WATCH: A Govt Minister Copped It For “Cruel” Asylum Seeker Law On Q&A

The main yarn right now is the Government’s intensely punitive proposed law which would ban all detainees in our offshore detention centres from ever entering Australia – even years down the line as a tourist. It’s pitched as a law targeting people smugglers, but obviously it’s the asylum seekers who really bear the brunt.

It’s just another terrible footnote on our widely condemned border control regime, which we can be proud in saying is inspiring and providing cover to nationalists, nativists and right-wing extremist leaders across the globe. Labor has signally very weak opposition, but their record on refugees is abominable too, so don’t expect a huge volume of legislative opposition.
For some (possibly unfortunate) reason, a panel show on the ABC is one of the few places where can really have a national conversation about issues like this. So it was on last night’s Q&A, where Health Minister Sussan Ley – as the only member of Cabinet on the panel – had to cop the critique. And cop it she surely did.

She provided a pretty weak defence to a questioner who asked about the policy:

It is effectively giving a legislative intent to what is policy at the moment, which says if you are processed in one of those offshore centres you will not come to Australia. Now, that’s a policy, as I said, but what we’re doing is legislating it.

The way to defend a particularly cruel piece of legislation is probably not to defer purely to the fact that it is a particular legislative interpretation of existing party policy. But in a country where ‘STOP THE BOATS’ became an entire political persuasion with almost zero actual depth, it may be unsurprising.

She said no refugees already in Australia on bridging visas would be affected by that policy – but Tony Jones corrected her. Her claim contradicted Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who had said it could absolutely affect those people. Ley backtracked and said it would be maybe 300 people affected.
Victorian chef Stefano De Pieri, also a member of the panel, pulled her up. “It sounds like fable. You’re telling us an amazing story to hide your cruelty. You’re cruel,” he said.

He continued:
You’re keeping people in limbo for years and years. After they’ve crossed the ocean and have been very brave, you haven’t got the heart to accommodate them in Australia … and you’re going to deny, forever, their ability to perhaps join with friends and family in Australia? I mean, who invents this cruelty?

And as expected, Labor Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon could not give an answer on what his party will do. “Joel Fitzgibbon thinks this is a policy without principle.” When pollies start referring to themselves in the third person, you know that only wonderful, wonderful policy outcomes are on the way.

What a shitfight.
Source: Q&A.
Photo: Q&A.