Monday, 20th January 2014


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

"Nauru's justice system has been thrown into chaos after its chief justice and only magistrate - both Australian citizens - were barred from the country. On Sunday morning, Nauru's president Baron Waqa fired resident magistrate and supreme court registrar Peter Law."

Water flows back to farmers after Coalition reverses Murray-Darling buybacks

"Water will be sold back to farmers on the Murray-Darling river system in a controversial decision to sacrifice some of the federal government's vast reserves after a $3 billion spending splurge on irrigation rights. Setting up a new flashpoint in environmental policy, the Abbott government has backed the sale of millions of litres to farmers and irrigators in a tender to be unveiled today to raise cash."

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

Attention seeker has had his last chance

"Senator Bernardi appears to deliberately choose his language in order to (get) attention. While I think it is stupid and juvenile to do so he is entitled to choose that path. He is, of course, preaching only to the converted. He is revving up his supporters. He is not converting anyone."

Abbott heads to Davos for WEF meeting

"Prime Minister Tony Abbott is on his way to the World Economic Forum meeting in Switzerland, where he wants to 'showcase' his government's reform agenda. But as Mr Abbott was departing, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten marked his 100 days as ALP leader with a series of interviews in which he questioned the government's ability to protect Australian jobs. Mr Shorten predicted Mr Abbott could be a one-time prime minister."

A chook raffle for a navy lost at sea

"We are constantly being told that our defence forces are underfunded but this is ridiculous. It now looks as if we will have to run a few chook raffles to fund the purchase of a compass and set of charts for the Royal Australian Navy or at least a sextant and an astrolabe to tide them over until they can afford a proper GPS."