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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CT&P) – Outraged by President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, Republican lawmakers, with the full support of their right-wing Christian base, have proposed a different plan to deal with the almost five million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.
The plan calls for a significant percentage of the “illegals” to be executed immediately as a terrifying example to all those wishing to enter this country in search of a better life. The remainder of the “shiftless job-stealing cretins” would be rounded up and forced back across the border at gunpoint.
Possibly the most ambitious part of the proposal calls for a 20 foot high wall adorned with pikes to be built along our southern border. The severed heads of those trying to cross the border illegally would be placed on the decorative pikes as a reminder to those who would try to enter in the future.
Nan Hypocritus, president and managing director of Christians Against Compassion and Empathy, an anti-immigrant group, told Reuters that her group was incredulous that President Obama would take such drastic unilateral action so close to the holidays.
“Thanksgiving is just next week, and Christmas is just around the corner!” said Hypocritus. “How dare he throw a wrench into the sacred holiday season by showing love and compassion to a group of brown people? We Christians have better things to do than worry about protecting immigrants from being torn away from their families and deported to God knows where! We have shopping to do and we are just getting geared up to act like a persecuted minority over the whole ‘War On Christmas’ fantasy! This is just outrageous!”
Although similar executive actions regarding immigration were taken by Republican presidents in the past, G.O.P. leaders are beside themselves over Obama’s orders and vow to make the new proposal law in the near future.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has lumped the new “Final Solution” Immigration Reform Bill in with an omnibus spending package that also features the repeal of Obamacare, mandatory fracking in national parks, the elimination of the EPA and the Department of Education, and the death penalty for Hillary Clinton for her role in the Benghazi conspiracy.
Nauru’s culture of hospitality once applied to all, including the asylum seekers who arrived in 2001 to a dance of welcome, a tradition depicted on this stamp. Refugee resettlement has changed all that. Author provided
Refugees settled on Nauru woke on Monday to find an ominous letter, signed “Youth of Republic of Nauru”, had been delivered overnight. Copies had been left at shops, homes, workplaces employing refugees and a restaurant, as well as at Fly Camp where male refugees are held and at the family camp and houses where young unaccompanied refugees live. Copies were thrown over the detention centre fence, erasing the distinction between recognised refugees settled outside and those still in detention under an agreement between the Australian and Nauru governments.
The distribution of the letter points to an orchestrated campaign, rather than a spontaneous individual act of intimidation.
The letter states:
“… we warn Refugees to Go Away of our country and just to hell with all your concerns if not, get ready for the bad things happening and waiting ahead.
It contains disturbing resentments and accusations:
Our women, girls and daughters are having contact with refugees and having affairs with them and we can never see our women having fun with refugees and neglecting locals.
It warns that:
… we can see clearly in near future refugees will be the leading and ruling people and will make local community people their slaves.
Such charges are characteristic of hate manifestos designed to mobilise communities against targeted groups. They are recognisable as the grievances that historically inform racist propaganda. The aim is to scapegoat and intimidate target groups and incite violence against them with the objective of removing them from the community.
We warn our Corrupt Government as well Australian Government to take away your rubbish (refugees) and leave our country, otherwise there can be worse situations for refugees as you can see these days.
The reference to “rubbish” articulates precisely the logic of ethnic cleansing.
The phrase “as you can see” is a chilling reference to acts of thuggery against unaccompanied juvenile refugees, to whom a particular duty of care is owed. Living on their own in isolated locations, these vulnerable young refugees have reported being harassed, intimidated and physically beaten by groups of men on motorbikes.
These attacks were reported to authorities, including police and Save the Children, which is contracted to care for the refugees.
After seeing the letter, refugees again reported their fears to these authorities. The government has dismissed their concerns. They have not received any guarantees to safeguard their welfare and remain in great fear.
Australia in denial of its responsibility
Nauruan authorities reportedly responded that Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) should be the one to address the refugees’ concerns. Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has already washed his hands of his obligations. His spokesman has stated that any attack on a person settled on Nauru “is wholly a matter for Nauru”.
This is a blatant abrogation of responsibility. In the international context, it demonstrates a total disregard for the spirit of the Refugee Convention. Regionally, it evidences a disturbing indifference to the volatile and increasingly violent conditions that Australian policy has generated in neighbouring states such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
By exploiting its political and economic power over former Australian protectorates for domestic political ends, Australia has created conditions that serve to foment unrest with potentially lethal consequences.
The letter states:
… we cannot see and tolerate that Australia Government headache (refugees) [is] making our lives crashing and bringing down to the ground.
In other words, even as the letter scapegoats refugees, it holds Australia responsible for the new elements introduced to “our small and congested community”. It argues that:
Nauru is a conservative country, it is not a multicultural country so resettling refugees means that inducing [sic] culture from different countries and we think that we are never been ready for that.
Detention camps and their social and physical infrastructure – personnel, equipment, environmental features – are visible markers of Australian power. Their imposition compounds the legacy of Australia’s colonial impositions, one of irreversible environmental destruction and serious economic and political damage.
A once welcoming culture poisoned
In diagnosing the nativist sentiment of this letter, we wish to emphasise the dangerous conditions Australia has irresponsibly engendered in a small and vulnerable neighbour. Already disadvantaged, Nauruans are being called upon to assume Australians’ responsibilities. Our failure to fulfil our international obligations to refugees within our own expansive borders and our outsourcing of these to small, resource-poor societies lies at the heart of the ugly and violent sentiments expressed in the letter.
Such sentiments represent an erosion of Pacific communities’ traditional values of hospitality. At a recent Australian Studies conference, colleagues from the region voiced distress at this perversion of core aspects of their societies and cultures. In 2001, when the first asylum seekers landed on Nauru under the Pacific Solution, Nauruans greeted them with a welcome dance. Today Nauru and Australia are both harsher and lesser societies.
The cultivation of nativism in place of values of generosity has taken a disturbing turn on Nauru. Several refugees have expressed the sense that underlying political agendas are driving it: “we are just being kicked around for politics”.
We call on Minister Morrison and DIAC to assume their ethical and legal responsibility to protect unaccompanied minors and other recognised refugees whom the Australian government has placed on Nauru. Australia should immediately reassess a policy that has proved so destructive in its effects, as refugees continue to be resettled in a climate of fear and uncertainty.
The letter campaign is the latest chilling symptom of the toxic effects of Australia’s “no advantage” policy. That it invokes the horrific spectre of ethnic cleansing is an indictment of the great wrong we have perpetrated in our region.
BOUNDLESS PAIN TO SHARE
Among his long list of reasons that explain why the Abbott government is failing to impress voters, Andrew Bolt yesterday suggested that its “most successful minister, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, has been given not a single new problem to solve since stopping the boats”. In the absence of anything else to do, then, it appears that Morrison has now decided to stop the boats even earlier. Anybody who arrived in Indonesia after 1 July this year and who applies for refugee status will now be ineligible to be resettled in Australia – even if he or she has been assessed as a refugee by the United Nations. Today the UNHCR confirms that Australia is “undertaking an internal review” of its global humanitarian resettlement program.
Morrison continues to claim that his policies are consistent with the Refugees Convention, though such claims should probably be seen as “mere puffery” – a legal term allowing a salesperson to lie about his product if his lie is so obvious as to not be taken seriously by any rational observer. The Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre’s David Manne points out that Morrison’s latest policy change “does nothing to improve the plight of refugees needing protection”, and aids Australia in “failing to shoulder its fair share of the responsibility to protect refugees”. The ABC has spoken to asylum seekers in Indonesia who say the changed rules might actually prompt them to get on a boat.
Morrison wants asylum seekers – including Hazaras fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan – to apply for refugee status in the “country of first asylum”, but the only parties to the Convention between Afghanistan and Australia are Cambodia, where Sarah Hanson-Young is currently learning that refugees “have no real rights”, and the desperately poor Timor-Leste. Presumably Morrison wants the developing world to shoulder even more than the 80 per cent burden it already carries for refugee welfare, but Indonesia has been “briefed”, rather than consulted, on the latest move.
Scott Morrison walks on water to avoid the truth such is his arrogance
Scott Morrison’s duplicitous history is on record from his nomination for the seat of Cook with the fortuitous help of News Corp To his current efforts to expand his portfolio at the expense of other sitting ministers. Why should we believe any denial of this story. Julian Burnside’s reputation on the other hand is second to none.
Federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has denied statements made by prominent human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC that asylum seekers were offered relocation to Australia in return for withdrawing witness statements about the death of Iranian detainee Reza Barati.
Mr Burnside, an outspoken critic of the Federal Government’s immigration detention policies, made the claim while accepting the Sydney Peace Prize last night.
He said a confidential source told him witnesses to the death of Mr Barati were offered transfer to Australia if they took back their statements.
“My understanding is that some people in the Manus Island detention are being offered the opportunity of being taken to mainland Australia on condition they withdraw any witness statements they’ve made,” he told the function at Sydney Town Hall.
However, the Immigration Minister has strongly denied the allegations.
“This is a false and offensive suggestion made without any basis or substantiation by advocates with proven form of political malice and opposition to the Government’s successful border protection policies. The government once again rejects these claims,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Barati, 23, was killed during a riot at the Australian-run Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea in February.
An official report found Mr Barati suffered a severe brain injury caused by a brutal beating by several assailants and died a few hours later.
Mr Burnside said he was told 13 to 14 people were involved in the death of Mr Barati.
He told the function he had received a sworn statement from an eyewitness about Mr Barati’s death.
“An employee of the detention centre, armed with a length of timber with two nails driven through it, had lashed out at Reza Barati and had brought down two crushing blows on his head,” Mr Burnside said.
He said Mr Barati’s scalp was lacerated and he fell to the ground.
He was then kicked repeatedly by a dozen employees from within the detention centre including two Australians. They kicked him in the head and stomach as he tried to protect himself with his arms, Mr Burnside told the crowd.
He said another employee took a rock and smashed it on Mr Barati’s head with “such ferocity, it killed him”.
Two PNG men were charged with murder but their trial was delayed because they did not have lawyers.
In a wide ranging speech on Australia’s human rights record, Mr Burnside accused both the Coalition and Labor of treating asylum seekers in a cruel and selfish manner.
But he said he was not party political.
“Labor has never contradicted the Coalition’s dishonest message about asylum seekers,” he said.
“The Coalition call them illegal. It’s a lie.
“The Coalition call them queue jumpers. It’s a lie.”
Burnside praised as a fearless humanitarian
Past winners of Australia’s only international award for peace include US intellectual Professor Noam Chomsky, and Indigenous leader, Pat Dodson.
Former New South Wales governor, Dame Marie Bashir, praised Mr Burnside as a champion of human rights.
“You are an Australian of outstanding qualities, distinguished as a barrister, a humanist, an author and as we have heard tonight, a fearless humanitarian,” Dame Bashir told the ceremony.
Mr Burnside said in his speech the world sees Australia as cruel and selfish because of the way asylum seekers are treated.
“Boatpeople who manage to get to Australia are mistreated in every possible way as if somehow that will make us feel better or safer,” he told the function.
Hours earlier, the Sydney Town Hall hosted a memorial service for former prime minister, Gough Whitlam.
Mr Burnside said the country needed more politicians of Mr Whitlam’s calibre.
“Whitlam was a colossus but a survey of today’s political landscape shows we are led by midgets,” he said.
“Led may not be the right word.
“We haven’t seen a political leader in this country for decades,” he said.
Minister says asylum seekers found to be refugees will be given ‘cultural training’ but not permanent resettlement
Papua New Guinea has insisted that a permanent agreement on resettlement of refugees is still being determined but has signalled temporary concessions for those held in Manus Island detention centre by offering them bridging visas and “cultural training”.
PNG’s immigration minister, Rimbink Pato, on Wednesday formalised Port Moresby’s position on the asylum seekers, saying they would be offered the equivalent of Australian bridging visas and cultural training at an Australian-funded centre in East Lorengau on Manus.
Asylum seekers who have been processed and found to be refugees will have classes in English and pidgin, or Tok Pisin. They will also be taught the PNG way of life so they can fit in with locals.
But Pato said: “These people will not yet be permanently resettled.”
PNG’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, last month told his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, that Port Moresby would be tearing up the existing resettlement agreement, signed in July 2013 by Kevin Rudd, and offering a revised one for cabinet to sign off on.
“The prime minister, Peter O’Neill, announced on 19 October that we will conduct a comprehensive program of public awareness raising and consultation about refugee resettlement before developing a new national refugee settlement policy for cabinet’s endorsement,” he said.
The Manus Island MP, Ron Knight, has told Guardian Australia that locals will accept the refugees if they have skills that are lacking on the island. “If they are surgeons or doctors they will be welcome,” he said. “If they have skill sets that we don’t, they will be welcome.”
Without such skills, the locals would be reluctant to accept them: “Why would we take people into our overcrowded towns? Why would we adopt more problems?”
Questions remain about where the refugees will live. “I don’t think anyone [local provinces] will take them. Ninety-seven per cent of land in PNG is customarily owned, and the government-owned land that remains is already very crowded,” Knight said.
He warned of violence if refugees encroached on locally owned properties. “Land in PNG is something that people die over, willingly.”
Knight said there was definitely a “move towards permanent resettlement in PNG, but the question is how”.
Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said it was still too dangerous for refugees to live permanently in PNG.
“The fact is they haven’t, and are not able, to resettle,” she told Guardian Australia. “This announcement is a way of buying time [for the PNG government] to continue to keep them in some form of detention.”
Amnesty International is also concerned about the safety of refugees who may be granted asylum in PNG.
“It is not clear what steps have been taken to ensure their security [and] alleviate tensions between refugees and local people,” Amnesty’s refugee campaign coordinator, Graeme McGregor, said.
Curr said PNG was “under immense pressure” to resettle the refugees “because of money given by the Australian government”.
Guardian Australia has sought comment from Australia’s immigration minister, Scott Morrison.
It’s a rocky time for everyone clinging to the border protection liferaft. We’ve got unaccompanied child refugees in Nauru being bashed and threatened with death and, if that’s insufficiently disturbing, coming down the pipeline is new migration and maritime legislation that enshrines the most fevered attempt to shred the rule of law.
First to Nauru, where last week Guardian Australia reported four unaccompanied boys between 15 and 17, who had refugee status and were living in the community, had been roughed-up by a group of local men on motorbikes. They made it clear that these “motherfucker refugees” were not welcome on the charmless rocky outcrop.
Two of the lads were hospitalised and all of them traumatised. Scott Morrison, characteristically, managed to be both ruthless and inaccurate. He took no responsibility for these refugees. “This incident is wholly a matter for Nauru,” he said.
It would be near-impossible to record each and every occasion Morrison dissembled, misled or was downright inaccurate. But this particular pork pie cannot be allowed to pass without taking a big bite from it. It is not entirely a matter for Nauru at all, it is mainly a matter for Morrison, for a number of reasons.
The minister may not be aware of it, but there is a well developed body of law governing state responsibility, which says nations cannot simply divest themselves of legal obligations.
The fact that Morrison is not capable of “delegating out” can be found not only in international law, but in the memorandum of understanding between Nauru and Australia. Among other things it says, “participants [ie the two countries] will treat refugees with dignity and respect and in accordance with relevant human rights standards”.
The use of the word “participants” means that this is not just on Nauru’s shoulders. Further, nothing in the document limits Australia’s human rights obligations.
Most asylum seekers sent by the Australian government to the tiny island, who are found to be refugees, are only given Nauruan visas for five years. What happens after that is unknown. Maybe a few will be sent, against their will, to Cambodia.
Settlement in Nauru was only ever a temporary “solution”. The future of these refugees is still in the hands of the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Madeline Gleeson, a research associate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of NSW, says that until a durable solution is found, the children who have been injured and threatened are still within Australia’s obligation of care.
Nor can Morrison shrug off Australia’s international obligations under the treaties to which it is a party – specifically in this case the conventions dealing with the rights of the child, the status of refugees, and civil and political rights. In any case, the parliamentary joint committee on human rights has found the new laws breach Australia’s obligations under international law.
As recently as June this year in the case where the high court found that capping protection visas was invalid, Robert French, the chief justice, said that the Migration Act must be construed consistently with Australia’s treaty obligations – unless parliament specifically and unambiguously says otherwise.
For good measure, the European court of justice has ruled that unaccompanied children cannot be arbitrarily transferred between countries in such a way as to prolong the processing of refugee claims.
The European court of human rights, in 2012, found that countries cannot contract out of their state responsibilities. In that case, Italy could not under a bilateral agreement transfer irregular arrivals by sea to Libya.
This body of jurisprudence resonates with the prevailing Australian circumstances. But what can be done about it?
The treaties themselves do not provide remedies. Madeline Gleeson says their purpose is to establish a “normative minimum standard” for the treatment of all people within Australia’s jurisdiction, including children and refugees.
To get a remedy for youngsters in harm’s way in Nauru would require someone to get the government to court, on the basis that Morrison has breached his duty of care.
While the minister’s hand-washing routine continues, he has other treats in his locker – the daddy of them all being a bill to give him far-reaching powers over the detention and dispatch of asylum seekers, along with measures to dismantle previous high court findings and head off future ones.
The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill is quite a mouthful and seeks to bite off more that the government can legally digest.
The legislation, if passed, would give power to the minister to detain people on the high seas and send them anywhere, including back to where they face persecution – in breach of the refugee convention and the convention against torture.
The convention relating to the status of refugees also comes in for a frontal attack, as the legislation removes references to it from the Migration Act. In some peculiar drafting mindset there’s a mistaken belief that once shredded from domestic law the internationally ordained obligations to refugees can be forgotten.
Other main provisions include the usual cat-and-mouse game with lawyers – empowering bureaucratic arbitrariness and limiting the rule of law. There are also provisions that would overturn the high court’s decision in June, by permitting the minister to cap the number of protection visas.
Submissions to the senate legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee are now closed, with a reporting date of November 27.
The Coalition continues to dress-up these punitive measures with the conceit that they have the humanitarian purpose of saving lives at sea – never mind the painstaking destruction of lives on land. This is the moral vacuum into which Morrison and his colleagues have plunged us.
As well as the reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas, which leave refugees in constant statelessness and fear of being returned to persecution, the Australian Minister for Immigration is proposing changes to the Migration Act which are utterly alarming. The ‘Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014′ removes references to the UN Refugee Convention to allow Australia’s domestic law to ignore Australia’s obligations under international law. It also removes the ability of the High Court to challenge refugee and asylum seeker policy and operations.
The bill exempts vessels involved in Operation Sovereign Borders from the appropriate maritime laws. There will be nothing to stop fuel, food, water and safety devices from being removed from intercepted boats. The Government will have the power to send boats or individuals anywhere it chooses. The bill removes the need for Australia to have a Memorandum of Understanding in place, or for the country to be a signatory to the Refugee Convention. The bill will allow boats to be towed outside of Australian waters and left there without regard for the safety of passengers.
The bill proposes a fast track assessment process which removes access to the Refugee Review Tribunal. Fast turnaround processing was ruled illegal in the United Kingdom earlier this year due to an “unacceptable risk of unfairness”. The bill seeks to change the definition of ‘refugee’ to allow the government to reject a refugee status application if it decides that there is a ‘safe area’ in the country of origin, or that the nation’s police force is ‘reasonably effective’. This is nothing short of playing with people’s lives. It will allow the Australian government to send back asylum seekers, regardless of whether they face a real chance of torture or execution on return. What does Scott Morrison think happens to Hazara people when they are returned to Afghanistan or to Tamil people who are returned to Sri Lanka? Does he really believe that members of the Taliban or Rajapaksa’s regime are unable to travel to target their victims? If he had converted to Christianity in Iran, or spoken against the Iranian Government, would he really trust the Iranian police force to protect him?
Children born in Australia, to asylum seekers who arrived by boat, will be classified as “transitory persons”, creating a new generation of stateless people, and giving them no access to permanent residency or citizenship. Does Scott Morrison really believe that these babies pose a serious threat to Australia as we know it? Or is his distain, even hatred, for asylum seekers so great that detaining innocent children indefinitely doesn’t satisfy his lust for vengeance; does he feel the need to ensure that his punishments will continue for each of their lifetimes?
The ‘Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014′ gives the Australian Government, under domestic law, the power to ignore international law and to engage in state-sanctioned human rights abuses. It will allow Australia to be complicit, even collaborative, in the persecution, torture and execution of innocent people. The Minister for Immigration will have absolute power, and his actions under Operation Sovereign Borders will not be brought to account by Australia’s justice system. He will become untouchable. This sets a very dangerous precedent for Australian politics and law.
I see so many people ‘liking’ and sharing messages about Australia’s terrible mistreatment of asylum seekers, on social media. I read the comments they write, pouring out their outrage and their grief. Yet, when it comes to asking them to take the time to write to politicians to urge them to oppose this horrific bill, the passion and the anger appear to evaporate. I for one, need to know that I have done everything in my power, and then some, to persuade the Senators to vote against this bill. Will you join me in writing to them? You don’t need to produce a perfectly crafted, eloquent letter; you just need to write! A few lines will do. If you are an Australian citizen, tell them that you cannot support politicians who sanction human rights abuses. If you are an expat, tell them how horrified you are at what Australia has become while you have been away. Most of all, tell them to oppose this bill.
An opinion piece after 54:47 poll disaster for Abbott, Hockey is done and dusted Turnbull is not liked by the Right so Scott Morrison has to be dealt with.
IMMIGRATION Minister Scott Morrison is on the prowl. He wants new portfolio responsibilities, and his colleagues are none too impressed with his agitating for carve-outs from their ministerial duties.
On September 30, The Australian revealed that Morrison might be hoping to secure extra duties in a beefed-up Homeland Security-type portfolio. The proposal would have seen Australian Federal Police, Customs and intelligence services, as well as some other agencies, brought under Morrison’s watch. The cabinet has not endorsed the idea, which had been examined separately by a bureaucratic review of our security services.
The new portfolio would have seen deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop give up responsibilities, but she was having none of it. Bishop issued a sharp rebuke to Morrison when The Australian broke the story.
Attorney-General George Brandis also would have lost responsibilities under the Morrison push. Brandis used an address to the National Press Club to repel the idea. And he chose not to be diplomatic about it when doing so. Brandis’s junior minister, Justice Minister Michael Keenan, also would have been forced to shed powers to Morrison under the Immigration Minister’s ambitions. Keenan already lost border protection from his ambit of duties when the Coalition came into government.
This week we have seen reports that Morrison now wants to take over biosecurity responsibilities from Nationals deputy leader and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, who was surprisingly diplomatic in question time on Wednesday when opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon pressed him on the issue.
Biosecurity has long been a tightly held responsibility of Nationals ministers when the Coalition holds office. “You should hear what he says privately about Scott’s power grab,” a Nationals MP told me. “It would be fair to say he wasn’t nearly as calm.” We know Joyce pushed back hard against Morrison internally, airing his displeasure to the Prime Minister’s Office.
But Morrison’s desire to secure more powers doesn’t stop with needling at the portfolios of Bishop, Brandis, Keenan and Joyce. He’s also after responsibilities that are the preserve of Health Minister Peter Dutton. Wrapped up with biosecurity are the healthcare responsibilities of managing Australia’s response to the Ebola crisis. Morrison thinks he is the best man for that job, too.
The Immigration Minister has been successful at “stopping the boats”, whether opponents of his harsh approach (such as me) like it or not. Morrison therefore carries significant political capital wherever he goes. And judging by his efforts to nudge colleagues out of the way, he has become rather confident in his capacity to deliver pretty much anything.
The push for a super portfolio, dismissed publicly as “speculation”, is reminiscent of Julia Gillard’s super portfolio of education and industrial relations, which ensured that while she didn’t damage the uneasy truce between Kevin Rudd and Treasury spokesman Wayne Swan at the time, she remained a cut above other frontbench colleagues.
The difference now is that Morrison isn’t the deputy, which Gillard was. He has no rights to seek further responsibilities so soon after entering government, and the tensions and destabilisation such pushing creates risks getting Tony Abbott off-side. Which would be an unnecessary aggravation by Morrison, as Abbott the conservative would probably like to see the religious conservative Morrison overtake the likes of Bishop, Joe Hockey and Malcolm Turnbull as the natural leadership successor.
It is hard to fathom why Morrison is in such a rush. Some politicians can’t help but stay in perpetual motion. That was always Rudd’s problem.
Morrison needs to be careful because his senior colleagues are growing tired of what they privately describe as Morrison’s “I’m always right” approach to any discussion. One cabinet minister told me: “He’s great to deal with until he disagrees with you about something. Then you see the real Scott, and it’s not pleasant.”
That’s a character assessment that Labor MPs started to make about Rudd soon after he became PM. While Morrison has shown a competence in his portfolio that Rudd rarely did, ministerial successes can’t paper over personal animosities caused by impolite interactions with colleagues. Managing up doesn’t always work in a democratic party structure.
We already knew before the Coalition won office that Morrison was keen on a change of portfolio as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Now, however, with the broad issue of national security likely to be front and centre alongside the economy for the remainder of this term, it is perhaps understandable that Morrison would like more of the same power rather than a switch.
At first glance there doesn’t appear to be anywhere else senior enough for him to move to. Foreign affairs is taken and that won’t change. Abbott wouldn’t dare shift Hockey out of Treasury, knowing that would unleash internal instability. Besides, Hockey works well with Mathias Cormann, who is in finance. Shifting Cormann and pairing Morrison up with Hockey would be a recipe for disaster, so that won’t happen either.
Defence was always talked about as a portfolio Morrison might like to shift into, but that is more problematic now. David Johnston is considered a weak fit, but he is close to West Australian colleague Bishop, who would likely use her authority to protect him in any reshuffle. Besides, Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert is a close ally of Morrison. He no doubt has cabinet ambitions in that portfolio space. And the PM knows defence can be a graveyard for senior ministers, which might tempt him to send Turnbull there one day to distract the member for Wentworth from ambitions beyond communications.
If Morrison isn’t happy staying where he is, and a new homeland security portfolio is out of the question, Abbott could give him the social security ministry.
Kevin Andrews then replaces Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop takes up a diplomatic post in a location other than the Middle East, and Morrison can get to work on fixing, expanding and selling the all-important welfare reforms.
Success at such a task would broaden his image, carry economic (and reforming) credibility and significantly help the government. Implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme would give Morrison a chance to display a softer side.
The only loser in this scenario is Assistant Social Security Minister Mitch Fifield, who would have to work with Morrison — assuming those who complain that Morrison is hard to work with are right, of course.
While at one level it suits the PM to have rivalry among future leadership aspirants because it means they eye each other off rather than him, it also causes unrest. The leak to me out of cabinet in February that Morrison argued (unsuccessfully) for subsidising SPC Ardmona caused the Immigration Minister to complain at the following cabinet meeting that colleagues were backgrounding against him. Since that time a longer line of Morrison’s colleagues have started to leak against him as well.
The Immigration Minister needs to do more than stop the boats. He must stop agitating for promotion and rebuild his relationship with colleagues
It is legal to cross borders without papers for the purposes of seeking asylum, even under Australian law, so why don’t our media challenge politicians who say the opposite? Marilyn Shepherd comments.
In 1999, then Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock introduced laws into Federal Parliament claiming anyone who pays a so-called people smuggler to bring them to Australia are criminals, paying criminals and therefore not really refugees.
In March 2000, Indonesian fishing crews began to face courts on this so-called smuggling charge, at which time the courts unanimously stated that it was not people smuggling but that the passengers were merely being transported to Australia to face the authorities and ask for asylum. However, the Indonesia crews were gaoled because the courts said they were “forced” to uphold our law due to significant expense to Australia of assessing “illegal” immigrant claims.
In November 2000, the UN drafted and approved a Smuggling of Migrants protocol, which excluded the movement of refugees from the criminal elements of crossing borders without papers and stating clearly that people must not be punished simply for being smuggled.
There have been two Senate inquiries into the stories of people smugglers, after children as young as 13 were found to be gaoled in adult prisons in Western Australia. Not one expert agreed with the Government position that seeking asylum had anything to do with people smuggling, because it is legal to cross borders without papers for the purposes of seeking asylum, even under Australian law.
Even after those two investigations, children being gaoled in adult prisons, other children being kidnapped by Australia and their families in Indonesia forced to think they had died at sea, we continue to have a media that refuses to ever concede it is not people smuggling to seek asylum in any other country but here.
The culmination of that brutal ignorance was writ large in Brisbane last week in the case of stateless Rohingya baby Ferouz, born in Australia to people already recognised by the UNHCR as stateless refugees, but deemed by Australia to have arrived in the womb by boat.
It is not the first time such a decision has been made and upheld — even, in the case of six-year-old Tania Singh, as far up the chain as the High Court.
The judge also said the law’s aim was to discourage the use of people smugglers.
If the government’s decision was reversed, he said:
“… there may be more incentive for pregnant women to engage people smugglers.”
Since I wrote this article, which proves comprehensively that seeking asylum is not people smuggling as our media and politicians claim, it is simply exercising a legal right, not one journalist has challenged Scott Morrison, Chris Bowen, Tony Burke or – anyone else – about the twin lies we tell to justify our shocking abuses towards refugees.
Not a single journalist has even mentioned the smuggling protocol, which excludes refugees and forbids all forms of punishment merely for being “smuggled”.
Terrible decisions and laws based on lies have terrible easily foreseen consequences, yet none of the usual suspects in the MSM will explore those in any great detail, just publish the occasional report.
Turning back the boats was the mantra of Abbott and Morrison before the last election and the MSM cheered them on as if it was the most sensible thing on earth. The consequences of that mantra are still being played out in the most horrific circumstances.
First, we heard claims about refugees allegedly being tortured and burnt by the ADF and dumped on the ocean in orange boxes 30 nautical miles from the Indonesian coast and left to die. That included babies and pregnant women, but Morrison didn’t care a jot, he simply claimed sovereignty and protecting our borders, and not one journalist had the wit to ask when Indonesia became our borders.
Brilliant historian Marg Hutton has kept a running record of every circumstance, the numbers of refugees turned away and the number killed by our cruel policies of piracy, kidnapping and trafficking across international waters and ABC 7.30 finally showed us what happens in the orange boxes.
All this with the stated claim of “saving lives at sea”.
Among the occasional stories like these, the stand out consistent reportage has come from numerous special reports being leaked to the Guardian UK and reported by Paul Farrell and Oliver Laughland. Meanwhile, the rest of the media can’t even be bothered to read the Ombudsman’s reports of people going insane in detention.
At the same time, Immigration Minister Morrison refuses to assess a single claim until he can change the law to temporary protection only.
On ABC Foreign Correspondent this week, came a stark comparison with Italy, where we saw how an ethical and principled nation deals with asylum seekers.
In the High Court, the Government argues that we can do what we like at sea with immunity even though nothing Morrison is doing has been put to parliamentary vote. Now, to pre-empt all court cases, Morrison has attempted to delete the Refugee Convention from the Migration Act, as if that somehow excludes us from the law.
It’s shameful that, due to lazy politicians pandering to racists and media too lazy to challenge them, we are regularly now attempting to traffic babies to their deaths.
So entrenched is the smuggler brainwashing a Federal Court judge thinks he can cite an explanatory memorandum to deny refuge to a baby.
A group of asylum seekers who took the immigration department to court over the exposure of their personal details in a major data breach have won a federal court appeal, and the immigration minister has been ordered to pay their costs.
In February the immigration department inadvertently exposed the personal details of thousands of asylum seekers in their care by disclosing their details on a file on its public website.
The breach sparked a wave of court actions from asylum seekers, but some had failed in an earlier bid in the federal circuit court to seek orders preventing their deportation and declarations that would require the data breach to be considered when their claims were being processed.
The progress of the cases has been confused because of two different federal circuit court judgments that took different views on how the cases should progress.
Appeals relating to both those matters were heard on Friday by a full bench of the federal court before justices Nye Perram, Jayne Jagot and John Griffiths.
Perram, with the agreement of Jagot and Griffiths, found that for at least two of the asylum seekers before Judge Rolf Driver the earlier decision “miscarried” and the matter sent back to the federal circuit court.
“It seems to me in these circumstances that the appeal should be allowed,” he said.
“The minister should be ordered to pay the costs of this court and the costs below.”
The immigration minister’s counsel also conceded during the hearing that there was no process in place to deal with the asylum seekers’ claims at the time a letter from the department secretary was sent out informing them of the breach.
The letter advised asylum seekers affected by the breach that the department would “assess any implications for you personally as part of its normal processes”.
Morrison’s counsel argued that a new bill before the parliament would put a clear process in place, but the bill has not been passed. On Friday Clive Palmer indicated he had some reservations about its contents.
In one of a series of sharp exchanges, Griffiths said: “So there were no normal processes in place at the time?”
The minister’s counsel responded: “They were in development.”
Griffiths observed: “They still haven’t been developed as of today.”
Perram remarked that the relevant provisions of the Migration Act and the circumstances of the case posed a number of difficulties, describing the act as “a wall of mirrors really”.
He later added: “I feel like I’m in Alice in Wonderland.”
The matter continues