. After all there will be many freed from their dreadful incarceration and the migrant intake has been increased. But did they consider that Morrison already held powers to resolve these issues, to release people. Especially children. His threat was that unless they passed his legislation they could rot in hell.
They could have called his bluff.
Their pretentious anguish at having to deal with such a choice can’t hide the grim reality of their actions.
Greg Barnes (a spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance and barrister) put this way:
“But in passing this legislation Senator Muir and his colleagues have done what many would think is unconscionable in a society that supposedly subscribes to the rule of law – allow the executive to “play God” with the lives of those in our world who want to put their case for asylum to a rich, developed world country with ample capacity to take them.”
Morrison is now effectively above the High Court and our conformity to the International Convention on Refugees has been written out of our law.
The bill, in all probability is the most immoral ever passed by an Australian Parliament.
Not only that, it is also bad policy. It says much about the leaders of this country and their shameful misrepresentation of the faith they profess to follow.
No matter in what sphere of government policy (immigration, health, pensioners, education etc) one looks, you find the hand of Abbott’s hate on those who refuse to join Team Australia.
He seeks to reward those who follow and punish those who don’t. In the past week much has been written about the horrendous failings of his government.
A lot has centered on Abbott’s credentials as a leader. Therein lies the fundamental problem. For those of us who have followed his career closely, it’s easy. He has none.
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Now that Scott Morrison’s extraordinary refugee amendments have passed, it’s clear that his humanitarian concern for drowned refugees is really a lie
he federal election campaign of 2013 was the first time in our political history that both major parties explicitly campaigned on a promise to be cruel to asylum seekers. They promised to treat asylum seekers so harshly that others would be deterred from seeking our help.
Since the election, we have witnessed our treatment of asylum seekers increase in brutality. This has been done, in large part, by Scott Morrison repeatedly referring to boat people as “illegal arrivals”. It is the great lie on which his campaign of cruelty is based. It ignores article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” It ignores the fact that it is not an offence to come here, without papers, without an invitation, seeking asylum.
It is based on an alleged (but not genuine) concern about people drowning in their attempt to reach safety. When Morrison and Tony Abbott express a humanitarian concern about boat people drowning, they are lying. Their stance demonstrates a complete lack of concern for the lives of persecuted people who are unable to escape.
While it is undoubtedly tragic that people drown trying to escape persecution, if they do not escape, and are killed by their persecutors, they are just as dead as if they had drowned. For those unable to seek protection, Abbott and Morrison show no concern whatever; the argument is over.
I do not believe Abbott and Morrison have any genuine humanitarian concern about asylum seekers. They say they have stopped the boats. That is largely true; with a couple of exceptions, boats have stopped arriving. But we know they have not stopped setting out from Indonesia. We have been pushing them back. We are not allowed to know how many have drowned on those boats. It is an “on-water matter”, and so remains a secret.
Boat people who have managed to get here without drowning are treated with unparalleled harshness. They are treated as subhumans, in needlessly dreadful conditions in Nauru and Manus Island. Reza Barati was killed in the Manus Island detention centre by the people responsible for him; two guards have been charged with murder. Hamid Kehazaei died of septicaemia after cutting his foot in Manus Island, because the medical care for asylum seekers in detention centres run by Australia is hopelessly compromised.
Let us face the plain facts: innocent men, women and children are suffering terribly in detention centres, and their suffering is the intended result of Australia’s policy. As a nation, Australia is responsible for the misery and harm deliberately inflicted on boat people by our government.
Morrison bulldozed his refugee amendments through the Senate late last week, giving him unprecedented power. He said would remove children from detention if the Senate passed his amendments, but he already had the power to do so. His strategy, in any other context, would be the conduct of a kidnapper: “I will release the children, but only if you do what I demand.”
Under Morrison’s amendments, the principle of natural justice is removed, the supervisory role of the courts is removed, references to the convention in the migration act are removed. The minister now has the power to send a person to any country he chooses, even if that may involve a breach of our international obligations.
In the aftermath of the second world war, when the Nazi concentration camps were opened, the world drew breath in horror at what had happened. The great international human rights instruments – the UN refugee convention among them – were created. Most civilised nations resolved that such a horror should never happen again.
The point of the convention was to share the load of people fleeing persecution. Before the convention, countries adjacent to trouble spots bore the main burden of refugee movement. During the years leading up to the second world war, many Jews had tried to escape persecution. Notoriously, many countries turned them away. They tried all manner of desperate measures to get to safety.
Countries which have signed the convention are obliged to consider whether a person is a refugee if they claim to be before they may send that person back to the place they came from. Otherwise they may breach their “non-refoulement” obligation.
For Australia, this is significant. For nearly all boat people, Australia is the first country they reach which has signed the convention. Importantly, Malaysia and Indonesia have not signed it, and do not offer protection.
Under Morrison’s amendments, Australia will almost certainly breach its non-refoulement obligations. Under Morrison’s amendments, Australia appears to have abandoned its commitment to the convention, without actually withdrawing from it.
This Christmas, Abbott and Morrison are no doubt celebrating their policy “success”. These two men – supposedly devout Christians – have used deliberate cruelty to harm innocent people, including hundreds of children, and have turned their backs on the lessons of the Holocaust. It is no cause for celebration.
Under law no statement or contract can be upheld if it was made under threat or duress. Likewise no Senator’s decision can be upheld if it was made under those circumstances.
In view of reports that those children are NOT being released but moved to Darwin and fast tracked out of Australia then Ricky Muir’s vote is surely null and void.
It is likewise unlawful for Morrison to use coercion in using the children as blackmail and holding the Senate hostage.
What did you think Muir? That all those kids would wake up on Christmas morning in Australian foster homes?????
You have signed their death warrants.
Unsign it. Now.
Bombard Muir’s office with demands that he does and now.
Aside from that we hereby seek:
An immediate High Court injunction to the Bill or, if it has not received Royal Assent, that the Governor General NOT sign it.
Clarification of the fate of the children. Are these the children that were subject to the earlier injunction? If so, does this Bill violate that injunction?
Where will these children be sent? Darwin? If so, why?
For using children as Blackmail and exercising considerable coercion on the Senate unlawfully we request the Governor General to terminate Scott
When a white Culture overlay has little or no empathy for indigenous cultural psychology. When a white cultural ego dominates a landscape of human emotions. Little recognition is given to minorities completely flattened by the impact of constant dominance and being at crossroads leaves nothing any longer taken for granted. Crossroads give birth to individual uncertainties in youth that can create existential despair and death welcoming.
Strange how politically useful politicians and the media find it to create that sense of emergency about terrorism , economic emergency, to create false realities for political ends. But how those same governments in doing so can totally ignore the real feelings of our indigenous and other minorities it’s citizens particularly their non voting youth and then simply write them off as if it’s their own cultural and psychological inadequacies.
It’s a case of who do you believe? I suggest the people who advocate there was nothing here but bush before the British arrived are profound liars. They appropriated or discarded everything that went before them and have created the myths that have dominated our psyches since but find hard to eradicate. The ghosts that remain and haunt not all of us but those at the crossroads particularly the youth of minority cultures the indigenous kids, the migrant kids that are told they should move on forget and assimilate to be worthwhile.The kids born of poverty sold a promise of equal opportunity who blame themselves when they realize the unachievable outcomes.
Have a look at this face we don’t need Scott Morrison to to feel globally ashamed. We’ve been towing back the boats of indigenous Australia since our arrival and blaming their their drownings on people smugglers we call their Culture.
Lookin Philinka’s eyes she’s better than you Bolt, Morrison, Abbott purveyors of the myth of hate for little more than cultural elite ego, and profit. I can’t speak from the personal experience suffered but I can empathize with the general condition you maintain. I can ask you Christian bastards to listen to all our Australian citizens black white or brindle on behalf our common humanity .
This one’s got to hurt.
And for those saying it can’t be, here are some quotes from Mein Kampf:
“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
“Thank the Lord, Germanic democracy means just this: that any old climber or moral slacker cannot rise by devious paths to govern his national comrades, but that, by the very greatness of the responsibility to be assumed, incompetents and weaklings are frightened of.”
“The unprecedented rise of the Christian Social Party… was to assume the deepest significance for me as a classical object of study.”
“Even less could I understand how the Christian Social Party at this same period could achieve such immense power. At that time it had just reached the apogee of its glory.”
“As long as leadership from above was not lacking, the people fulfilled their duty and obligation overwhelmingly. Whether Protestant pastor or Catholic priest, both together and particularly at the first flare, there really existed in both camps but a single holy German Reich, for whose existence and future each man turned to his own heaven.”
Certainly sounds like a conservative Christian to me, regardless of his later relationship with the church
Also sounds like he had messiah complex. Says a lot really. Abbott and his cronies display very similar symptoms.. Just looks at Morrison!
Last night the Senate narrowly passed the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014. Its passage into law came with very little fanfare; the bill was passed late at night, by which time several hundred of the nation’s top journalists were several drinks into their post-Walkleys celebrations, and it slipped in near to the end of the Parliamentary sitting year, in between MPs wishing each other a Merry Christmas in end-of-year speeches.
That’s unfortunate, because if you had to pick a single piece of legislation that deserves a vigorous examination, it was this one. The new law gives Immigration Minister Scott Morrison unheard-of powers over the fates of asylum seekers and refugees, allowing him to turn back boats with impunity, return asylum seekers to their home countries even if they face torture, and removes all references to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the defining document for nation-states dealing with refugees which Australia helped write, from Australian law. With regards to asylum seekers and refugees, Australia now effectively operates entirely outside international law.
I’ll leave the broader ramifications of what this bill will mean for asylum seekers, both in detention and those who are turned away in the future, to others; the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, which works to help resettle refugees in the community, said yesterday that Senators voting for the bill would be “condemning children to a life of uncertainty and allowing others to rot in offshore detention”. In an excellent piece for the Guardian, Ben Doherty says the law makes Morrison “the most powerful person in the Australian government”.
What’s really interesting is why most of the crossbench eventually decided to vote for the bill. The prospect of having hundreds of children released of detention seems to have been the deciding factor that secured the support of enough senators to push the bill over the line, and it’s this that needs to come under greater scrutiny.
Kill Them With Kindness: The Crossbench And Scott Morrison
Speaking for the Palmer United Party last night, Senator Glenn Lazarus said: “Australia’s reputation across the world is being damaged. We are being viewed by the world as a country that locks up innocent and defensive children, subjecting them to jail-like conditions without hope, compassion or any sense of a future. The sad truth is that we are a country that locks up defenceless children who have been washed up in our waters, children who have been dragged onto boats as innocent victims by their parents or others at the hands of unscrupulous people smugglers.”
Clearly Lazarus wants to see children out of detention and asylum seekers dealt with in a more compassionate and humane manner than they’ve been subjected to in recent years; Palmer United Party policy says as much. Still, Lazarus and fellow PUP Senator Dio Wang voted to pass the bill, which seems at odds with their policy and personal sentiments — until you learn that in exchange for their support (with several PUP amendments), Morrison promised to release around 1,500 asylum seekers on Christmas Island in time for Christmas, including 460 children. Lazarus explicitly stated in his speech that seeing “the 460 children in detention on Christmas Island, including the 32 unaccompanied children…be removed from Christmas Island by Christmas this year” was a major deciding factor in PUP’s support of the bill.
Thing is, Morrison has had the power to release those people from detention all along; a fact pointed out last night by independent Senator Jacqui Lambie. “First of all, my concern is that this government has now been in for 15 months. These kids have been sitting there for 15 months, and you want a pat on the back? You have got to be kidding,” Lambie said. “These kids could have been out 15 months ago. Secondly, I would like to know whether the good senator over there [Liberal Senator and Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash], if all these kids are not out by Christmas Day, is prepared to put her Senate seat on it and resign”.
Lambie did not end up voting for the bill, but the government found the numbers elsewhere on the crossbench; despite having reservations about granting Scott Morrison more powers, the extremely understandable temptation of releasing kids from detention overrode their concerns. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young described Morrison’s tactics as like using children “as bargaining chips, as pawns in his political play, to get legislation that he wanted through this place which previously had no support in this chamber…Minister Morrison is a sociopath who has held children as hostages in order to grab the power he wants in this place tonight”.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place: Senator Ricky Muir
As the deadline on the vote loomed, it became apparent that the bill’s chances of success came down entirely to Australian Motoring Party Enthusiast Senator Ricky Muir; with Labor, the Greens and independent Senator John Madigan all opposing it, and the Palmer United Party senators announcing their intention to vote for the bill yesterday afternoon, Muir held the one vote that would either pass or sink the bill.
Muir gave a heartfelt and at times emotional speech in the Senate last night, outlining his desire to see children freed from detention and saying that “coming to a decision on this bill has been, without a doubt, one of the hardest decisions I have had to face”.
Muir expressed serious reservations about the bill — “in its initial form, I could not vote for this bill. What the government is proposing is not ideal. There are parts of the bill that I am not comfortable with” — but said he would support it because “the government has said that, if this bill does not pass, the 30,000 people currently awaiting processing will continue to be left in limbo. The government has said that, if this bill does not pass, the 1,550 people who arrived between 19 July 2013 and the election would be sent to Nauru. The minister has said that, if this bill does not pass, he would be unable to use statutory processes to assess refugee claims and would need to go through an administrative process. He has publicly stated, ‘What it means for those 30,000 people is they will just wait longer and longer and longer.’”
That claim by Morrison is patently untrue; he has always possessed the power to free people from detention, and his not doing so is a personal choice.
Muir went on:
“Tonight I have also spoken with people who have worked closely with detainees on Christmas Island. They told me that this bill is not completely fair, but that the detainees are tired. They told me that the detainees have had enough and that they want out. They are desperate. She told me that they have watched the news and they know it is down to one vote, and that vote is mine.
“While I was speaking to these people and they were informing me, they started to break down and cry as they were speaking about children who have been in detention since they were born who are two years old. They speak about the word ‘out’. To them ‘out’ means going to church on occasion, and that is it. When they hear the word ‘out’, they cannot begin to associate it with freedom.
“They told the people in detention that they rang the office of the man whose decision it was to decide whether they would be out of detention before Christmas. That man wasn’t the Minister for Immigration; it was me. It should not be like this but it is. The crossbench should not have been put in this position, but it has.”
Going by that statement, it seems pretty clear that last night Ricky Muir spoke directly with Christmas Island staff members and case workers by phone, all of whom urged him to pass the government’s bill. If what Muir said is true, those case workers were also relaying messages from asylum seekers, whose mental and emotional states were nearing breaking point, directly to the Senator.
Senator Hanson-Young went a step further, claiming that “children on Christmas Island” were “being handed the phone number of Senator Muir, and they were asked to call that number and beg that senator to let them out”. (Junkee has sent Senators Muir, Lambie and Lazarus a series of questions asking them to clarify whether they spoke to asylum seekers, including children, prior to voting on the bill yesterday. All three Senators are yet to reply.)
It seems as though a large number of crossbench senators genuinely wish to alleviate the suffering of people in detention. It also seems as though the Immigration Minister has exploited that very human impulse in order to garner more power for himself and his department, using the lives and suffering of children in his power as collateral to obtain it. It is a frightening prospect: that a man willing to keep children behind razor wire until they are of use to his political ends has just been granted further power.
The Senate crossbench has supported the passing of broad new migration and maritime powers – but what exactly do they mean for the minister, asylum seekers and Australia’s obligations under international law?
Scott Morrison is now the most powerful person in the Australian government.
The passage of the migration and maritime powers legislation amendment (resolving the asylum legacy caseload) bill 2014 has given the immigration minister, while he holds that job, unprecedented, unchallengeable, and secret powers to control the lives of asylum seekers.
Previous immigration ministers have decried the burden and the caprice of “playing God” with asylum seekers’ lives, but the government has chosen, instead, to install even greater powers in the office of the minister.
With the Senate’s acquiescence, Scott Morrison has won untrammelled power.
No other minister, not the prime minister, not the foreign minister, not the attorney-general, has the same unchecked control over the lives of other people.
With the passage of the new law, the minister can push any asylum seeker boat back into the sea and leave it there.
The minister can block an asylum seeker from ever making a protection claim on the ill-defined grounds of “character” or “national interest”. His reasons can be secret.
He can detain people without charge, or deport them to any country he chooses even if it is known they’ll be tortured there.
Morrison’s decisions cannot be challenged.
Boat arrivals will have no access to the Refugee Review Tribunal.
Instead, they will be classed as “fast track applicants” whose only appeal is to a new agency, the Immigration Assessment Authority, but they will not get a hearing, only a paper review.
“Excluded fast track applicants” will only have access to an internal review by Morrison’s own department.
The bill is a seismic piece of legislation – one that destroys more than it creates.
The government argues the new law will remove the obstructions that exist to it fulfilling its mandate of “stopping the boats”.
asylum seeker boats Australian navy personnel transfer Afghanistan asylum-seekers to a Indonesian rescue boat near West Java. Due to the passing on the amendments, the government is now entitled to return an asylum seeker to a country where they have been, or it is known they will be, tortured. Photograph: AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Critics – and they are a formidable group, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN’s Committee Against Torture and parliament’s own human rights committee – say the bill strips the checks and balances that have always existed in Australia’s immigration system, and removes basic protections for those who arrive seeking asylum.
Australia now regards itself as free from the bonds of the Refugees Convention – a treaty Australia helped write, and willingly signed up to, more than half a century ago. All references to it have been removed from Australian law.
Instead of adhering to the established, internationally-agreed framework for dealing with asylum seekers, Australia will follow a “new, independent and self-contained statutory framework”, that sets out the government’s own interpretation of international law.
That new interpretation is apparent in this bill. Refugee law is built upon the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, which forbids returning a person to their persecutors.
It is exists not only in the Refugees Convention, but in customary law. It is recognised by every country.
Australian law now says: “it is irrelevant whether Australia has non-refoulement obligations in respect of an unlawful non-citizen”.
Stripped of the legalese, that paragraph says Australia is now entitled to return an asylum seeker to a country where they have been, or it is known they will be, tortured.
Overwhelmingly, the public focus of the legislation, and the sharp end of Senate negotiations, has been around temporary protection visas (TPVs), though they form only a small part of the bill.
TPVs have been trialled in Australia before and failed. Between 1999 and 2007 (when they were abandoned) Australia granted 11,206 TPVs. And 95% of those visa holders were ultimately granted permanent protection.
The number of boat arrivals to Australia increased after the introduction of TPVs, and more of those arrivals were women and children. (Because the TPVs forbade family reunion, entire families climbed onto boats, or women and children came to meet men already in the country.)
In the Senate horse-trading, significant concessions have been won.
Morrison has been forced to capitulate on his most fundamental commitment – the pathway to permanence – but it is a concession in principle, and name only.
In amendments to the legislation, the government has opened up the possibility – though it appears an exceedingly remote likelihood – of a temporary protection visa progressing to a permanent visa in Australia.
On November 25, Morrison said: “There’s no way I will lift the bar to give someone a permanent visa. We gave an absolute commitment on that and I’m not going to send a message … that permanent visas are on offer in Australia again for people who have arrived illegally by boat.”
This week he said, “at the end of a Special Humanitarian Enterprise Visa people can apply for visas which include permanent visas”.
The door has been opened, if only a sliver, to the possibility of a permanent visa to stay in Australia for someone who arrived by boat. But it is an unlikely reality for anyone, Morrison has said.
While anxious to keep the “sugar off the table” for asylum seekers, Morrison has offered the Senate crossbench a series of sweeteners in exchange for their votes this week.
He has promised to soften the cuts to Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake.
The government had planned to cut the number of offshore refugees resettled by Australia from 20,000 to 13,750. The new intake will be 18,750 over the next four years.
Asylum seekers will be moved off Christmas Island to the mainland of Australia while their claims are processed. Up to 468 children will be released from detention.
And about 25,000 people currently living in Australia on bridging visas will be given the right to work.
These are significant concessions, but they are decisions Morrison could have made at any time, and they are not – despite efforts to portray them as such – in any way related to the new law.
Manus Island and Nauru currently hold 2,151 refugees and asylum seekers. Detention centres there have been blighted by violence, sexual assault, and suicide attempts, but are unaffected by the new laws, or the government’s concessions.
It ought not to surprise anyone that naval personnel are vulnerable to post traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of implementing the ALP and LNP governments’ asylum seeker policies.
This investigative report by the ABC describes in detail what sailors are required to do in so-called “border protection” actions.
Over a decade ago I interviewed staff at the Woomera and Baxter Detention Centres. Many of them described the same symptoms of PTSD as do the naval personnel interviewed by the ABC. Those staff were, like the navy, caught up in a culture of deliberate dehumanisation of asylum seekers that first requires a dehumanisation of the self, in order to be implemented to the satisfaction of political masters in Canberra.
Both major parties have long known that the best way to calm an outcry about waterborne asylum seekers is to hide them away from the public gaze, criminalise their perfectly legal right to come to this country by boat, and if possible never allow them to be seen as human. One sailor explained that the only way he could continue his work was to think of the asylum seekers as numbers, evidence that these dehumanising tactics work. Their consequences, however, manifest in both victim and perpetrator as post traumatic stress that can cripple a life and destroy a spirit.
Political masters are protected from the front-line traumas that are a direct consequence of their self-serving decisions, but in reality the blood both real and metaphorical of asylum seekers and the men and women who are directly involved with them, is on politicians’ hands and they cannot clean it off. The sight of MPs visiting workplaces is a common one, perhaps PM Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison might spend a day or two attempting to haul bodies from the sea and experiencing the horror of finding their hands full of drowned human flesh that has separated from drowned human bones.
One of the sailors interviewed expressed the opinion that current secrecy surrounding “Operation Sovereign Borders” exacerbates the difficulties and traumas experienced by those charged with its front-line implementation. The potential danger of secrecy is well-known to anyone who’s worked in mental health. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that the combination of the work they are called upon to do combined with the strict secrecy surrounding it, is likely to result in traumatic stress.
It’s outrageous that any government should demand its employees endure such extreme working conditions outside of war (despite what Morrison has claimed we are not at war with people smugglers, though many of us are at war with budgie smugglers) and purely to win that government votes. I can’t forget that the trauma endured by asylum seekers remains largely unacknowledged, is exacerbated by the continuation of dehumanisation after they’ve been despatched to off-shore detention centres, and ongoing uncertainty about their futures.
While a culture of dehumanisation adversely effects everyone involved, at least naval personnel and other staff have some hope of escape from their situations, and treatment.
Obviously the answer is for politicians to cease their barbaric practices and treat both their employees and the asylum seekers with at least a modicum of concern. Politicians are destroying people, literally, in their pursuit of power. Is it any wonder so many of us despise them?
First published on Jennifer’s blog No Place for Sheep
What are the key implications of this bill?
The good thing about TPVs is that they will provide people with access to work rights, Medicare and income support, torture and trauma counselling, translating and interpreting services and education for school aged children. This will allow refugees to support themselves and afford them the dignity they deserve.
However, the negative consequences of TPVs far outweigh any benefits:
- TPVs have been widely criticised by mental health experts, as they force people to live in a state of uncertainty and instability, which results in significant negative mental health impacts. People on TPVs are constantly aware of the fact they could be sent back once the three year term is up.
- TPVs don’t allow for family reunion rights, meaning families can be separated for years. In the past, this has led to an increase of women and children trying to reach Australia by sea.
- The so-called “deterrence value” of TPVs is highly questionable. In the two years following their initial introduction in 1999, there was actually an increase in boat arrivals.
- Introducing TPVs would be an administrative and financial burden, as applications will need to be repeatedly reviewed at least every three years.
It would benefit our economy if refugees were resettled as quickly as possible, and became contributing, working members of our society – however, TPVs would put all of this on hold.
There is also a new type of visa being proposed by the Government – Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) – which seem good at first glance. Details of how the visas will work haven’t yet been released, but there are reports they will allow people to work and stay in Australia for up to five years, provided they live in “designated regional areas”. This could give a much needed boost to regional towns struggling to attract workers. Furthermore, SHEVS provide a pathway to permanent residency (this is different from permanent protection), by allowing refugees on SHEVs to eventually apply for a student or working visa. Sounds pretty good right?
But here’s the catch: refugees (people who are found to be owed permanent protection) will only be eligible to apply for permanent residency if they can manage to support themselves for three and a half of the five years, without any income assistance.
There are significant questions around just how many people SHEVs would help. Applying for a student or work visas would be very difficult for many refugees due to the high application fees and the level of English language skills required, not to mention the hurdles to clear along the process. Even Morrison himself has said to those wishing to apply for such a visa, “good luck to them”.
SHEVs could turn our onshore humanitarian protection system into a skilled migration system, where Australia can pick and choose the refugees they allow to stay permanently.
If passed, this bill will remove most references to the UN Refugee Convention from the Migration Act – in short, we might as well be removing Australia’s signature from the Convention altogether.
The bill will redefine the term “refugee” under Australian law to one that is out of step with, and narrower than, the definition currently accepted under international law.
The “redefined” interpretation of a refugee under this Bill could mean people will need to prove they face a real chance of persecution in all areas of the country they’re fleeing. For example: a Hazara refugee, who escaped the Taliban in a particular province of Afghanistan, will need to show there is no where in Afghanistan they can safely be returned to, or they will risk deportation to a different part of the country.
The bill could also require refugees to take reasonable steps to “modify their behaviour” to avoid persecution. The danger here is that it could be considered “reasonable” for someone who is gay, to stop being gay, or for someone to practise their religion in secret to avoid persecution. In an article penned by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, and former Hawke Government Minister Dr Barry Jones, it was asked:
“Would you expect the inspirational Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who fights for girls’ right to education in the face of Taliban opposition, to “modify her behaviour” and simply retreat indoors?”
Non-refoulement is the part of the Refugee Convention that prohibits a country from sending people back to a place where they could suffer from significant harm. The bill would similarly allow the government to ignore non-refoulement obligations under other international treaties, such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against torture (CAT), meaning people could be sent back to their country of origin, where they may face torture or death.
It’s worth noting that the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights (mainly comprised of Coalition Senators) found that the bill is incompatible with our obligations under international treaties and “is likely to significantly limit a number of human rights protected by international law” – including non-refoulement obligations and the prohibition on torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
This bill will give the government the power to deport someone, regardless of whether an assessment has been made on the risks of refoulement.
However, this bill seeks to override any future decisions made by the High Court on this point, giving the Immigration Minister extraordinary powers to detain people at sea and send them to another country – regardless of whether we have the country’s consent, or whether the country is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.
This is in stark contrast to the Coalition’s position on the Gillard Government’s proposed “Malaysia solution”, when they were in opposition:
“It’s not appropriate to send [asylum seekers] to countries that haven’t signed the UN Convention.”
– Tony Abbott, 29 June 2012
How can the Australian Government override decisions made by the High Court?
In addition the bill will, if passed, suspend the rules of “natural justice” in a range of circumstances. This significantly reduces the scope for any kind of oversight or scrutiny of the government’s actions by the courts, including the High Court.
Essentially, this means the High Court will not be able to rule the government’s actions invalid, even if they breach Australian laws, international laws or the laws of other countries. This would allow the government to intercept people at sea, keep them there for as long as they wish, and ship them to another country – without any repercussions.
While faster application processes can be a good thing, particularly if they help reduce the amount of time people spend in detention, they also raise concerns about the potential dire consequences of not conducting a thorough assessment of applications – the result of which can literally mean life or death for some.
A similar fast track process was struck down by the High Court in the UK, as it carried an “unacceptable risk of unfairness”.
Introducing a fast track process in Australia would undermine our rigorous refugee determination process and significantly increase the chances of someone being sent back to danger.
So what’s a minister to do? Change the current laws of course. If passed, this bill would overturn the High Court’s ruling, allowing the Immigration Minister to suspend processing of protection visas applications and limit the number of people who receive protection.
If you were watching ‘The Project’ on Channel 10, Tuesday night you may have seen veteran Australian actor, Bryan Brown introduce a new movement dedicated to doing something positive about the extraordinary cruelty that our Federal Government is inflicting on hundreds of innocent children currently in detention camps both on and off shore.
There have been a number of occasions when catchy little jingles have captured the heart of our nation but in the cases I remember they have generally dealt with sport. ‘C’mon Aussie C’mon,’ comes to mind. ‘Up there Cazaly,’ is another classic. I remember how they stirred our national spirit and reminded us of things that have made our country great. They still do to some extent.
In some way they reached out and grabbed us by the bristles on the back of our necks, made us proud, captured our sense of pride and urged us on to achieve something greater, something that would identify deep within the soul of the nation. It worked too.
We are a proud nation built on fair-mindedness. We are an egalitarian nation. But somehow, over the past decade or so we have allowed a dark, sinister element to overshadow that sense of fair play. We have dropped our guard. The issue is children in detention. Currently over 700 children are in detention in camps controlled by our Immigration Department, under the management of that hard-line enforcer of all things that threaten the safety of our borders, Scott Morrison; Tony Abbott’s champion of ‘stopping the boats.’
Children, some unaccompanied, some with parents or relatives who have endured an exhaustive journey across vast continents to find a new home, are in detention indefinitely, inhumanely and in defiance of international human rights conventions. All of this is being done in our name.
They are asking for our help.
Currently, over 600 children are locked up in detention centres. 459 are on the Australian mainland and 144 on Christmas Island. There are 186 children detained on Nauru, whom both major political parties insist will never be resettled in Australia, even if they are found to be genuine refugees.
The length of time both children and adults have been kept in detention, waiting to be processed is 413 days. The extent of this cruelty is hidden from us. Scott Morrison has seen to that. It is near impossible to gain access to these children or see the conditions in which they spend their days.
We are better than this. The number of nights I have laid awake wondering what I could do about this doesn’t bear thinking about. But now I can. It might not seem like much, but at least it is something.
At: http://wbttaus.org/#section-who-we-are you can see what that small group of people is doing to force change. Part of their website reads: “Our Government has created detention centres—deterrence camps—on Christmas Island, Nauru and on our own soil. There, the treatment of children is so inhumane and the conditions so appalling that leading Australian psychiatrists and paediatricians have been moved to speak out in a voice unprecedented in their profession.” Surely we are better than this?
On their website you can see the people who are trying to galvanise our social conscience; they are professionals in their field, with experience in human rights, refugee advocacy, public relations, film making, advertising, marketing and social media. They have taken on the task of replicating the imagery of ‘Up there Cazaly’ once more, but this time, for a cause far superior to that of sport. People we know well like Bryan Brown, Ian Chappell, George Gregan, Janet Holmes a Court, Marcia Langton, Ita Buttrose, Nicholas Cowdery and Tom Keneally to name just a few. And they have given us, the ordinary people, a small task.
If you are in any way horrified by the thought that official Australia government policy is to lock up innocent, traumatised children without trial; indefinitely, and under a tightly woven cloak of secrecy, then buy the song, ‘We’re Better Than This’ for $1.63 on iTunes and make it a million seller. On their website you can also arrange for a message to be sent to your local member.The money is a pittance but the message to the government will be deafening.
The song is short, but it will grab the bristles at the back of your neck. It is available as of today at iTunes. You can listen to it on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSSxL6FZLbc
People could be denied Australian citizenship or have their citizenship revoked, under certain conditions, if they are ordered to undertake drug rehabilitation or a residential program for the mentally ill, under legislation that passed the House of Representatives on Monday.
The Australian citizenship and residential amendment bill will face a challenge in the Senate, where Labor and the Greens oppose it.
The legislation lists a number of clauses that the immigration minister can use to revoke or deny citizenship, including a pending, current or previous criminal conviction, or a court-ordered confinement to a psychiatric institution due to criminal offences.
It also states that people who have court orders to undertake a residential drug rehabilitation scheme or a residential program for the mentally ill, can be barred from becoming Australian.
The bill would expand the immigration minister’s powers in deciding who can be granted citizenship, and legislates a good character requirement for applicants.
Guardian Australia contacted the office of the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, to obtain an outline of what constitutes good character, but did not receive a response.
“Minister Morrison’s lust for power is out of control,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Guardian Australia. “He’s trying to give himself the authority to strip people of their citizenship and render them stateless.
“Scott Morrison thinks he is above the judicial system and the need for legal accountability and review. While these measures will hit refugees the hardest, it will leave Australian citizens open to the whims of the minister of the day.”
Hanson-Young said if the bill passed, children born to refugee parents in Australia could be deported with the stroke a pen.
“He cannot be trusted with these powers and I urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to stand up for the people, including regular Australian citizens, who are being targeted by this bill,” she said.
With both Labor and the Greens opposed to the bill, the government must negotiate with the volatile crossbench, including newly-independent senator Jacqui Lambie, who left the Palmer United party on Monday morning.
Labor wants more time to go through the bill.
“The government’s attempt to ram through this legislation without providing an opportunity for proper and careful consideration shows a lack of respect for our citizenship program,” a spokesman for the opposition’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said.
“This is not an area of policy with which the opposition are prepared to be so flippant. It is on this procedural basis that we have opposed this bill in the House, because there has simply not been enough time allocated to properly consider this very important piece of legislation.
“It is important that we deal with matters relating to citizenship with the highest diligence. Labor will not rush down the path of passing legislation that affects this policy area until we are wholeheartedly satisfied it is appropriate in all respects and will bear no unintended consequences or impact on matters of citizenship.”
Morrison told the House of Representatives on Monday afternoon that the changes were about restoring integrity to the migration system, and that the bar for becoming Australian should be high.
“We should always ensure they are kept high, and that is not be achieved by being complacent about the standards and administration of those standards. You must be ever-vigilant on these things,” Morrison said.
The bill gives the minister the power to revoke citizenship if there is evidence that the citizenship was obtained fraudulently.
It also extends the deferral period for the minister to decide if someone can be granted citizenship from 12 months to two years, if there are questions relating to their character or conduct.