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Shorten siding with Scott Morrison over Manus is more than a capitulation, it should serve as a reminder to all of us.
Bill Shorten, seemingly looking for an excuse to prove that the ALP is pretty much running the same racquet as the LNP, has executed a backflip so perfect, it’s surprising he hasn’t been offered a spot on the Australian Olympic gymnastics team. Buckling to pressure from the Morrison government, Shorten has reversed his position on the medical transfer bill, seeking now to increase the Home Affairs Minister’s discretion in refusing medical transfers, among other things.
This bill, it must be recalled, is designed to bring refugee medical transfers from Manus and Nauru, who are essentially being left to rot and toil in an island prison. It must also be remembered that Peter Dutton is the Home Affairs Minister. Dutton is the man Shorten apparently wants to have more discretion than he already has to refuse medical treatment to sick and injured refugees. Let’s hope, then, that most of them have “au pair” as a career choice.
“I don’t want to see the politics get in the way of a good solution here,” Independent MP Dr Kerryn Phelps said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“What we’ve been seeing is a lot of discussion about the politics. And what we need to bring this back to is that this is about the lives of real human beings. We have a detention system that is inhumane, it’s cruel, it lacks accountability and it’s enormously expensive.”
In fact, Shorten wants to keep the same structure as the Morrison government, with separate ministers for Home Affairs and Immigration, as well as Attorney General, despite opposition within his party. Shorten is showing us that he doesn’t really plan to mix things up a whole lot, even if he is elected. By doing what he’s doing, he’s playing into the hands of the Morrison government, and allowing the delay of a very important bill. He is essentially handing a major legislative win to Morrison.
More than that, it appears as if he just doesn’t care about the people languishing on Nauru and Manus. After the very public stories of refugees that have graced our media as of late (Hakeem Al-Araibi is to be set free, with the extradition charges dropped, by the way) it seems that, once again, Canberra has only use for them as political footballs. They clearly don’t seem them as human beings—a sick and scared people who need help who are harming and killing themselves just so someone will notice that they are alive. If our country’s leaders saw them as people, it wouldn’t be apparently acceptable to print a wildly racist cartoon about refugees wanting to rape nurses.
The ALP is supposed to care about these people.
They’ve just proven that they don’t.