I mentioned a little while ago that the Howard government has a new opposition
in the form of Petro Georgiou, the liberal backbencher for Kooyong (blue ribbon liberal!) who has finally spoken out against the government's policy of mandatory detention.
His dissent on this issue has long been held, but only behind locked doors. It is only in the last month or so that he, and three other members, have finally presented a private member's bill to abolish the current system (which makes Guantanamo Bay look like a kinder camp).
He held private talks with Howard at the weekend to see whether an agreement could be reached. This was simply a matter of following due process: if you've studied Australian politics for any period in the last nine years, you will realise that Howard's mind does not
change. So, predictably, the talks have ended in impasse
, and the bills will be presented to parliament in the near future (possibly next week)
Elsewhere, the Palmer enquiry
is revealing what happens when you leave a system of guardians with complete control over their charges out of sight and out of mind. It's an unpleasant aspect of human nature that was investigated briefly in an infamous series of trials where one group of students was put in charge of another group (can anyone supply a reference?). The experiment was stopped when it was realised that long term psychological damage was occurring.
The same factors led to Abu Ghraib... and to Baxter detention centre.
The Howard government needs a short, sharp shock on this issue. (Hell! A large proportion of the Australian public needs a short, sharp shock on this issue!)
De-energise the fences and let these benighted souls breathe free! There are more humane ways of monitoring the movement of illegal immigrants in the community. (And yes, they do
need monitoring, not only for the occasional
subversive* but, more importantly, for the prevention of a black market source of slave labour)
End mandatory detention.
*As someone once commented: 'Today's terrorist travels business class'