Comment

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Ben Rushton

Whatever the spin or obfuscation, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison cannot avoid a glaring fact.

Australia has condemned those seeking asylum to a foreign country where it cannot - and has not - been able to guarantee them safety.

Whatever the blame Mr Morrison wishes to attach to those who broke out of the Manus Island detention centre, the stark reality is that one of them was killed, another had his skull fractured, at least one was shot, more than a dozen were seriously injured, and all up, some 77 were injured - most with head injuries.

It seems to be the case, though not entirely clear, that most of those injuries and very likely the death were at the hands of Papua New Guinea police.

Australia has no control over a foreign nation's police in their own country.

It does, however, under the UN Refugees Convention, have a responsibility to protect, as best it can, those under its care.

And what did it offer between a restless and tension-filled group of asylum seekers and a foreign police force over which it has no control?

A wire fence.

Mr Morrison declares Australia can guarantee the protection of those within the fence. Once they had broken out, all bets were off. It was, by extension, the asylum seekers' fault that they ended up with their heads' broken.

Less clear is whether at least some of those injured were actually pursued within the fence, including the man who died.

What is not at issue, of course, is that asylum seekers rioted and broke down fences. In doing so, they caused danger to themselves and to others.

Once the fence had been breached, they were where Australia had purposefully placed them: in a poverty-stricken foreign country known for chronic law and order problems and a police force known for brutality.

Whatever the detail, that is a fact.

The reason Australia placed asylum seekers in such an environment doesn't have to be stated. It has been clear since the former Labor Government chose to be seen to be as tough on boat arrivals as the Coalition. Australia wants to frighten further asylum seekers from coming to Australia with the promise that they will be sent to Manus.

It now has its wish, you'd think.