Saturday 31st of July 2021

refugees' hope to die at sea dashed...
















Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has put paid to hopes the Tamil family being held on Christmas Island could be returned to Australia or resettled in another country.

Ms Andrews on Tuesday raised a “range of resettlement options” when asked about the family, who were taken from their home in Biloela and detained almost three years ago.

But the minister now insists she was making a general comment about refugees evacuated to Australia for medical reasons.


“I actually haven’t said that I’m investigating resettlement options for that family,” she told the Seven Network on Thursday.

“What I did say is that I was looking at investigating resettlement options in a range of circumstances.

“Let me be clear about what I said, it was a very general comment in relation to cohorts we have here in Australia that I’m on the record as saying that we will be working with.”

Three-year-old Tharnicaa is receiving treatment for a blood infection at Perth Children’s Hospital after being evacuated from the island with her mother Priya Murugappan earlier this week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday was quick to point out Ms Andrews was speaking generally after she raised resettlement in other countries.

The Biloela community and supporters of the family have campaigned for ministerial intervention to allow them to return home.

A series of court orders has prevented them from being deported to Sri Lanka.

But the government has not wavered after the family’s protection status was denied despite fears they may become targets for violence.


Priya, her husband Nades and their Australian-born daughters Tharnicaa and Kopika, 6, have been in detention since 2018.

Ms Andrews said allowing them to stay would undermine the government’s pledge to never permanently resettle illegal boat arrivals.

“It’s not a case of being mean, we are very strong as a government, and our policy, in relation to our border protection. These are long-standing policies,” Ms Andrews said.

“Quite frankly, I’m not going to have people die trying to come to Australia by sea on my watch.”

She said Australia Border Force, which manages the Christmas Island detention facility, had given assurances the family was “well accommodated”.

Supporters say staff refused to take Tharnicaa to hospital until Sunday despite her vomiting and having a high temperature since May 25.


-with AAP




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soaked in blood...



From Michael Pascoe


I am in blood

Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more,

Returning were as tedious as go o’er


There’s a touch of Macbeth in the Morrison government’s treatment of the Biloela family.

This far into the tragedy, into the waste and inhumanity of pursuing those two little girls and their parents, you might as well keep sticking it to them as to try to undo your wrong.

Having raided and terrorised the family, having incarcerated them for three years and three months, having blown scores of millions of dollars in the process, having earned the disgust of anyone who cares about such things, what’s to be gained by letting them go home to Bilo now

The damage has been done. May as well keep doing it.

Besides, it would humiliating for Karen Andrews’ colleagues if the new minister were to effectively indicate all that money and the theft of three years and three months of four people’s lives had been an unnecessary mistake, a monumental stuff up.

And whatever else happens, however much pain and suffering might be inflicted on Kopika and Tharnicaa, Priya and Nades, you don’t want to embarrass powerful, more-senior colleagues.

You can embarrass the whole nation with this treatment of people who have done nothing illegal, but don’t embarrass your tough-talking predecessor who spread falsehoods about the family

Priorities sorted.

At any one of many moments, a little simple humanity and common sense by one of several ministers using their discretion could have stopped this tragedy gaining Shakespearean proportions. It still could.

The sort of discretion that within hours can bail out an au pair who has the right connections. The sort of discretion routinely used in immigration matters.

But not for Kopika and Tharnicaa. The initial mess-up – the big 5am raid in a Queensland country town – had used too many resources, had attracted too much attention to be dropped. It would be embarrassing.

So stepped in blood …

Now Home Affairs Minister Andrews is left to embarrass herself, flip-flopping on any suggestion of showing compassion.

The vindictiveness of locking the family up on Christmas Island has been highlighted by the medical evacuation of Tharnicaa to Perth and her apparent lack of treatment on Christmas Island.

A little perspective: Christmas Island is 2600 kilometres from Perth, a flight of more than three-and-a-half hours.

Interning the family in the middle of nowhere has been about persecution, about isolating them from their supporters, about making their lives even harder. It has been inhumane.

And inevitably lurking in the wings of this production is the question of a little racism.

I’ll repeat a hypothetical I’ve posed before: If they were Katie and Tessa instead of Kopika and Tharnicaa, if they were the blonde and blue-eyed Australian-born children of, say, white former South African farmers who had legally sought refuge here, can you imagine the relevant Coalition ministers would have treated them like this, hounded them, persecuted them, spread falsehoods about them?

Somehow, I can’t imagine it.

But right now, today, a savvy minister could announce that while the government has been totally in the right all the way along, due to the particular circumstances of this case and a child’s health issues and especially the community’s support, the Commonwealth as an act of grace would let the family go home to Bilo.

And we’d all be better off, even the odd colleague and bureaucrat who might be briefly embarrassed.


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F4REE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW 123649942tt81t7577646431r16uwfw1!!!!!

scomo's dead heart...


By Alan Kohler


A cabinet minister rang me recently to complain about this column in The New Daily, and he opened the conversation with: “We have compassion! We have empathy!”

I had written, among other things, about the Morrison government’s lack of compassion and empathy in refusing to help Victorian businesses affected by the latest lockdown.

That refusal has since been modified, but within limits – to make sure nobody thinks for a moment that the government is entirely compassionate.


That conversation came back to me over the weekend as I read Justice Bernard Murphy’s judgment in the “robodebt” case, in which he approved the $1.2 billion settlement for people who had been pursued for automatically calculated welfare debts they did not owe.

He wrote the episode exposed “a shameful chapter in the administration of the Commonwealth social security system and a massive failure of public administration”.

Damnable indifference

The most damning part of his judgment, in my view, is where the judge pointed out the government maintained the scheme in the face of 29 decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal rejecting its methodology.

Said Justice Murphy: “The financial hardship and distress caused to so many people could have been avoided had the Commonwealth paid heed to the AAT decisions.”

The minister for social services who introduced the robodebt scheme in July 2015 was Scott Morrison.

He went on to become Treasurer in September of that year and was succeeded by Christian Porter.

It was those two men who ignored the 29 AAT decisions.

And that conversation with a cabinet minister also came to mind as I read yet another story about the Tamil family from Bileola incarcerated on Christmas Island for four years, including a fortnight during which the four-year old child, Tharnicaa, was dangerously ill, undiagnosed and untreated.


The Murugappan family from Bileola is the latest hapless emblem of the border policy established by Mr Morrison when he was immigration minister in the Abbott government in 2013-14 and carried on by a succession of others (no one who arrives by boat gets to stay, refugees or not).

The Prime Minister has been stoutly defending the detention of the Murugappans, as has a loyal conga line of ministers, but Coalition MPs are now starting to express discomfort about it, so the family will probably soon be back in Bileola, and the defence of their detention will join robodebt and “no more JobKeeper” in the bin.

It all makes me wonder what happened to “compassionate conservatism”.

The phrase was invented 20 years ago when George W Bush made it a slogan of his 2000 presidential election campaign and became a core part of Mr Morrison’s political marketing 15 years later.

Mr Bush had written the foreword to a seminal book, published in 2000, by Dr Marvin Olasky called Compassionate Conservatism: What it is, What it Does, and How it Can Transform America.

Not to John Howard’s liking

As president, he forgot about it after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as he and Dick Cheney went with decidedly non-compassionate conservatism in the disastrous War on Terror, but British PM David Cameron picked it up and in 2006 he made it a cornerstone of Tory philosophy.

But while the idea of compassionate conservatism was central to the political discourse in the US and UK during those years, it was not central for the Australian PM at the time, John Howard.

In his memoir, Mr Howard writes affectionately about the humanity and self-deprecation of George W, but doesn’t mention his “compassionate conservatism” … in fact the phrase doesn’t appear in the book at all, and I can’t find any evidence that it ever passed his lips.

Ten years later, Mr Morrison discovered it, and started talking about compassionate conservatism when he was minister for social security in July 2015, as he was introducing the robodebt scheme.

He also redefined it. In a speech to the Institute of Public Affairs that month, he said: “The right to a job, a fair wage, a minimum standard of living, shelter, public education, universal health care does not simply come into existence by noble proclamation.

“To achieve social justice requires a plan, not a placard. This is what compassionate conservatism is all about.”

He ended that speech ringingly: “So in conclusion, our compassionate conservative view of a future positive welfare system is one that is more effective, more restorative, more reliable, more sustainable, more accountable, more innovative, more engaging, more flexible, better targeted and ultimately lesser populated as a proportion of our overall population.”

So Mr Morrison’s definition of “compassionate” is like the use of the word “democratic” in the full titles of East Germany and North Korea. It certainly doesn’t mean “kind”.

This torture of the word ‘compassion’ led him to introduce the disastrous robodebt, while his stubbornness resulted in the ignoring of 29 AAT decisions that went against him.

David Cameron’s definition in 2006 was similar but subtly different, and could not have produced the inhumanity of robodebt: “We have begun to show what we mean by modern, compassionate conservatism. It is based on two principles: Trusting people and sharing responsibility.”

Trusting people doesn’t seem to be what Australian conservatism is about.


Alan Kohler writes twice a week for The New Daily. He is also editor in chief of Eureka Report and finance presenter on ABC news...




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Note: as long as Julian Assange remains in a UK prison, our shameful governments show as much compassion and justice as a dead rock on the moon... And it's not going to change unless we throw them out like yesterday's soiled nappy...