In what will almost certainly be a fresh blow to Scott Morrison‘s recent attempts to rebrand himself as a benevolent uniter of the Australian people, the Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning that the prime minister once pitched a $9 billion “mass detention” program for asylum seekers living in the community on bridging visas.
Yes, that’s as insane as it sounds!
The pitch reportedly took place during ameeting while Morrison was the immigration minister under Tony Abbott, with the intent of having it implemented in the 2014 budget.
Details are scarce, but the concept was investing $9 billion in mass detention facilities to hold those who overstayed their bridging visas. It never made it to a full cabinet meeting, as Abbott ended up nixing it.
The report also says Joe Hockey “hit the roof” about Morrison’s proposal, opposing it on humane grounds and saying the government “as not about to start rounding people up off the streets and putting them in mass detention centres.”
Up to 30,000 people could have been affected by this program, though the source stressed it was likely not all of them would be in detention concurrently. Which is, uh, nice to know.
Call us crazy, but it really looks like people within the government are keen to leak against Morrison today. Along with this story, the SMH has also published a story suggesting ScoMo deliberately positioned himself to become prime minister long before it was clear Malcolm Turnbull‘s position was untenable. This runs contrary the to the narrative Morrison is pushing that he sort of just stumbled into the gig.
Spokespeople for the prime minister have denied both Herald stories today. Have to say – it’s not a good look for Scott!
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