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Baby Asha: History will judge you

I was wrong. I would have bet good, folding money they'd have come for that baby at four in the morning. That's when the old Special Branch would come calling when they had some choice piece of villainy to be getting on with. It's the dead man's hour, when the blood runs slow and even the fiercest fires have dimmed to coals and ash.

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Baby Asha likely to end up in Nauru

Baby Asha is moved to community detention somewhere in Australia but the federal government will maintain its hardline approach, saying anyone arriving by boat "will not be settled here". Nine News

Still, from the look of the crowd that gathered in South Brisbane on the weekend to protect baby Asha, perhaps they'd have kept the fire burning. There were hundreds of people on the footpath in front of Lady Cilento Hospital, including BT's Jorge Branco whose tweets painted a swirling, impressionist scene of human walls, pizza towers and citizens barricading police vehicles to check them for refugee babies.

To be sure, there were a couple of the usual suspects from the Judean People's Liberation Front and the People's Liberation Front of Judea trying to hitch their donkey carts to baby Asha, but most of the protesters looked like what they were. Mere citizens.

It reminded me in miniature of the unusual vibe after Brisbane's last big floods, with punters turning out to do the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do. Of course the cynical will sneer that there were only 300 of them, while thousands, tens of thousands were more deeply engaged at any number of football games around the country; the roaring majority, who don't give a toss for burned babies and their terrified mothers.

But the 300 must have have done something to get Canberra to fold, because on Sunday the Anti-Immigration minister suddenly promised that baby Asha and her mother could stay. Maybe it was those citizens who took to the footpath in front of the hospital and vouchsafed the child's wellbeing when the Federal Government would not. Maybe it was the unexpected courage of a previously spineless and complicit Labor Party in finally growing a backbone. Premier Palaszczuk seemed genuinely eager for a cage fight.

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Probably though, it was the doctors.

Protesters can always be dismissed as riffraff, even when they're eminently respectable. Political attacks can always be counterattacked, especially when your opponents have such a miserable record of collaboration and cowardice. But when doctors start calling you out for state sanctioned child abuse, then you're in trouble.

The staff at Lady Cilento brought great honour upon themselves, their hospital and the medical profession. The doctors and nurses who have spoken publicly about the conditions they encountered in our Pacific gulags did so under threat of criminal sanction and in some future, less conflicted time, they should be acknowledged for their courage. And the 300 who put themselves onto the street to physically stand between that child and a government that intended to do her harm as a matter of declared policy? They can stand proud. They'll hear no whispering in their hearts.

Unlike the collaborators.

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