Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Today by Sean Kelly

The developing situation on Manus Island is terrifying

Supplied by ABC News

A short note on a big story.

A genuine crisis is unfolding today on Manus Island. The Australian detention centre was due to close today. Peter Dutton has conceded that is unlikely. Instead, refugees have been repairing the barbed wire that surrounds the centre. That is because they are barricading themselves in.

The 600 men – and remember these are people with some experience of fear – are afraid: on one hand, of the possibility that Papua New Guinea paramilitary troops will use force to remove them and, on the other, of locals, who are reportedly threatening to arm themselves because they do not want the men moved into the community. Already there are claims of locals looting the centre. These refugees and asylum seekers are afraid of staying where they are, and afraid of moving. What are they to do?

That situation is terrifying. Add to it the fact that the centre’s supplies of water and food are about to be cut off, its electricity shut down. The PNG government is refusing to force refugees to settle – and fair enough – and is saying to Australia that if they won’t settle here then they’re your problem. Australia, as usual, just wants it all to be over, but is unwilling to actually do anything to make that happen. Each country points at the other, denying responsibility.

That is the fast-building crisis. In the category of slow-moving disasters fits today’s appalling revelations about the desperately poor quality of healthcare on Nauru. BuzzFeed has spoken to Dr Nick Martin, former senior medical officer in Australia’s detention centre there. Martin has served in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and the Balkans. He says, “The people I saw in Nauru, and the state they were in after being locked up there for three or four years, to me was in a way more traumatic than anything I’d seen in Afghanistan.” You can watch him speak here.

I could recommend inquiries, and a shake-out of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, or even a royal commission – and all would be good things – but the truth is there was already a Senate inquiry this year, and its damning findings didn’t change very much. There is now one urgent priority, which is to get the people still stuck on both these islands out of there. The American deal is taking far too long to complete; it must be expedited. If it cannot be, then the government should listen to its own MP, Russell Broadbent, who last month said the remaining refugees should be taken to New Zealand, which long ago offered to accept them. It seems hugely unlikely that such a solution will restart the people-smuggling trade. There is no reason not to do it.

The government can fix this situation. It is choosing not to. Meanwhile, the threat of violence grows. 

In other news



Ghosts in the machine

Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’ is maddeningly close to a classic

Shane Danielsen

Thirty years have passed since the events of the first film. The Tyrell Corporation is gone, bankrupted after its Nexus 8 replicants went rogue, and a new entrepreneur, blind tycoon Niander Wallace (a slightly hammy Jared Leto), is overseeing the deployment of Nexus 9 ‘skinjobs’, more capable and also more obedient than their predecessors. One of these is K (Ryan Gosling) – a blade runner himself, charged with tracking down and ‘retiring’ earlier-model replicants for the LAPD. The film opens with one of these assignments, and it’s a veritable masterclass in sustained tension and sudden, kinetic release.” read on


The Monthly music wrap: October 2017

The intriguing Tetsuya Umeda, a marriage-equality mixtape, new releases from raven and Kelela, and Burial’s ‘Untrue’ ten years on

Anwen Crawford

“I think it can be easy to overlook, particularly online, the differences of economic scale and the degree of community attachment that distinguishes the big corporate labels from the small, independent ones. If the recorded output of all these labels is equally available to stream or buy, then who cares who releases it? But losing the small labels would be like losing the insects from our world (and apparently we are, at an alarming rate). They’re the ones who do the creative pollination, place by place, that allows everything and everyone else to go on functioning. It’s small labels that support the kind of artists who keep community radio stations on air and little venues lively. Perhaps, on occasion, one of those labels, or the artists they release, bursts into such noisy flower that the rest of the world notices, too. That can happen, but it scarcely matters if it doesn’t. Not everyone wants to be a millionaire.” READ ON

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and was an adviser to Labor prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.



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