The standard you walk past . . .



Lieutenant General David Morrison AO gave the speech above in 2013 when it came to light that members of the Australian Army were alleged to be guilty of inappropriate behaviour to those of lesser rank and/or female. There are a couple of clear messages in the speech – firstly, his message to those that believe that his lack of tolerance of inappropriate behaviour is wrong; if it does not suit you - get out. Secondly he correctly states that the standard of behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept.

In the last week, Australians have been subject to #censusfail and release of 2,000 cases of abuse of people held in detention centres on behalf of the Australian Government. So which one gets the media coverage – unbelievably the #censusfail! At some point there will be an enquiry into the census issues, the enquiry will probably consider going back to the paper census next time – if not this time (although the website was up as this was being prepared) and the world will move on. Data from the census will be used to plan for future infrastructure (assuming the current Government can get over it’s ‘balanced budget’ hyperbole and develop a policy for the future at some stage in the next year) and if a significant number of people have lied because of privacy concerns, they and unfortunately those around them will suffer as a result. In addition, privacy concerns with the census are not new as this Sydney Morning Herald article from June 1966 attests.

The issue really is s Michael Koziel states in The Age; This country cares more about a computer cockup than the abuse of refugees And before you say no it wasn’t me, you are one of the people that employs the Australian Government. So you are implicated and to repeat Morrison’s words ‘the standard of behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept’.

It would be very easy to get up on a soapbox, point the finger of blame at the current Government in general and Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton as Immigration Ministers in particular as, since 2013, these two shameless politicians have given a lot of ammunition to take the easy option – including Dutton’s masterstroke from last Thursday

He said: “I won’t tolerate any sexual abuse whatsoever. But I have been made aware of some incidents that have been reported, false allegations of sexual assault, because in the end people have paid money to people smugglers and they want to come to our country.

“Some people have even gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia, and certainly some have made false allegations in an attempt to get to Australia.”
To demonstrate that Dutton just doesn’t get it; when Leigh Sales on ABCTV’s 7.30 suggested that
. . . the facility was turning into a “Guantánamo Bay-style situation”.

Dutton said: “No, and with respect I think that’s a ridiculous analogy. I think the situation is that people have paid people smugglers for a migration outcome, they want to come to Australia.”

“It’s turning into a situation where people are making a choice that they don’t want to go back to their country of origin in cases where we’re offering thousands, literally thousands and thousands of dollars for people to return to their country of origin, to provide support.”
With respect Minister, this isn’t about people smugglers, who ironically would be your core constituency of small business operators if they were Australian. This is about people that you and your predecessors have illegally (in the case of PNG) moved people to a foreign country, mistreated them and then deny that it is happening. The difference with the actions of the US in Guantánamo Bay is that they abused adults – you are allowing the staff of Australian contractors to abuse children and women who have done nothing wrong except attempt to better their lives.

New South Wales is going through the process of banning Greyhound racing because of widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals, yet Dutton sees nothing wrong in this country’s treatment of people on Nauru. Despite the wishes of the Northern Territory Government, the Federal Government quickly and correctly instituted an enquiry into abuse of children at the Don Dale Facility in Darwin, (admittedly when the issue received significant media coverage) with Turnbull saying
“We will get to the bottom of this swiftly and we will identify the lessons that need to be learned,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We have here a very troubling state of affairs where clearly there has been mistreatment of young people.”

“We need to to expose the cultural problems, the administrative problems that allowed this type of mistreatment to occur,”
Turnbull is concerned about the ‘mistreatment of young people’ incarcerated in the Northern Territory yet The Guardian reports
The Guardian’s analysis of the files reveal that children are vastly over-represented in the reports. More than half of the 2,116 reports – a total of 1,086 incidents, or 51.3% – involve children, although children made up only about 18% of those in detention on Nauru during the time covered by the reports, May 2013 to October 2015. The findings come just weeks after the brutal treatment of young people in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory was exposed, leading to the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announcing a wide-ranging public inquiry.
And the Prime Minister and ‘responsible Minister’ claim there are some false reports. Bottom line – IT DOESN’T BLOODY MATTER if some have claimed abuse falsely. If one person has genuinely claimed abuse – it is too many and The Guardian has records of TWO THOUSAND claims. Are Turnbull and Dutton seriously asking us (their ultimate employers) to believe that there are no genuine and two thousand false claims of abuse from a detention camp set up under Australian auspices? It beggars belief.The standard of behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept and by the way, the ‘look over there’ defence in this case is disgusting as well as disingenuous.

Detention Camps go back as far as the Keating years. While initially they were on Australian soil, Howard changed the rules to ensure that refugees couldn’t get to “Australian soil” event though they landed on Australian territory. The Rudd and Gillard government and all who served in them (including Bill Shorten and most of his shadow cabinet) are equally as guilty as Turnbull, Dutton and Scott Morrison as well as the rest of the Coalition of walking past something that any person with even a small amount of morals and ethics should have stopped years ago.

How do we fix this? Refugees are permitted to claim refugee status anywhere they like. It is in the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 which the Australian Government of the day (lead by the Liberal Party’s founder Robert Menzies) signed on our behalf. It is a complete and utter fallacy that there is a queue of refugees, that they are planning to overthrow the elected Government of this country (although if Turnbull and Dutton are the standard we accept, it may not be a bad idea) and the cost you and I am paying out to abuse people we should be protecting is $1.2 billion per annum .

According to this 2013 News Corp article , in 2010/11, 93.5% of refugees arriving by boat were found to be genuine refugees and the figure for 2011/12 it was 91%. Out of interest, more refugees arrive by plane (something like 32 times the number attempting to enter the country by boat). Those that arrive by plane and then claim to be refugees are almost twice as likely to be rejected. Those that arrive by plane are released into the community rather than being sent to Manus or Nauru. So we don’t even treat refugees equally.

So Dutton – instead of abusing refugees that arrive by boat, how about you close down the detention camps (as required by the PNG High Court), bring the people to Australia and process them quickly. Then commence the treatment required to restore their physical and mental health to an acceptable standard – Australia created the majority of problems due to incarceration on Nauru and Manus Island, Australia should fix them. It should be a bi-partisan move as Shorten’s Labor Party is just as culpable here. The Australian Government has $1.2 Billion per annum to do it with. 'The standard of behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept’. Should you choose to send the link or a copy of this article to your local Coalition or ALP MP I would support your decision. While you are there, ask him or her what they are doing today to fix this national shame – and when the ‘form’ letter comes back – respond that the form letter is not good enough.

With a bit of luck, if refugees are processed quickly, on shore with the physical and mental assistance required to overcome the trauma initiated by Australian action – Dutton and Turnbull might be able to find the $60 million per annum pulled from the Australian Bureau of Statistics budget in 2014 by Abbott and his cronies (who are also culpable for the human disaster on Manus and Nauru). With the $60 million restored, perhaps the ABS won’t be forced to comprimise on their valuable work (including the next Census) and the Government could fund appropriate education and health services for all Australians.

‘The standard of behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept.'

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