I’m really cross about this, but also tired, in a sense. Will the government ever start having a shred of decency or are we as Australians going to continue to be pariahs? Today, possibly as you read this blog post, the High Court will be determining whether or not the government has the right to send about 250 people – 37 babies, 160 adults and 50-odd other children (to quote the article above) – back to Nauru.
The article I’ve linked to above (the url under the picture) explains things very clearly.
If the government wins the case, then they’ll be able to move the people to Nauru and hopefully, they think, out of sight and mind (fat chance!). They’ll also be then able to claim that they’ve “reduced the numbers” of children in immigration (mainland) detention, as that’s where many of these kids are coming from. It’s duplicitous and unfair. Nauru is not a place for children, given the uncomfortable heat, lack of adequate medical care, and reports of brutality by guards and resentment from locals. Last night on 7:30, a report detailed some of the horrors these children have experienced and why they’re scared to go back. The situation is so bad that a group of teenagers on Nauru have composed a video and petition, asking to be released to Australia – asking for help.
On the other hand, if the refugee advocates win the case, then it is highly likely the group will instead be flown off to Christmas Island. Reports have surfaced of the government building a new “family detention facility” there. That is still detention.
It sickens me. The government just don’t care about anything other than being “tough on border security” it seems, heedless of those whose dignity they trample on in the process. (An article on junkee.com has more regarding how and why this situation became the way it is.)
Not to mention the plight of people in community and other detention who have had their refugee claims dismissed and are facing deportation back to the countries they fled from, without being told their case particulars. They are living in limbo too.
There was a very good article in The Saturday Age on the weekend (30/01/16). In it, Michael Gordon discussed the situation and the current options for the government. I encourage you to read it. It is suggested that there are three options (with words in quotes taken from the article):
- Deliberately narrow option proposed by academic Robert Manne. “It would see the Nauru and Manus caseloads gradually and quietly settled in Australia, roughly according to how desperate their situations have become, with the other blunt edges of Australia’s policy, like turnbacks to Indonesia, remaining. Once the centres were empty, they would be mothballed, but retained as a weapon to deter future arrivals.” (Similar to the Howard government approach.)
- A small group of Coalition MPs have been “quietly urging Turnbull to act and focusing their attention on the potential to collaborate more closely with Indonesia, with turnbacks on the table. The reformers are acutely aware of the dynamics within the Turnbull government, knowing that supporters of the deposed Tony Abbott will exploit any perceived policy retreats. As a consequence, they are opting for discretion and caution.”
- The most long-term and ambitious approach, with “more than 30 experts, advocates, academics and government and non-government officials from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar [working] together”. They aim to develop “a regional approach to mass people movements that would render unnecessary dangerous boats trips and the cruel policies Australia has developed to deter them.” (It is an ongoing discussion; the second of six planned meetings over three years was held recently.)
The right thing to do, here, requires political bravery. We can but hope that the right people have the courage to step forward and make the change, as some are doing in the third option above. Until then, we’ll just have to keep reminding them that we are better than this and can do better than the current situation.
Let them stay, drat it!!
To that end, there have been snap protests called…see if there’s one near you. If you’re in Canberra, there is a major protest going on at 11:15 tomorrow, after the verdict has been handed down, in front of High Court. If you can, come out and show the government that people care!