The Immigration Department has delivered a scathing assessment of its own detention facility on Manus Island. In an unusual submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it listed unreliable and unsafe power, tents degrading in the humidity, limited potable water and the lack of protection from the elements as issues that could lead to substantial increases in physical and mental health problems, not to mention increased security costs. Even the centre's basic function – processing asylum seekers' claims – is compromised.
Meanwhile, in Broadmeadows, a hunger strike by 27 asylum seekers stretches into its second week. These men have all been found to be refugees, but are still in detention after 3 years due to adverse security assessments which are secret and not subject to any appeal process.
This week, Julia Gillard announced that Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who risked his own life in World War II to save thousands of Hungarian Jewish refugees by issuing them Swedish travel papers, will be made an honorary Australian citizen. She said that Australia was "honored to have survivors he rescued living in Australia today." Tony Abbott supported the decision.
"What is so striking about Wallenberg's humanity," writes Michael Gawenda, "is that he was able, he was compelled perhaps, to risk his life to save ‘the stranger’, people with whom he had next to nothing in common."
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Nick Feik Politicoz Editor
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“Sometimes something happens that is relatively small beer in terms of news coverage, but it needs to be examined ... Raoul Wallenberg will become an honorary Australian citizen in a couple of weeks’ time. Nothing about the way this government or the opposition treats asylum seeks suggests that Wallenberg’s legacy has affected Gillard or Abbott in any consequential way.”