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Murphy's Law: The PM on Christmas Island

  • 13 March 2019


Two rules of thumb came to mind when surveying Prime Minister Morrison's recent excursion to Christmas Island: Murphy's Law and 'Those whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad'.

It was clearly choreographed as part of the pre-election opera to draw public attention to the dramatic act of a strong leader who is prepared to stop boats and keep out asylum seekers. But it was supplanted even on the front page of the Coalition-friendly Australian by the story of a National Party insurgency in Queensland.

To add insult to injury, the accompanying photograph showed the Prime Minister enjoying the sunshine on the pier more like a genial American tourist than the Australian Master and Commander. Meanwhile the commentary in the Melbourne Age focused its attention on the cost to the taxpayer of the plane that carried Morrison there.

The story told by Morrison at his news conference contained nothing new. In it he claimed that the Medevac Bill, supported by the Labor Party, presents grave dangers to Australia in allowing a host of refugees to come to the Australian mainland. The peril lies in the encouragement given to people smugglers and Australian refugee advocates, and in the likely presence of a number of lawbreakers and possible terrorists among the people transferred.

The Prime Minister expanded on this theme, again in practiced lines. The main reason why many people may come to Christmas Island for treatment is that refugee advocates help them game the system by inventing symptoms and so on. Many of them have a record of unspecified criminal behaviour and so pose a risk to Australian society and the institutions to which they are sent.

If they come to Australia they are enabled to 'get their hooks into the Australian legal system' and so doing might thwart or delay the government's decision to send them back to Nauru. To prevent this from happening, the government has committed many millions of dollars to send a large medical team to Christmas Island, including more than 30 mental health experts, and to build secure riot-proof accommodation to hold people sent there. All this will deter people smugglers and guarantee Australia's territorial integrity.

So far this pitch has failed to excite the punters. Even the mainstream media have drawn attention to the evident inconsistencies in it. If, on examination on Christmas Island, people transferred there proved to need care available only on the mainland, they would have to