Sunday, February 23, 2014

Can you think of a government programme that actually killed people?

(Above: Cathy Wilcox channelling speaking in tongues, clap happy Scott Morrison of the Shirelive church. More whimsical Wilcox here)

You could have knocked the pond down with a feather.

There as bold as brass, as cheeky and as insouciant as a parrot drunk on cherry blossoms, came these immortal lines:

We've established a Royal Commission because we want to get to the bottom of the most incompetently managed programme in Australia's history. Can any of you think of a government programme that actually killed people? (Joint Press Conference with Will Hodgman, MP, Hobart)

This only a few days after an actual government programme had actually killed a person, and actually injured a good many more.

But it's tremendously revealing, an insight into the way Abbott doesn't actually think of the people trapped on Manus Island as people.

They're out of sight, out of mind, an irritant, a block to his grand slogan of stopping the boats, and so a death doesn't count, doesn't cut it as a direct consequence of his actions, and his government's policies.

Of course it isn't so easy for the hapless Morrison.

He's just starting to discover that furtiveness and secrecy isn't any kind of guarantee that the mushrooms will stay in the dark:

Like a rabbit in the headlights, which isn't quite so bad as someone on Manus Island in line for attention from security ...

Australian security staff will be investigated over their role in the Manus Island detention centre riot that left one man dead and scores injured, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has conceded. 
In an extraordinary statement issued late last night, Mr Morrison admitted that much of the information he had given to the Australian public since Monday’s riot was now in doubt. 
The most explosive admission is the revelation that most of the violence probably took place within the detention centre's fences, rather than outside its boundaries, as Mr Morrison had previously claimed. 
“I wish to confirm that, contrary to initial reports received, I have received further information that indicates that the majority of the riotous behaviour that occurred, and the response to that behaviour to restore order to the centre, took place within the perimeter of the centre,” the minister said in the statement. (Scott Morrison admits information he gave on Manus riot was wrong)

Morrison probably hopes that by dropping the news on the weekend, it'll be gone by Monday. And anyway:

Can you think of a government programme that actually killed people and not some bloody foreigner?

Morrison is now in the business of blaming security staff and G4S and anyone else within cooee, but here's the thing.

The buck stops with him (and if you want to hand out further bucks, you can hand them first of all to the Tony Abbott and the rest of the Abbott government, and then to the Labor party, who in opposition can't say or do much, except cluck cluck and tut tut, because they set it all running to try to save their own skins).

The question now, is how long will Morrison last before he's gone? Already there are the obligatory calls for him to resign, with Bruce Haigh setting the pace in Scott Morrison all at sea over asylum seeker solution. And then there was Bipartisan brutality is morally bankrupt.

And so on. It isn't going to go away as Morrison discovers, like any number of ministers of defence, that the department of Immigration is a millstone around the neck of ambition, and that soon enough he'll be gone. Day after day, the goose is being cooked, and day after day Morrison manages to be a stumble bum.

Who could, in their wildest surrealist days, imagine this kind of header? Tim Wilson says Morrison response to asylum seeker data breach 'undesirable'.

'Undesirable'. Oh what a wise, masterly bureaucratic understatement, worthy of a line in an episode of Yes Minister.

And what about $13.3 million hotel bill for Manus Island staff?

But is there any good news? the stray reader might ask.

The pond always seems to be dealing with loons that produce chaos, anarchy and disaster into the world ...

Well yes, it seems that the little gauleiter of the north, the strutting bantam Campbell Newman, has had a tail feather well and truly plucked.

Was there anything astonishing and remarkable to glean from the substantial swing against the bantam, which he naturally tried to deflect on to Scott Driscoll?

How about this?

Mr Newman faced a hostile reception from unionists, Labor Party members and other protesters, who all subjected him to a barrage of abuse. 
While Mr Newman defended the right to protest outside the booth, he described the confrontations as“over the top and quite inappropriate”. 
“That's their right, that's their democratic right,” he said. 
“I don't believe that's how we should carry on and I don't believe that's the way civilised, decent human beings should treat each other, even if they don't agree with their political views. (here)

This from a gauleiter who thinks it's right and proper to dress prisoners in pink to humiliate and demean them, in a bid to strip them of their masculinity, because there's nothing worse than being thought of as girlie, or perhaps gay, or heaven forfend, maybe tranny or TG?

The premier, Campbell Newman, explained why he agreed with the idea to switch to pink. 
"They are bullies. They like to wear scary looking gear, leather jackets, they have the tattoos, they have their colours," he told reporters on Monday. "We know that telling them to wear pink is going to be embarrassing for them." (here)

And now the bully who wants to bully bullies is saying we should all be civilised, decent human beings who should treat each other with respect and decency?

What a futtock, what a prize gherkin ...

Naturally the bantam ate a little humble pie and spread a little corn to the chooks:

"Change is difficult, often complex and it comes with impacts on people and communities. 
"We understand. That many of you felt that perhaps we haven't listened enough, that we perhaps moved too quickly, that we haven't consulted you." 
He said the message had been received. "We hear it, we acknowledge it and we will do things differently as we go forward," Mr Newman said. (here)

Which is code for, sheesh, who'd have thought it, if I keep on acting like a prize gherkin, alienating any and all who get in my way, we could actually lose government at the next election ...

And finally the pond would like to celebrate at the news that 2GB's Ray Hadley has been off the air, and will likely stay off the air for some time to come, but truth to tell, it makes not a jot or whit of difference to the pond, since the idea of listening to Hadley or any other shock jock for a nanosecond never crosses the pond's mind. Yep, root canal therapy would be a better bet.

You can read Ray Hadley off air for a week after application for AVO, but really it's just another example of a public figure revealing that "do what I say, not do what I do" is the basis for a lot of the blathering that goes on in the public space. A Ross Cameron of the air waves, so to speak ...

Hadley is part of the 2GB machine, which is owned by Alan Jones and John Singleton and others (you can read about it at Crikey, with Unsackable: why Alan Jones can say what he likes, paywall affected), and routinely is on view scribbling in the Daily Terror, the least trusted newspaper in Australia.

Hadley routinely impersonates an hysteric to the right of Genghis Khan, always in favour of the Abbott government and all its policies.

This wouldn't have been so bad when his hagiographic hackery was limited by signal to the Sydney region, and to a newspaper only of use for fish and chips the next day, but now thanks to the intertubes, Hadley gets to drop his poison pen and poison mouth all over the place.

You know the form. Pick a few examples of foreigners, whip up fear, and who knows with a bit of luck, you might be able to mount a riot in Cronulla.

Here's how the hack haddock did it recently for the least trusted newspaper:

2. It’s hard to imagine the naming of 10,000 asylum seekers on the Department of Immigration’s website was simply a mistake. It appears to have been done from the inside to cause the most embarrassment to the minister Scott Morrison. 
 3. The ABC was at its brilliant best on Wednesday night. They found an interpreter, who had spent a week on Manus ­Island, who had some startling claims to make about the riots that led to the death of an Iran-ian man. Azita Bokan claimed PNG locals employed by the security company attacked people with rocks and mach-etes.Ms Bokan then confirmed she did not actually witness the violence. Hopefully the ABC will now find someone who actually witnessed what happened. 
 4. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is not weak-kneed when it comes to dealing with people granted visas by the former government when they are convicted of crimes. Two blokes were convicted this week. A Sri Lanka national copped a suspended sentence for an inde-cent assault on a woman at Parramatta last year and a man from Bangladesh has received 15 months for an indecent ass-ault on a blind woman in 2013. The Sri Lankan man is at Villawood awaiting deportation and the other bloke will also be heading out the country after he’s served his time.

Uh huh. The pond suspects that Hadley is a deeply angry and unhappy man, in much the same way as Alan Jones is deeply angry and unhappy.

It's easy enough to understand why Jones is so unhappy - that's what happens when you're forced to deny essential truths about yourself - but it's less easy to work out why the likes of Jones and Hadley should be encouraged by listening to them, or to paying any attention to them.

Now if you happen to listen to the ABC, you will discover that Azita Bokan did claim to have witnessed violence:

On the day after the first riots Azita witnessed seven G4S guards assault a detainee who was pushing an injured man in a wheelchair towards the medical compound. (and the rest of that interview here)

But then Hadley is right up there with others adept at denialism:

Can you think of a government programme that actually killed people and not some bloody foreigner?

A pox on all their houses, and if karma's a bitch, and the hate comes back around, you won't see the pond shedding a tear ...

(Below: it's about time to catch up with the inestimable David Pope, and remember, more Pope here)


  1. On this morning’s ABC Insiders Barrie Cassidy began by saying “Overnight the Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, has recanted much of the information that he gave out immediately after the Manus Island riot. The response to the riot led to the death of an asylum seeker and injuries to more than seventy others. The minister now says he got it wrong when the majority of the riot and the response to that riot happened outside the centre. He’s now advised most of the violence happened inside the centre including the incident that led to the death of a 23yr old man.”

    Barrie Cassidy was joined by Karen Middleton from SBS, Gerard Henderson from the Sydney Institute, and Phil Coorey from the Financial Review.

    During their discussion, Phil Coorey expressed the following:

    “I guess the bigger problem is that if the latest version of events is correct it is that they [govt] can’t guarantee the safety of asylum seekers inside what does it say about the ‘service providers’ and from any point of view political humanitarian, whatever, you can’t afford to have a repeat of this because this whole Manus Island thing is pivotal to this policy working”

    Henderson: “But no government can guarantee the safety…(inaudible) happens in our prison systems

    Coorey: “I know, I know, I know that but the fact is if you are going to send people to this place and it’s a Labor policy which the Coalition has adopted. And Labor supports this policy. It’s a bipartisan thing and you are going to send them offshore to this place and there’s going to be a loosening of your control it’s a problem. As Morrison said we can guarantee your safety for inside. Obviously they can’t and if you are going starting losing support then your policy is in trouble so I just think they’ve got to tighten up on the service providers.

    Henderson: “well, sadly in any detention centre or in any prisons there are assaults and there are murders. It happens in Australian prisons constantly and you can’t say the State government didn’t do something properly.

    On two separate occasions Henderson equates detention centres for asylum seekers to prisons. So if Manus Island detention centre can be equated to a prison then what crimes have been allegedly committed by the asylum seekers?

    Not much, if anything, according to ABC Fact Check:

    “What Australian law are they attempting to break?

    Fact Check also asked the Prime Minister's office what law he says these people were attempting to break. In the absence of any clarification or suggestion of any unrelated criminal acts by the asylum seekers, Fact Check takes him to mean that the people were attempting to break Australian migration law.
    As noted in the earlier fact check relating to Mr Morrison's comments, entry into Australia is governed by the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958.

    While it is accurate to describe asylum seekers who enter Australia without a valid visa as "unlawful" or even "illegal entrants", it is not a criminal offence to enter Australia without a visa. Calling someone "unlawful" or an "illegal entrant" is a description of how they entered the country and determines the way authorities process them. It does not mean they have broken any law. Arriving without a visa can only result in criminal sanctions if there is some other offence involved such as falsifying a passport or forging a document.

    1. hb, surely by now it is common knowledge one's fixed stand off position is fixed unchanging and right. One ought reasonably realize fixing one's intended position with reference to an 'undesirable' 'unintended' stance regarding sovereign borders may be seen as fraught due to the times and tides, you know, current affairs, but one always can say the government did do something properly from a certain fixed position.

  2. even in the deluded mind of Gerard Henderson the equivalent should be warders in Australian prisons rioting through the prison at night killing and maiming inmates .....the real question here is who the fuck are we..

  3. OH Dorothy Prattling Polonious would defend Tony if he murdered the poor bloody asylum seeker fancy these so called journalists sitting on judgement on politics when they sold their soul to the to mob of right wing mugs.

  4. Bit late, but here are some stats for deaths and injuries in work places in general.
    I suppose there might be some way to find out the numbers for the sub-set of govt. employees or those contacted to govt.

    Year 2009-10

    -deaths ... 111

    -injuries ...638,400 ie 5% of all workers.
    [I dunno about you but I find that number shockingly high]

    Avoid working in construction cos it had the highest number of deaths at 28.



Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.