Monday, 20th January 2014

BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE NAURU

Hello readers, and welcome back to PoliticOz. 

Those not paying close attention to Australian politics over the past weeks (you would be forgiven) may not be surprised to learn that the collateral damage from Australia's hardline asylum seeker policy has continued to spread.

Immigration Scott Morrison has been pointing to the ostensible success of the Coalition's suite of policies to 'stop the boats': numbers of arrivals have been reduced radically, continuing the trend which started with Rudd's severe pre-election policy prescription. But what neither Morrison nor anyone from the Coalition will acknowledge is the trail of damage left in the policy's wake.

The navy's reputation has been soiled as a result of its "inadvertent" multiple breaches of Indonesian sovereignty, while in the act of doing the very thing that Indonesia warned Australia against doing – forcing back boats. The relationship with Indonesia is once again suffering, unsurprisingly. As is Australia's human rights record.

In Nauru, authorities recently increased the cost of visas for journalists from $200 to $8000 in order, it seems, to prevent coverage of detention operations there. 

Having shut down media scrutiny, the Nauruan government has in the past 24 hours upended its entire legal system. The matter appears unrelated to Nauru's 'hosting' of asylum seekers: Nauru's president Baron Waqa fired its chief justice and only magistrate - both Australians - and forced them from the country on the eve of two cases relating to the deportation of "prohibited immigrants" (other Australians unrelated to asylum seekers). 

But the media's lack of access to Nauru makes it difficult to hold any party to public account, or even to sort through the various threads of the matter. In the meantime, one impact is that dozens of asylum seeker-related legal cases have been thrown into limbo. 

The Australian government's responsibility for the lives and rights of the asylum seekers it placed on Nauru, and the broader consequences on Nauruan politics, should also be scrutinised.

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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Nauru expels Australian magistrate Peter Law, bars chief justice Geoffrey Eames from returning to country

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AlsoMurray-Darling water licences to be sold back to farmers after years of environmental buy-backs (ABC)

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