FRANK BRENNAN SJ. Refugees – John Howard could do it. Why not Malcolm Turnbull?


My quandary remains: if John Howard was able to keep the boats stopped while closing Nauru and Manus Island, why can’t Malcolm Turnbull? If John Howard was able to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle some of the caseload why can’t Malcolm Turnbull?

I just don’t buy the line that the people smugglers have become more clever than our intelligence services and that the Indonesians have become less co-operative with our military. If Operation Sovereign Borders depends on protracted, ongoing indecent treatment of proven refugees on Manus Island and Nauru then it doesn’t pass the test of basic Australian decency.

It’s time Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and Richard Di Natale got together and agreed on the best way forward. It’s time our military and intelligence services did their work spared the indecent pall of the ongoing appalling treatment of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. It’s absurd to suggest that these people have to be kept on Nauru and Manus Island in order to send a message. Remember, the ALP claims that it was all to be done and dusted on Nauru and Manus within a year. If that had occurred, there’d have been no people left there awaiting processing to send a message. And here we are, more than three years on with nothing happening, just waiting for the inevitable powder keg in those two places to explode.

The election is over. It’s time for the three key parties to come to the table and fix the issue promptly, agreeing that the boats will stay stopped, but that they will be stopped without ongoing punishment of others, the majority of whom are now proven refugees.

Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Professor of Law, Australian Catholic University 



Frank Brennan SJ is the CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia and the Rector of Newman.

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