When my great-niece (in the UK) sends me links to articles in the (US) Huffington Post about the Australian Immigration Minister, maybe it’s time to worry that Australia is becoming a source of amazement and amusement around the world. The article, incidentally, was about the lack of proper provision of sanitary towels and tampons for women being held in refugee detention centres.
This follows stories about women being separated from their new babies, and babies dying because of a lack of a proper medical service. And about boats being towed back by the Australian Navy into Indonesian waters. And the abolition of the Immigration Health Advisory Group. And the termination of the contract with the Salvation Army to provide care to refugees in detention centres. The Nauru Government has recently increased the cost of a journalist’s visa to visit the detention centres from $200 to $8,000 ….. and I would hazard a guess this was at the urging of the Abbott Government.
Most of this we know only because other countries’ press has reported it, or “insiders” have tweeted it. Asylum seeker operations have been deemed of concern to national security and our Government no longer reports to the Australian people (or Parliament) on such matters.
The UNHCR is concerned that we are breaching international law but that doesn’t bother this lot. Last time they were in power, they refused an Australian visa to Mary Robinson (then head of the UNHCR) who wanted to visit Aboriginal communities here.
We have a Human Rights Commission in Australia and one would hope this would be of concern to them. It was once, but the Abbott Government has appointed one of the HRC’s fiercest critics as its new Commissioner – Tim Wilson, who previously worked for a very right-wing “think tank”.
One day enough information may be released that Australian children will learn about this dreadful time in Australia’s history ….. but the Abbott Government has appointed two (again extremely right-wing Liberal supporters) to re-write the school curriculum. The Education Minister hopes that the new curriculum will give more emphasis to “Christianity and the benefits of Western Civilisation”. So it’s unlikely that this will be on the school agenda any day soon.
The only good news here is that within 90 days of the election of Tony Abbott, the polls showed that the Labor Party was more popular. Which really shows what most people here thought at the time of the election – Australians didn’t vote for the Liberals, they voted against Labor, who had (to put it kindly) got themselves into a bit of a mess. The bad news is that it will be 2.5 years before we have another election.