FRANK BRENNAN SJ. Malcolm Turnbull’s defence of Nauru.

This is Frank Brennan’s most recent post of Facebook.

When interviewed by Fran Kelly this morning, Malcolm Turnbull suggested it was a simple binary choice: strong border protection including the cruel, endless warehousing of proven refugees (including children) on places like Nauru OR deaths at sea.  It’s not a simple binary choice, and he knows it is not.  If the government’s priority were safety at sea they would be transparent with us in how they intercept boats and send the people back to Indonesia, being so concerned about the safety of those very people on the boats. But that’s not their main priority.   Their main priority and their main concern is stopping people coming to Indonesia and then leaving Indonesia heading to Australia seeking asylum.

There are three options: 1. Stopping and turning back the boats AND warehousing refugees on Nauru and Manus Island; 2. Stopping and turning back boats AND resettling the proven refugees on Nauru and Manus Island in a timely manner; and 3 NOT stopping and turning boats back.  Option 2 deserves consideration by our major political parties when they are satisfied that those on the boats are not fleeing persecution IN Indonesia and when they provide through UNHCR and IOM adequate processing and security IN Indonesia.  Government, the Opposition, and refugee advocates should do more work on Option 2.  By positing a choice only between Option 1 and Option 3, we are either positing the impossible objective of a hermetically sealed border or making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Fr Frank Brennan SJ
Professor of Law

Australian Catholic University

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4 Responses to FRANK BRENNAN SJ. Malcolm Turnbull’s defence of Nauru.

  1. Graham English says:

    Am I being a Pollyanna is suggesting we stop and turn back boats AND resettle the proven refugees from Nauru and Manus Island in Australia in a timely manner?

  2. I believe that some boats were sunk deliberately to make Australia pick up the refugees. I have also heard that Australia deliberately delayed reaching the refugees in the water and that some navy personnel were very upset about this. Does anyone know if the latter is true? It would make the concern about drowning even more cynical than the humbug we hear now.

  3. Jaquix says:

    I believe that these 98% proven genuine refugees on Manus and Nauru should be granted an immediate amnesty and settled in Australia. The others could go to Christmas Island. The amnesty removes a festering sore on Australia’s record , stops the unnecessary torture, is the only practical solution, and much better economics. Keep the “stop the boats” as a deterrent.

  4. Any movement on Option 2, Frank, or are you still arguing into a void?
    I’m a refugee advocate, and am willing to be pragmatic in order to get a decent outcome quickly, and before they all succumb to irreversible mental health trauma, but I’m not willing to give in to bullies and trash human rights values in the process. The danger with acceding a point to the bullies is they’ll see it as a weakness and renew their efforts.

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