It’s time voters sent a message to politicians that boat turnbacks and the punitive treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers need not be a feature of the upcoming federal election, writes Fr Frank Brennan SJ. Source: Eureka Street.
The overwhelming majority of our politicians and the overwhelming majority of voters agree that the boats from Indonesia carrying asylum-seekers should be stopped, and the refugees and asylum-seekers who have been languishing on Nauru and Manus Island should be treated decently and humanely. The disagreement is over whether after five and more years of aimless waiting and suspension, all those who are sick can be given appropriate medical attention either on site or in Australia.
A recent swathe of court cases demonstrates that when the decision whether to conduct a medical evacuation is left to Peter Dutton’s public servants, the decision cannot always be classed as decent and humane. A narrow majority of our politicians thought it was time to insist that such medical decisions always be decent and humane. They remain insistent that the boats remain stopped, with turnbacks in place.
It’s no surprise that after more than five years living precariously and on hold, refugees and asylum-seekers who are still Australia’s responsibility develop physical and psychiatric conditions that need to be treated here.
Just as we have depoliticised safe turnbacks, we must now depoliticise appropriate medical treatment by competent decision makers. Listening to Messrs Morrison, Dutton and Pyne this past week, one could be forgiven for thinking it was no longer possible to stop the boats while treating everyone decently and humanely.
To form government in Australia today, you need to be able to stop the boats safely, lawfully, and effectively, while treating everyone, especially the sick, humanely and decently. If you can’t do that, you don’t deserve to be in government.
A new standard for asylum seeker policy (Eureka Street)