First, the good news: Peter Dutton has just confirmed that the Government plans to resettle refugees currently on Manus Island and Nauru in the US even if their wildly-controversial (and plainly cruel) bill to ban anyone who sought asylum by boat post-2013 from ever coming to Australia does not pass the Senate. Which, by the by, further proves that the ban is unnecessary.

While Dutton did not provide a proper timeframe on the deal, this at least sounds like good news for the people we’ve tortured for the past three years. Small blessings, let’s enjoy them.

But in today’s interview with Hack, Dutton also largely dodged the depressing questions as to what will happen to the refugees when President-Elect Donald Trump comes into office next January. Will Trump send them back as part of the two-to-three million he plans to deport anyway? Will he simply renege on the deal if the groups aren’t transferred in time?

When asked by Tom Tilly how the plan will work under Trump, Dutton remained elusive: 

We can only deal with one President at a time,” he said. “This is the result of months of work, we’ll continue to work with the Obama administration and continue to run with the Trump administration.” 

When pressed further on a situation where this deal won’t be successful, Dutton did mentioned the usual unnamed, elusive “third countries” he’s still in talks with. The ones that have, until now, included Cambodia, the countries these people risked their lives escaping, or nada. 

He also mentioned in a later Sky News piece that he kind of just hopes Trump will honour the agreement. Because it is important to Australia, you see.

To be fair, Dutton’s kind of non-answer is an entirely reasonable response; nobody counted on Trump winning, and it’d be hard to imagine the Liberal Party creating a plan on the basis that it’ll eventually be defeated. 

It honestly sounds like Dutton just hopes the refugees are settled well before Barack Obama leaves January 20th and the end times begin. Then, this deal and our turnback policy (aka refoulement) will at long last make people seeking asylum by boat some other country’s problem. 

The interview contained a few more highlight, notably a reference to the untouched New Zealand offer to take refugees. Dutton weirdly maintained that New Zealand was a backdoor to reaching Australia, an argument that relies on the people seeking asylum wanting it solely from our country and not, y’know, anywhere that won’t torture them.

He also, weirdly, maintained that Australia taking American refugees, likely originating from Costa Rica, does not constitute a people swap, even though swapping people is literally what is going to happen.

Credit: Triple J Hack.

Photo: Getty / Stefan Postles / Stringer.