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Sunday, May 29, 2016

What simple thief brags of his own attaint?

'What simple thief brags of his attaint?'

It's been more than 400 years since Shakespeare penned this question in his play, 'A Comedy of Errors'. However, it is a pertinent question that should be asked of Australia's Liberal Party.

This is a party that boasts of its attaint, boasts of its disgrace, boasts of its dishonour, boasts of its deplorable abuse of innocent people.

Perhaps the most obvious attaint is the Liberal Party's illegal treatment of asylum seekers. Former Prime Minister John Howard was quick to label asylum seekers as illegal, even though this wasn't true. A dip in the polls? Bust out another attack on asylum seekers, innocent victims of war and terrorism.

Yet the Liberal Party has, for the last 20 years, been victimising the victims. They've broken international laws(1) on torture(2), refugees (including detainment(3) and refoulement(4)) and children(5). Rather than listen to international condemnation, the Liberal government was so proud of their attaint that Abbott stated he was 'sick of being lectured to by the United Nations' about torturing people(6). This from a man who even donated Royal Australian Navy vessels to Sri Lanka(7) so that people fleeing the brutality of that state could be rounded up and imprisoned, tortured, disappeared.

Who are the illegals here?

The Liberal Party under John Howard, led Australia into the illegal invasion of Iraq based on lies. More than a decade later, this action has culminated in the rise of extremism and most notably, ISIS, in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Yet, Australia perpetuates the persecution of the victims of this war by imprisoning or refouling them when they seek our help.

The Libs are so proud of their attaint as they use it to boost their popularity and power. They've stolen the lives and futures of the victims for political advantage.

The demonisation and victimisation doesn't just stop with refugees. The Liberal Party is so proud of its attaint, that the Attorney-General defended the right to be bigots(8) and supported amendments to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow hate speech so that the bigots could 'offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate'.

This was no surprise of course, because in 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (Labor Party) issued an apology to the Stolen Generations for decades of abuse of indigenous people and the theft of their children at the hands of government. The Liberal Party's response? Some of their MPs boycotted it(9). Boycotted apologising for stealing children. Former Prime Minister Howard stated that Australia had nothing to be sorry for(10). No wonder some Liberals don't even believe the Stolen Generation existed(11). What an attaint to be proud of: the theft of generations of children.

More recently, the Liberal Party perpetuated its culture of bullying and victimisation by attacking the anti-bullying program 'Safe Schools' which is aimed at reducing the bullying of LGBTIQ students. Influential extremist MPs such as Cory Bernardi have made all sorts of wild claims, including homosexuality leading to bestiality or pedophilia. Rather than bringing these MPs into line, the Prime Minister has defended them. It's a bit rich of Bernardi and Christensen to claim they are only upholding Christian values while they condone the torture of refugees, including children.

Bullying: just one more of the Liberal Party's attaint.

The Liberal Party has been consistently attacking Islam and giving voice to the bigots and Islamophobes(12), with a corresponding rise in anti-Islamic political party's and groups, as well as a rise in violence against Muslims(13). Not surprisingly, a recent report has found that most Islamophobes vote for conservative parties, particularly the Liberal Party(14).

The Liberal Party's defense of Israel's illegal occupation and human rights abuses in Palestine is another attaint. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop even reinvented international law for the convenience of defending her party's position(15). Meanwhile, Israel continues the expansion of its illegal settlements in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, it continues using illegal weapons(16) on Palestinians, committing war crimes(17), and arbitrarily detains, punishes and tortures children(18). All with the support of the Liberal Party.

Perhaps the most surprising thing however, is that workers are so willing to vote for a party who consistently attacks workers rights. Howard tried to roll-out Work Choices which undermined the collective bargaining of the workforce and weakened penalty rates. Workers did reject this and voted Howard out of office on the basis of it. However, since then, Abbott and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have turned up the attacks on workers and their conditions. There was an $80 million royal commission into Union corruption which uncovered only a few instances of corruption(19). It was a political witch-hunt dressed up as protecting workers, when in fact it was used to discredit Unions in order to soften up workers for further attacks by the Liberal Party.

Meanwhile, successive budgets from the governing Liberal Party have maintained the attack on workers, the low-paid, the poor, while giving more money to the rich and big business(20).

And the Liberal Party continues to be proud of its attaint as it embraces the failed 'trickle-down economics' theory(21) which has only made the rich richer and the poor poorer. The Liberal Party consistently and blatantly attack the poor while defending the rich. They distract from this by running fear campaigns against asylum seekers and terrorism. Like snake-oil salesmen they try to sell the promise of untold wealth for all if we give our hard-earned to the already wealthy(22). And the people believe the lie.

What about climate change? Tony Abbott got so much mileage from accusing Julia Gillard of lying about introducing a carbon 'tax', that it arguably won him the 2013 election. Yet the lie was his. Gillard didn't introduce a carbon tax, she introduce a carbon pricing mechanism which she had stated she was going to do prior to the election(23). Abbott even attended a protest against the carbon price and proudly took centre stage with vulgar sexist signs behind him, stating 'Juliar - Bob Brown's Bitch' and 'Ditch the Witch'. This piece of blatant lying and sexism wasn't Abbott's attaint alone; he was accompanied by two female MPs, Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella. One would have thought that women would stand up against such abusive sexism against another woman, but no, they also were proud to be filmed in front of the offensive signs.

Is it any wonder, that then Prime Minister Julia Gillard eventually attacked then Opposition Leader Abbott's hypocrisy on sexism when she delivered one of Parliament's finest speeches in decades(24), declaring:

I say to the Leader of the Opposition I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever. The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror. That's what he needs

When elected to government, Abbott axed the 'tax' and introduced a 'Direct Action' policy which paid polluters to reduce carbon emissions rather than making them pay for their emissions(25). Essentially, the Libs want to reward polluters rather than penalise them. The government has a foot in both camps on climate change. It pays lip service to carbon reduction, but at its heart it doesn't really accept climate change. So much so, that it pressured the United Nations into removing Australia from a report on the impact of climate change because it might damage tourism to the country(26).

They're so proud of their attaint, they'd rather steal the future from our children than lose money.

The Liberal Party's modus operandi is to outlaw dissent, victimise the victims and denigrate anyone who dares criticise them. Case in point, is Gillian Triggs, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner. The Human Rights Commission is an independent body, but when Triggs released a report that exposed the extent and effects of the Government's abusive policies on children in detention. Rather than actually improve their policy so children aren't being harmed as a result of it, senior members of the government attacked Triggs and tried to force her to resign(27). Further to this, the government has made it illegal for whistleblowers to expose abuse in immigration detention centres with the threat of up two years in detention(28).

The government has reduced funding to non-government organisations who have interests contrary to government policy or who criticise it. They have cut back funding to the ABC and SBS, even though then Prime Minister Tony Abbott made a promise that there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS. Remember how Abbott worked the 'lie' from Gillard regarding the carbon 'tax', yet when Abbott lied to become Prime Minister that was fine(29). The Liberal Party has not been a fan of ABC or SBS because they tend to question government policies. It's as though the Liberals would rather run ABC and SBS like the Soviet Union ran TASS: namely as it's official mouthpiece.

The Liberal Party governing Australia is not one that is governing in the interests of Australians. It is employing some of the worst examples of despotic governments in order to control the population: persecution, torture, refoulement, imprisonment without charge, fear-mongering, racism and xenophobia, sexism, turning the people on each other, undermining democracy and free speech, amongst others.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this is that the Liberals are so proud of how they are abusing people, democracy and power.

What simple thief brags of his own attaint?

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, with MPs Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella, openly embracing the vitriolic sexism of anti-carbon price protesters(30)

Why did Shakespeare ask this question? It was part of a tirade from Luciana to her brother-in-law, Antipholus of Syracuse, in which she was berating him over his affection for her. She felt that 'tis doubly wrong to truant with your bed and let her read it in they looks at board'. In other words, it is bad enough having no morals, but even worse to rub one's turpitude in the face of those who are being wronged.

The Australian government's behaviour is no comedy of errors. It is cold, calculated, deliberate. All with one goal in mind: shore up political power.

Boasting of their baseness furthers the psychological abuse of the Liberal Party's victims and compounds the victimisation and demonisation. And we see the results of this in the depths of despair and hopelessness that has engulfed asylum seekers, in the self-harm and the suicides. These deaths and injuries are the direct result of abusive government policy and a government boasting of its torture, boasting of its attaint, sacrificing lives for political power.

Most miscreants at least pretend to live respectable lives. The Liberal Party flourishes in its debasement and expects the populace to still vote for them, to welcome them as the Saviours of the Land Down Under. They represent themselves as being the only ones who can keep the population safe from the bleeding hearts who would dare to treat people with respect and dignity, who would dare to help the victims of war and persecution, who would dare to speak up for the oppressed, who would dare to expect workers to be paid a living wage, who would dare to demand government provide essential services, who dare to hold government to account.

The more lives destroyed by the Liberal Party, the better for their popularity as they boast that they are tough on border security, tough on terrorism, tough on economics. They aren't being tough, they are being brutal.

Innocent people suffer as the Liberal Party brags of its attaint and brutality.


1. United Nations, 'Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees', Accessed 29 May 2016.

2. Human Rights Law Centre, 'UN finds Australia's treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture', 9 March 2015, Accessed 29 May 2016.

3. The Guardian, Ben Doherty, 'Australia's indefinite detention of refugees illegal, UN rules', 18 May 2016, Accessed 29 May 2016.

4. The Guardian, Richard Ackland, 'Handing back asylum seekers is called refoulement. And it's illegal', 7 July 2014, Accessed 29 May 2016.

5. The Guardian, Helen Davidson, 'Prolonged detention is 'state-sanctioned child abuse', says head of doctors' group', 21 February 2016, Accessed 29 May 2016.

6. The Age, Lisa Cox, 'Tony Abbott: Australians 'sick of being lectured to' by United Nations, after report finds anti-torture breach', 10 March 2015, Accessed 29 May 2016.

7. The Sydney Morning Herald, Ben Doherty, 'Tony Abbott's boats gift to Sri Lanka comes under fire', 18 November 2013, Accessed 29 May 2016.

8. ABC News, Emma Griffiths, 'George Brandis defends 'right to be a bigot' amid Government plan to amend Racial Discrimination Act', 24 March 2014, Accessed 29 May 2016.

9. The Age, Misha Schubert and Dewi Cooke, 'Outspoken Liberal MP defends apology boycott', 15 February 2008, Accessed 29 May 2016.

10. The Sydney Morning Herald, Anne Davies, 'Nothing to say sorry for: Howard', 12 March 2008, Accessed 29 May 2016.

11. The Australian, Samantha Maiden, 'Lib MP denies Stolen Generations exist', 13 February 2008, Accessed 29 May 2016.

12. The New Daily, John Stapleton, 'How Tony Abbott made Australia a more dangerous place', 7 October 2015, Accessed 29 May 2016.

13. ABC, The World Today, Eleanor Hall, 'Register documents rising violence against Muslim Women', 24 September 2014, Accessed 29 May 2016.

14. Huffington Post, Josh Butler, 'Australian Islamophobia Study Released', 4 April 2016, Accessed 29 May 2016.

15. The Sydney Morning Herald, Saeb Erekat, 'Julie Bishop reinvents international law in her support of Israeli settlements', 24 January 2014, Accessed 29 May 2016.

16. Middle East Monitor, 'Military Expert: Israel is using 3 internationally banned weapons in Gaza', 4 August 2014, Accessed 29 May 2016.

17. Al Jazeera, Megan O'Toole, ''Strong evidence' of Israeli war crimes in Gaza', 29 July 2015, Accessed 29 May 2016.

18. The Electronic Intifada, Nora Burrows-Friedman, 'Israelis Torturing Palestinian Children', 10 April 2007, Accessed 29 May 2016.

19. New Matilda, Dr Dustin Halse, 'Reflections on the TURC From a Union Official', 12 January 2016, Accessed 29 May 2016.

20. Independent Australia, John Passant, 'A budget of smoke and mirrors', 4 May 2016,,8950. Accessed 29 May 2016.

21. ABC, The Drum, Michael Bradley, 'We're being sold the trickle-down economics con', 12 May 2016, Accessed 29 May 2016.

22. Independent Australia, David Tyler, 'The Turnbull Show's nasty accident with reality', 16 May 2016,,8991. Accessed 29 May 2016.

23. The Courier Mail, Paul Syvret, 'Why Julia Gillard didn't lie about her carbon tax plans before election', 9 July 2012, Accessed 29 May 2016.

24. Parliament of Australia, 'House of Representatives - Hansard, 09 Oct 2012 - Motions - Julia Gillard MP',;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F5a0ebb6b-c6c8-4a92-ac13-219423c2048d%2F0039%22. Accessed 29 May 2016.

25. ABC News, Daniel Miller, 'What is the Coalition's direct action climate change policy?', 24 April 2014, Accessed 29 May 2016.

26. The Guardian, Michael Slezak, 'Australia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention', 27 May 2016, Accessed 29 May 2016.

27. The Age, Hugh de Kretser, 'Attacks on our Human Rights Commissioner are part of a broader malaise', 25 February 2015, Accessed 29 May 2016.

28. Sydney Morning Herald, Sarah Whyte, 'Doctors and teachers gagged under new immigration laws', 4 June 2015, Accessed 29 May 2016.

29. Parliament of Australia, 'Matters of Public Importance - Prime Minister', (Bill Shorten speech), 25 June 2015,;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2Fbcc6cf79-e37b-4f70-9a20-0ddc17522ca5%2F0187%22. Accessed 29 May 2016.

30. The Sydney Morning Herald, James Massola, 'Julia Gillard on the moment that should have killed Tony Abbott's career', 23 June 2015, Accessed 29 May 2016.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Australia's Lord of the Flies: fear, mob-rule and the killing of asylum seekers

Australia's Lord of the Flies: fear, mob-rule and the killing of asylum seekers

Dutton's denial and the blaming, shaming and abuse of asylum seekers

Following the second self-immolation by an asylum seeker in a week, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton immediately did what any caring, concerned Christian and political leader would do when someone is seriously injured within their purview: he blamed someone else.

In what would have to be one of the lowest, most cowardly and despicable acts by a politician, Dutton blamed refugee advocates and activists for encouraging asylum seekers to self-harm(1).

Dutton's monumentally contemptible press conference showed that many of us may have underestimated just how low this cold-blooded, power-crazed Fascist will stoop. 

Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton's reprehensible response to self-immolation of asylum seekers
Source: David Pope

Of course, none of us should be surprised.

Recently, I wrote about the similarity between the Stanford Prison Experiment and the behaviour of the Australian government, in which people who are given unlimited power will stop at nothing to humiliate and abuse defenceless people under their control.

But firstly, let's talk religion. Christian? Apparently, Dutton is a Christian. A traditional Christian. You know the sort. Those who traditionally ruled orphanages and institutions with an iron fist. Yes, the same ones who are now the subject of a Royal Commission into institutional Response to Child Abuse. Nothing says Christian like presiding over institutional abuse and victim shaming and blaming.

Back to Dutton's Christian credentials. In 2007, he was awarded a Wilberforce Award by The Australian Christian Values Institute 'for outstanding demonstrations by parliamentarians for protecting life, freedom, family and the foundational Christian values that under-gird these areas'(2). Yes, dutton is doing his best to protect life, freedom, family and foundational Christian values by indefinitely detaining men, women, children and babies, often with families split up into different detention centres.

Dutton has even darkened the door of a Hillsong Conference(3). Apparently, the parable of the Good Samaritan hasn't quite sunk into the the feckless Dutton. I'm sure there is something in the bible about not just being 'hearers of the word, but doers as well'. Oh well, I'm sure he doesn't want to be a do-gooder. Oh wait, doesn't the bible say that Christians are 'saved to DO GOOD works'? Bummer.

This could however, explain Dutton's reprehensible reaction to the numerous suicide attempts, the self-harm and the most recent self-immolations by people who are completely destroyed by the system that Dutton proudly presides over. Dutton's reaction? Blame someone else.

Dutton would appear to be suffering a little condition known as 'cognitive dissonance': the discomfort one feels when one's actions conflict with one's beliefs. So, IF (and it's a pretty big IF), Dutton is a Christian, then his behaviour and the policies of the government he is part of, are clearly contradictory to the teachings of Christ. You know, awkward stuff like:

Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Awkwarrrrrd ... seems there's a little spot of everlasting fire reserved for Mr Dutton. Speaking of fire, perhaps the self-immolations remind him of his own fate and why he feels it necessary to blame others. Cognitive Dissonance ... it's a bitch.

Or perhaps it is just that he is a heartless prick.

Let's not overthink this.  No, let's.

Many years ago I read a novel by William Golding called 'Lord of the Flies'. It followed the degeneration of some school boys stranded on an uninhabited island from innocent children to murderers. The boys split into two groups and set their own rules. Interestingly, it's the well-educated students who introduce a brutal regime that results in abuse, oppression and murder. Initially the boys become paranoid about a 'beast' inhabiting the island. Hmm ... introduce fear to control the masses. They use a conch shell to rally the troops. Hmm ... the Libs have been pretty good at dog-whistling lately.

One of the boys, Ralph, is their first leader. His off-sider is a boy named Piggy. At first, it's all beer and skittles for Ralph's leadership, but this is threatened by another boy, named Jack.

Another boy Jack, challenged Ralph's leadership by portraying him as a coward, while Jack portrayed himself as the strong leader. Not unlike what we see with the accusations from the Liberal Party that Labor is weak on 'border protection'. To shore up his popularity, Ralph begins bullying the weaker, Piggy; making him the scapegoat. Not unlike Dutton blaming refugee advocates for the self-harm incidents on Nauru and Manus Island. However, Ralph was somewhat more logical than many of the others (unlike Dutton), so when rumour spread of a 'beast' on the island, he challenged the logic behind it.

The boys split into the two rival groups with Jack as one leader and Ralph the other. Jack represented all that is evil in mankind when logic and rationality are ignored. While Ralph tried to appeal to logic, Jack embraced the darkness within his soul and criticised any rational thought (now where have we seen that lately, Mr Dutton?). Jack's group doesn't just work the fear to manipulate the boys, they embrace it as a means of satiating their own evil natures. The 'beast' becomes Jack's personal tool for cementing his leadership and control of the other boys.

Jack's group offers sacrifices to the beast and even impales a pig's head on a stick as a means of placating the beast. Anyone who dares criticise them is bullied and abused (oh, this the comparison to modern politics is too easy). Funnily enough, flies are attracted to the decapitated pig's head and said head becomes known as ... wait for it ... the Lord of the Flies.

The mob get whipped into a frenzy by ritual, fear and group-think, and kill one of the boys whom they mistake for the beast. Some of the boys are racked by guilt, others blame the victim. He shouldn't have been sneaking around in the dark where he could be mistaken for the beast, after all. Obviously the boys had projected their fears onto the victim, seen him as the beast and killed him.

Of course, in modern Australian politics, refugees have become the 'beast' that the government uses to scare the populace into submission and to shore up popularity. And it plays into the government's hands whenever refugees do something that doesn't match with 'Australian culture', such as rioting, self-harming or getting raped or murdered. Too bad that refugees are the victims in this situation. The government has done a masterful job of turning vulnerable, hurt people into those who should be feared. The government has turned them into a security issue requiring stringent border protection; parading them as the 'beast' so when they come 'sneaking' in the back door on a leaky boat, they have only themselves to blame as they're attacked, abused, killed.

Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton embracing the darkness

The government has fed the fear that permeates our society and to 'placate' it, has sacrificed the lives of asylum seekers through a brutal regime in which innocent people are tortured, babies imprisoned, children despondent with no hope for the future and people pushed to harm or kill themselves.

Dutton is just the latest politician to be responsible for this savagery. But there are others. Like Lord of the Flies, there is a mob responsible for creating and perpetuating this tragic and despotic regime, including Prime Minister Turnbull, former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Rather than blame those who criticise the brutality and are trying to protect the innocent, Dutton needs to take responsibility for the outcomes that he is delivering through his government's policy.

When Tony Abbott became Prime Minister in 2013, he puerilely stated that 'the adults were in charge'.

Adults? We see these 'adults' blaming others, failing to take responsibility, spreading fear, misinformation and blatant lies, while torturing, abusing and oppressing innocent people whose only 'crime' was asking Australia to protect them from torture, abuse and oppression.

'We did everything adults would do, what went wrong?' - William Golding, Lord of the Flies.

This government has no moral compass.

A government that drives people to self-harm and suicide is as guilty of their injuries and deaths as if they lit the match, tied the noose or pushed them off the roof.

Dutton, 'outstanding' Christian, and the others in his government don't worship the Lord of Lords, they worship the Lord of the Flies through the fear and brutality that resonates with the electorate and manifests in the form of votes.

Where will it end and how many lives will they destroy in their pursuit of power?

23 year old Iranian refugee, Omid, dies after set himself alight on Nauru, 26 April 2016.(4)

21 year old Somali refugee, Hodan, set herself on fire on Nauru, 3 May 2016 (5)

Related article

The Stanford Prison experiment and Australia's brutal immigration detention regime


1. The Guardian, Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, 'Peter dutton accuses refugee advocates of encouraging suicide on Nauru', 3 May 2016, Accessed 3 May 2016.

2. Australian Christian Values Institute, Wilburforce Awards 2007, Accessed 3 May 2016.

3. Crikey, Tom Cowie, 'The Power Index: religion, Hillsong's Houstons at #5', 25 September 2012, Accessed 3 May 2016.

4. The Guardian, Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, 'Refugee who set himself alight on Nauru dies in hospital', 29 April 2016, Accessed 3 May 2016.

5. The Guardian, Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, 'Somali refugee in critical condition after setting herself alight on Nauru', 3 May 2016, Accessed 3 May 2016.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Stanford Prison experiment & Australia's brutal immigration detention regime

The Stanford Prison experiment & Australia's brutal immigration detention regime

State-sanctioned human rights abuses in Australia

The Australian government's long-running off-shore program for detaining asylum seekers was plunged into chaos when the Papua New Guinea High Court ruled that the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was illegal because it violated the PNG Constitution. The PNG government subsequently announced that the Manus Island detention centre was to be closed, leaving the fate of the 900 or so men housed there undecided as the Australian government tried to shirk its responsibilities and refused to allow the men into the Australia.

PNG also stated that approximately half of the men held on Manus Island had been found to be genuine refugees and that they would be offered the opportunity to resettle in the country. However, they wouldn't be forced to stay. To date, only seven of the refugees have chosen PNG to settle in(1).

For a number of years, Australia has been using neighbouring countries, namely Papua New Guinea and Nauru, as its dumping ground for asylum seekers who arrived by boat in Australian waters. It arranged these through Memoranda of Understanding and 'aid' grants to the less developed nations.

Australia justifies its brutal off-shore program in the following ways:
  • labelling asylum seekers arriving by boat as 'illegal' or 'queue jumpers'
  • claiming that asylum seekers are being saved from drowning by deterring them coming to Australia by boat
  • that there is a flood of asylum seekers invading Australia
  • breaking the 'people smuggling' model
  • border protection
  • security from terrorism
None of these excuses are truthful nor do they excuse the brutality of Australia's actions.

First and foremost it must be remembered that asylum seekers are people who have fled persecution and war. Very few of these people are 'economic' refugees as some in the government try to portray. Most come from countries such as Burma, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Somalia. All countries with well documented histories of persecution or war.

Source: NT News

The asylum seekers are not illegal. If they were, why haven't they been charged with a crime? Not one has been charged for unlawfully entering Australia. Why? Because they have committed no crime. The terminology becomes confusing because the government updated Australian law to declare that asylum seekers arriving by boat without a valid visa are 'unlawful non-citizens'. However, this doesn't mean those arriving by boat have committed an offence. The government itself admits that boat arrivals have broken no law and states that 'although those who come to Australia by boat seeking Australia's protection are classified as 'unlawful non-citizens', they have a right to seek asylum under international law and not be penalised for their mode of entry'(2). This is because international law, i.e. Article 31(1) of the UN Refugee Convention(3) to which Australia is a signatory, states:

'The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence'.

The government's indefinite detention and refusal to accept genuine refugees is punitive and breaches international law. It specifically singles them out for arriving by boat and is aimed at punishing them accordingly.

As for them being queue jumpers? There is no queue. There is only an artificially created quota that the Australian government has mandated in order to suit its political agenda of harvesting votes from those who fear the foreigner. Again, even the government itself acknowledges there is no queue(2).

We are not saving asylum seekers from drowning by discouraging them coming to Australia by boat. Rather, they are trying dangerous crossings elsewhere in the world. There has been a significant increase in the number of refugees taking boats across the Mediterranean Sea with a subsequent increase in drownings there. It can be safely assumed that people who would have chosen Australia are now attempting the Mediterranean crossing at great risk to their lives. Typical of the conservative government, rather than solving the problem, they have merely shifted it elsewhere.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott's puerile dog-whistling slogan, 'Stop the Boats', was about policy not people. The government's concern is not for the people presenting themselves on our shores requesting our help, it is for shoring up votes.

The idea of border security and presenting asylum seekers as illegal or a security issue, resonates with many in the community who are happy to live under the pretence of a security blanket that a fascist state provides. And Australia's treatment and demonisation of asylum seekers is fascist. It imprisons indefinitely and without charge, it removes people from their homes and detains them, it sends people back to their countries of origin regardless of Australia's refoulement obligations. 

Border protection? Security? No self-respecting terrorist would attempt the dangerous journey by sea. Terrorists are usually either recruited from within a country or arrive through other migration or travel channels, as the 9/11 bombers did.

Following PNG's High Court decision on 26 April 2016, Australia's Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton stuck his head firmly in the sand and stated that the decision didn't bind the Australian government. What he didn't seem to understand was that the asylum seekers were Australia's problem as they had been sent there by Australia with the agreement that it was a temporary solution until Australia sourced other countries for them to go to. Gillian Triggs, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner, took to the media to explain why the detainees were clearly Australia's problem(4).

The issue was escalated the following day when Prime Minister Peter O'Neill declared that Manus Island detention centre was to be closed(5). Despicably, Australia then tried to persuade PNG to change its Constitution to accommodate the unlawful detention of asylum seekers. It also tried to bribe PNG with the promise of more money. The government has sold its soul. Nothing illustrates this better, than Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull callously stating 'let's not get misty eyed over this', in relation to Australia's barbaric immigration policy(6).

The Australian Labor Party is no better. Its leader, Bill Shorten, reiterated that the ALP was on a 'unity ticket' with the Liberal and National Party government in not allowing any genuine refugees to settle in Australia. Four Labor politicians have opposed their own party's policy, with former UN lawyer, Melissa Parke MP admirably stating 'We have caused them enough suffering already. This is a sick game and it needs to end'(7). Parke went on to state that 'these people have suffered enough under a system that was designed to brutalise them in the name of deterrence'(8).

Brutalising people, including children, in the name of deterrence. Let that sink in.

Photo: Drawing by child asylum seeker on Manus Island: 'My mum is crying and I am sad'.

The government's platitudes about the off-shore detention policy being for the benefit of saving the asylum seekers lives is a load of Orwellian garbage. If Australia was so concerned for the lives of asylum seekers, then why is it refusing an offer from New Zealand to resettle 150 of them(9)? Because New Zealand is too safe and is not a 'deterrence'. Australia would rather see refugees settled in a less developed country such as PNG or Cambodia; countries with their own poor human rights records. PNG is home to a number of Australian ex-patriots, yet how many of those live in the general community? Few, if any. Instead, they live in high-security compounds because of the violence in the community, yet Australia expects refugees, people who've already been persecuted and abused, who've been brutalised by their own country and by Australia, to live within the violence that permeates Papua New Guinean society.

The Australian government wants asylum seekers to suffer. It wants its treatment to be a deterrence, to be a punishment.

The Australian government is persecuting and abusing innocent people, people who've been charged with no crime but who are being imprisoned indefinitely. What sort of government jails babies, children and innocent people? This is what the Australian government is doing.

Following the PNG decision, Australia considered a number of options, including transferring the detainees to Christmas Island, Nauru or even making the Manus Island detention centre an 'open' facility similar to Nauru. Given the animosity of some of the Manus Island locals and the murder of Reza Barati there in 2014, this would surely have been a deadly option to pursue.

Australia's abuse of asylum seekers has drawn world-wide condemnation. The New York Times published a scathing article of Australia's brutal treatment of refugees(10). The lies and brutality of the off-shore program has gone beyond just mere populist politics to become a horrendous indictment of Australia's inhumanity toward its fellow humans.

Iranian asylum seeker, Hamid Kehazaei died when he developed septicaemia after cutting his foot on Manus Island. It was medical neglect that his injury was left untreated for an unacceptable period of time, becoming septic before he was finally airlifted to Australia where he died from the infection(11). The Australian government is responsible for the treatment of asylum seekers and responsible the neglect and abuse of them, responsible for their maltreatment and deaths.

Detainees on Nauru are treated no better. The Australian government ignored the pleas of medical experts to bring a rape victim to Australia for treatment and an abortion(12). What callous mind does this? The same sick and perverted mind who then falsely accuses the victim of refusing to accept an abortion. Documents released under a Freedom of Information request revealed that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton lied about the reasons the woman wasn't granted an abortion(13).

On Nauru, an Iranian refugee known as Omid was so desperate and despondent, that he set fire to himself. He died in Brisbane on 29 April 2016 from his injuries. He isn't the only asylum seeker to suicide or self-harm. Meanwhile, Nauru charges asylum seekers if they attempt suicide(14), making no allowance for the horrors and loss they've experienced or the empty future they face at the hands of a barbaric Australian government that is more interested in votes that compassion.

These are just some of the victims of Australian brutality. There are many other examples of abuse, including violent sexual assaults(15), that highlight the culture of systemic violence in detention centres, and the government's negligence and atrocities.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott even gave ex-Navy vessels to Sri Lanka so they could round up Tamils fleeing the savagery of the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka's human rights record is atrocious and the UN has accused it of significant war crimes(16). Yet Abbott was more than happy to facilitate these crimes and human rights abuses.

Each of these actions clearly demonstrates the turpitude of a morally bankrupt government.

Manus Island and Nauru have been described as Australia's Guantanamo Bay(17).

If Australia genuinely wants to save lives and break the people smuggling model, it would be working with countries in the region, such as Malaysia and Indonesia and encouraging them to become signatories to the Refugee Convention as well as looking at safer ways to bring asylum seekers into the country.

Australia used to be the first safe haven east of Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan. Now, Australia is as bad as the nations that asylum seekers are fleeing. This is nothing to be proud of.

An Amnesty International reported identified that Australian officials had apparently paid people smugglers to return asylum seekers to Indonesia(18). On one hand, Australia wants to break the 'people smuggler' model, but with the other pays $31,000 USD to people smugglers - a strange way to break a business model(19).

The UN warned Australia that boat push-backs breached the Refugee Convention(20). It also found that Australia is breaching international laws on torture(21) and is in violation of international laws on the rights of the child(22). Furthermore, Australia has been returning asylum seekers to their countries of origin when they have a well-founded fear of persecution. This is called refoulement and it also violates international law(23). Only Australia and the United States have challenged this and continue to refoule refugees to situations where they face arrest, persecution, death(24).

Article 33(1) of the UN Refugee Convention(3) states:

'No Contracting State shall expel or return ("refouler") a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion'.

Despicably, the Abbott government introduced the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014 in order to grant themselves the power to refoule by including the following clause:

197C Australia's non-refoulement obligations irrelevant to removal of unlawful non-citizens under Section 198(25).

It's not asylum seekers who are illegal, but the Australian Government.

Most Australians support the government's position on asylum seekers(26). Most believe that asylum seekers are 'illegal' and that there is a flood, even though both claims are manipulations and falshehoods promoted by the government. By end of 2013 (a period when boat arrivals were near their highest), asylum seeker boat arrivals accounted for 6% of Australia's population growth, compared to other migrant arrivals which accounted for 56% of Australia's population growth, while 38% was from Australian births(27).

Source: Costa A, New Matilda
If Australians are so concerned about the rule of law and the legality of seeking asylum then they should be concerned about their own government's illegal actions(28). Asylum seekers aren't abusing anyone's human rights, they aren't torturing people. They are the victims of persecution from their own country and Australia.

There needs to be a Royal Commission into Australia's brutal, inhumane and illegal treatment of refugees. These policies are not about keeping Australia safe but purely about abusing people for votes. Politicians such as former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who established the Manus Island detention centre, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who was the architect of the PNG Solution (where no refugee would resettle in Australia but would remain in PNG), former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, Prime Minister Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton should all face charges under Australian and international law for gross and deliberate human rights violations, for abuse and torture.

In 1971, the Stanford Prison experiment was conducted by Professor Philip Zimbardo in which he studied the psychological effects of prison life in a simulated prison(29). People were profiled to rule out anyone who had psychological issues. The remaining volunteers were assigned to be either guards or prisoners. Not long into the experiment, the guards made up their own rules and committed vile abuses against the prisoners, who either rebelled or degenerated physically and psychologically.

Australia's gulags are our own Stanford Prison. Our politicians are the prison guards and the asylum seekers are the prisoners. The government has made up its own rules, referred to prisoners (including children) by number rather than name, shaming and blaming the victims, used harassment, retribution and dehumanisation. The abuse and brutality being committed by the government is no different to the abuse and brutality that occurred in the Stanford Prison experiment and the effects on the prisoners mental and physical health is also comparable. The off-shore detention program is based on dehumanisation, fear and an insatiable lust for power and votes.

While the government has now released most children from detention, hundreds were detained for years. The terribly detrimental effects of this on children and their parents were well detailed in a 2014 review into children in detention(30).

Source: Getup
The Stanford Prison experiment recommended that prisons 'promote human values rather than destroy them'(29). Some 45 years later, Australia's politicians have learned nothing and are proudly destroying human values and lives for the sake of populist politics.

The government is doing this for one reason: votes. It is a sad truth that the policies behind the 'Stop the boats' mantra is popular with the Australian electorate. In fact, there is a tangible anger, even hatred, from many Australians towards those who they believe are queue-jumpers or not genuine refugees. Of course, Australia's concern for 'genuine' refugees is laregly non-existent given that half population of the Manus Island detention centre have already been assessed as being genuine refugees, yet most Australians don't want them in our country.

The reaction and behaviour of Australians towards the world's most persecuted people demonstrates the veracity of The Stanford Prison experiment and shows that many Australians would gladly fulfil the role of torturer as they fail to stand up against their own government's crimes against humanity.

Inimitable American author and social critic, Gore Vidal once observed, 'It is true, as Sartre once wrote, referring to French Army atrocities in Algeria, that the real tragedy in our time is that any of us can be, interchangeably, victim or torturer'.

How true this is for Australia.

History will eventually show this to be one of Australia's most disgraceful periods and its perpetrators, the politicians who've implemented and sanctioned it, will be viewed as despotic criminals. And the people who demanded and supported these policies? Will be seen as sheep, blindly manipulated by fear to support gross human rights abuses.

Related article

Australia's Lord of the Flies: fear, mob-rule and the killing of asylum seekers


1. ABC News, Francis Keany and Louise Yaxley, 'Manus Island detention: PNG responsible for asylum seekers, Peter Dutton says', 29 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

2. Parliament of Australia, Janet Phillips, 'Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?', 2 March 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

3. United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol adopted 28 July 1951 entered into force 22 April 1954, Accessed 30 April 2016.

4. ABC News, Fact Check, 'Is Australia responsible for asylum seekers detained on Manus Island?'28 February 2014, Accessed 30 April 2016.

5. BBC News, 'Papua New Guinea to shut Australia's Manus Island migrant camp', 27 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

6. ABC News, Anna Henderson and Stephanie Anderson, 'Manus Island detention: Malcolm Turnbull warns Australians against being 'misty-eyed' on immigration policy', 28 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

7. Sydney Morning Herald, James Massola, 'This is a sick game and it needs to end': Labor splits over asylum seekers', 28 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

8. Melissa Parke MP, Latest News, 'Asylum seekers should not be political pawns', 28 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

9. The Guardian, Helen Davidson, 'Turnbull rejects New Zealand offer to take 150 refugees from detention', 29 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

10. New York Times, The Editorial Board, 'Australia's Brutal Treatment of Migrants', 3 September 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

11. ABC News, Emma Pollard, 'Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei brain dead in Brisbane hospital: Refugee Action Coalition', 5 September 2014, Accessed 30 April 2016.

12. Sydney Morning Herald, Bianca Hall, 'Australia ignored its own medical experts' pleas to bring Nauru rape victim here', 28 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

13. SBS, Robert Burton-Bradley, 'Department's claim that raped refugee rejected abortion wrong, FOI reveals', 2 January 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

14. The Huffington Post, Josh Butler, 'Nauru refugee Omid Dies From Burns, As Two Reportedly Arrested For Suicide Attempts', 29 April 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

15. The Guardian, Paul Farrell, 'Not Seen, not heard, often not reported - the harrowing stories of Australia's detainees', 10 June 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

16. Sydney Morning Herald, Ben Doherty, 'Tony Abbott's gift to Sri Lanka comes under fire', 18 November 2013, Accessed 30 April 2016.

17. Sydney Morning Herald, David Isaacs, 'Nauru and Manus Island are Australia's Guantanamo Bay', 29 February 2016, Accessed 30 April 2016.

18. Amnesty International, 'Australia: Damning evidence of officials' involvement in transnational crime', 29 October 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

19. The Guardian, Claire Phipps, 'Did Australia pay people-smugglers to turn back asylum seekers?', 17 June 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

20. UN News Centre, 'Australia: UN agency concerned by reports that asylum-seeker boats forced back to Indonesia', 10 January 2014, Accessed 30 April 2016.

21. Human Rights Law Centre, 'UN finds Australia's treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture', 9 March 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

22. ABC News, Fact Check, 'Children in detention: Is Australia breaching international law?', 8 April 2014, Accessed 30 April 2016.

23. The Guardian, Richard Ackland, 'Handing back asylum seekers is called refoulement. And it's illegal', 7 July 2014, Accessed 30 April 2016.

24. Sydney Morning Herald, Jane McAdam, 'Our obligations still apply despite High Court win', 30 January 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

25. Australian Government, Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014, Accessed 30 April 2016.

26. ABC, The Drum, Peter Lewis, 'Voters say: punish asylum seekers, just don't give them our cash', 23 June 2015, Accessed 30 April 2016.

27. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Detention and Refugee Statistics - as of 29 February 2016 Accessed 1 May 2016.

28. SBS, Kerri Worthington, 'Does Australian asylum policy break international law?', Accessed 30 April 2016.

29. Stanford Prison Experiment, Accessed 1 May 2016.

30. Australian Human Rights Commission, 'The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention (2014)', Accessed 1 May 2016.