Scott Almighty

The claims for more 30,000 asylum seekers and children will not be processed until a controversial temporary visa is allowed through the Senate, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has told an inquiry.

During a sometimes fiery hearing of the Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in detention, Mr Morrison said the asylum seekers would not have their asylum claims processed until he could offer a “visa product” that only offered temporary residency. The group includes more than 712 children and who arrived to Australia after July 19 last year.

Mr Morrison acknowledged the extended time children were spending in detention, but blamed the Labor Party and the Greens for not allowing the temporary protection visas (TVPs) into the Senate.

Scott Morrison is a religious man. Most mornings he wakes up believing he is God. Only more powerful. And smarter. He’s not alone in this. Others in Federal Cabinet seem similarly deluded. It’s almost a prerequisite for office.  Yet no other clever-dick Liberal comes close to Scott, the abominable boatman for arrogance, pig-ignorance and inhumanity. Not a nautical mile. 

Morrison plumbed new depths in his appearance before the AHRC (Australian Human Rights Commission), National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention hearing in Canberra last week.

Clearly pumped to appear before a big audience, his overweening ego stoked by the formality of the proceedings, Morrison outdid himself in hitting new lows in accountability, irresponsibility and unseemly behaviour. It was an alarming performance even for a Minister of the Abbott government. Morrison’s conduct did grave disservice to all asylum seekers and their children in his care, the hearing, the Australian Public.  

Any reasonable, decent human being called before the hearing would have shown due deference and respect. Not Scott Morrison. He likes to set his own rules. Rather than assist the hearing, his function in being there, he sets out instead to show AHRC President, Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs who is boss. Interrupting, cavilling, talking over the top of her. Impoverished, morally, intellectually and in every other way, his performance was a disgraceful display of politicking, evasion and self-aggrandisement. 

The lowest point was when Triggs was subjected to Secretary Martin Bowles twitting her as to whether detention centre guards carried arms. Morrison chimed in. Their clear intent was to discredit Triggs. They succeeded in making themselves into petty point scoring bullies.

It’s not my fault, is Morrison’s key defence. Bizarrely, he blames his keeping children of asylum seekers in detention on The Labor Party and The Greens for blocking legislation in the Senate. His political enemies are blocking temporary protection visas. And as only Morrison could, he adds a cunning twist of coercion. Children under ten might get out when Labor and the Greens come to their senses.

… they could be living in the community on temporary protection visas with work rights and parity of benefits today. The reason they are not is because of the Labor Party and the Greens who blocked that measure in the Senate.

It is a painful spectacle. Morrison is embarrassing, boorish and completely out of order. A bully. Once again, you find yourself wondering, has this man no standards? No sense at all of propriety and decorum?   No shame? No empathy, compassion, decency or even self-awareness.

It hurts to witness this man who was elected to represent us. And if his behaviour is excoriating, even more punishing is his logic. Morrison takes no prisoners as he blasts all within earshot with his own contorted blend of special pleading, posturing, tortured logic, wilful evasion and deception.  As we have come to expect, he needs to talk about himself. Warn us he is no push over. It’s all about him.

Morrison wants us to know he is a parent. It does not make him a soft touch. Parenthood may bring emotional challenges yet it doesn’t stop him doing his duty:

As parent of two young children, the emotional challenges of working in this portfolio are just as real and just as great as they would be for any other parent in my position. But sentiment cannot be indulged at the expense of effective policy that is saving lives and ending the chaos and tragedy that was occurring that many thought could never be turned around and that is my duty.

The Minister of Immigration and Border Security wants us to see him as an emotionally challenged parent who cannot afford to be sentimental if he is to do his duty. Morrison’s understanding of the word duty in this usage is limited. Tellingly Morrison excludes any duty of care or understanding of his duty to respect the human rights of incarcerated children. What he is saying is akin to the Nuremburg defence. His duty is to follow orders. The electoral mandate. Abbott’s trite slogan. The Australian people have voted to stop the boats. Toughen up. Can’t feel empathy. That’s just sentimental indulgence. Besides, anyone can see, cruelty and inhumanity are a real deterrence.

Besides, the real suffering is borne stoically by Minister Morrison and his staff. Morrison blows us out of the water with a sentimental indulgence of his own: 

After becoming a Minister I have sat with the men and women who work as part of our border protection command, who have to deal with the horrible legacy of looking into the face of a child corpse in the water.

Morrison has got the spotlight where he believes it belongs. Back on himself. When Triggs correctly tries to refocus back on the children in detention, Morrison picks a fight over terms. A place of detention is not to his way of thinking, a prison. To prove it he wants to challenge Triggs to a quibble

“Madam President, I’ve just asked you, you’ve said that these places are prisons, now you’ve been in prisons, so you’re telling me that the Phosphate Hill Compound on Christmas Island is the same as Long Bay Gaol?”

Stop the boats? Stop the bullshit, Morrison. You are in charge of detention camps. You know what you are doing. Border Security is a new term, a newspeak term for cruelty and inhumanity no matter how grandiose it may sound to your ears. You run internment camps which are prisons for men, women and children who have been charged with no offence. Guilty of no crime. Desperately fleeing persecution, they find themselves held hostage to your whim.  Many play a waiting game in 42 degree heat.

 Thousands of men, women and children are clearly suffering physically and psychologically from the conditions of prolonged detention. Many have been detained for over a year. No wonder so many attempt self-harm or attempt to kill themselves. Yet you want to pretend they are not prisons.

Immigration Detention Centres are brutal places, overcrowded and badly run, living hell for those trapped in them yet you are keen to keep them that way. Content to let the children suffer. Why? Because Labor and The Greens will not support your TPV? No. You could release those children tomorrow if you had the will. You prefer to hold them hostage.

Why do you refuse to exercise compassion? Because you can’t afford to get sentimental? Spare us. Because you have to do your duty? Snap out of it. Your duty is to respect human rights. Australia’s mandatory detention policy sets us apart from any other country that signs the United Nations Conventions – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In your tiny moral and intellectual universe, you may have convinced yourself that indefinite detention in extreme hardship is an effective and acceptable deterrent. To the rest of the world it looks like a monstrous abuse of human rights.   

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