Monday, September 3, 2018

Today by Paddy Manning

Kids off Nauru
How long is this inhumane policy going to continue?

Image courtesy of World Vision Australia

It is immoral for Australia to punish kids to send a message to people smugglers … end of story. Today’s release of a joint report from the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre outlines the impact of up to six years of being stranded indefinitely on Nauru on an estimated 109 children: it’s an indictment of an uncaring nation. The federal government is spending an absolute fortune to wreck the lives of asylum seekers, to somehow make an example of them.

“Children as young as 7 and 12 are experiencing repeated incidents of suicide attempts, dousing themselves in petrol and becoming catatonic,” the report reads. Instead of garnering sympathy or support, today’s report was greeted by more victim-blaming. The president of Nauru, Baron Waqa, was quoted in today’s Australian saying [$] that children were being encouraged to self-harm to improve their chances of resettlement. “We tend to think … these kids are pushed into doing something they’re not aware of, and the dangers of … It’s the way of working the system, probably short-circuiting it, just to get to Australia.” It’s like the children overboard saga all over again, and, with both major parties in apparent lock step on the issue, there is no hope in sight.

The report calls on Australia to resettle the children here without delay. The Refugee Council’s Joyce Chia this morning told RN Breakfast host Fran Kelly that while the US resettlement process was the best hope for those remaining on Nauru, there were fears among Iranian refugees that “extreme vetting” would leave them stranded. With every such rejection, the resettlement options dwindle and the crisis gets deeper and longer.

Prime minister and former immigration minister Scott Morrison has already insisted that there will be no softening of Australia’s tough border protection policies. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, who will attend the Pacific Islands Forum on Nauru today, is reportedly not going to visit the regional processing centre that Australia maintains there. A Guardian investigation today looks at the high price of Australia’s support for Nauru, a nation in “democratic freefall”. As Laura Tingle observed on the ABC’s Insiders yesterday, and as Gary Nunn suggested on Saturday, this diabolical offshore detention policy is even complicating Australia’s ability to go into bat for documentary maker James Ricketson, charged with espionage in Cambodia.

We know where the Coalition stands; Labor is not offering much hope either. Shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann, who has been rightly vocal about Dutton’s au pair scandals, has not responded to the Refugee Council report today. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, also on RN Breakfast this morning, raised the plight of the children in detention on Nauru and lambasted Peter Dutton for a “complete lack of compassion”, but stopped short of the solution: bringing those kids to safety, here, right now. At least Neumann has written to Dutton urging the government to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 asylum seekers. One Iranian asylum seeker, mother of the child pictured, told [$] The Australian she saw New Zealand as her family’s “last chance” to find a new home and appealed to prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

With every far-right outburst, here and overseas, comes increasing fear that an act of compassion would cause a racist backlash.

Yesterday we saw an attempted suicide and riots at the Yongah Hill immigration detention centre in Perth. Today, we hear reports of fears [$] for the health of a baby and her mother in detention in Melbourne. The system is cracking under the weight of its own cruelty. Even for the many people who support offshore detention, and turnbacks, as both major parties do, it is surely impossible to defend the continued harm to children. Is the Australian population so scared of a few refugee boats arriving, that we have to continue to destroy innocent lives? Is the government willing to risk harming these children for the sake of maintaining its tough-on-boats stance?


Lifeline 13 11 14

since this morning

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged that he has an “open mind” about a possible royal commission into the energy sector.

The race to replace Malcolm Turnbull in parliament has widened to include two more candidates, as Christine Forster, the City of Sydney councillor and sister of former prime minister Tony Abbott, withdraws.


A leak to the Herald Sun reveals [$] that Malcolm Turnbull personally approved a massive $7.6 billion roads and rail package aimed at saving marginal seats across the country as part of his re-election blueprint.

The Australian reports [$] that the grant of almost half a billion dollars to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation was more than double the recommended amount, and was handed over as a single payment against the advice of the Department of Finance.

Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to Donald Trump, has told Four Corners that Australia’s approach to China is “weak”. Meanwhile, China has blocked the ABC’s website.

In a major speech to be delivered today, Greens leader Richard Di Natale will promise to work with a new Labor government to get action on climate change back on track, The Guardian reports.

In Fairfax Media, Ross Gittins writes: “You don’t have to be very bright to see that as we enter the information age, realise decisions need to be evidence-based, and glimpse the huge potential of ‘big data’, we need the Australian Bureau of Statistics to be at the top of its game.”

by Richard Denniss
Labor’s great big new tax plan
Bill Shorten wants to reframe how we tackle the budget

by Mungo MacCallum
Tony Abbott: from backbench rebel to backbench envoy on Indigenous affairs
This Clayton’s appointment has already come unstuck

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?

The Monthly Today logo

In-depth analysis of the moments that define the day from Paddy Manning.
Free to your inbox every afternoon.


The Monthly Today

A stadium’s last stand

Arrogance. Vandalism. Victory. It’s the NSW disease

Ardern confirms gun law reforms

With the world watching, NZ’s PM shows how it’s done

Unpopulation policy

The PM’s efforts are too little too late

Christchurch and the media

A more diverse mainstream media wouldn’t platform so much hate

From the front page

A stadium’s last stand

Arrogance. Vandalism. Victory. It’s the NSW disease

Image of ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

Making the private public: ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

This new history traces how the decade’s redefined politics shaped modern Australia

Image from ‘Destroyer’

Hell hath no fury: Karyn Kusama’s ‘Destroyer’

Nicole Kidman confronts in this LA crime thriller

‘Exploded View’ by Carrie Tiffany

This new novel is most striking in how it diverges from its predecessors