JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Scott Morrison's doughnut logic on boat arrivals rings hollow

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Asylum seekers: why the secrecy?

Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan say the whole of Christmas Island knew that asylum boats had been intercepted on the weekend - she questions why the government is being so tight-lipped about their fate.

PT0M0S 620 349

Scott Morrison's weekend assurance that there had been no safety-of-life-at-sea event to report on because he was not reporting on one, was the kind of doughnut logic only a technocrat could love – circular and noticeably hollow.

It argued that people should trust their representatives and if nothing was being said, nothing was happening.

Scott Morrison has refused to discuss reports two boatloads of asylum seekers are being held on an Australian customs vessel off Christmas Island.

Scott Morrison has refused to discuss reports two boatloads of asylum seekers are being held on an Australian customs vessel off Christmas Island. Photo: Andrew Meares

This would be a bold argument from any government at any time, but from a Border Protection Minister who has routinely asserted the obverse principle of directed opacity to maintain ''operational'' integrity, it asked for a lot of trust.

The minister's doorstop press conference in Melbourne on Saturday was about as nourishing as a doughnut too.

Fairfax Media had reported that morning that an asylum seeker boat was nearing Australia from India, carrying 153 Tamils including women and children with some in poor health.

People on that vessel had made contact with journalists. Morrison not only refused to confirm the presence of any vessel, but pilloried the reports as ''speculation'' and actively led reporters to the conclusion that they were wrong.

The craft – presumably – has since been located and intercepted by Australian authorities.

Rumours of a second boat from Indonesia, have been dismissed by Morrison on Monday as ''curious'', whatever that means.

It is just another case of the absence of official information creating its own problems.

Important questions remain about the condition of the Indian vessel, the health of its occupants, their legal status, and their immediate future.

Clearly the prospect of boats originating from ports other than Indonesia presents new challenges for an already problematic policy of turn-backs at sea.

Assuming in this case that they cannot be returned to the transit country of India, might an attempt be made to refoul them to Sri Lanka and if so, what if they were legitimately fleeing physical persecution or worse?

These are no small questions either in international law or in human morality.

Perhaps the government's initial reluctance to acknowledge this particular ''on water'' matter is also partly explained by its embarrassing proximity to the June 19 declaration of success in stopping the boats for a full six months.

Morrison, who knows this policy area better than anyone, moved to ''clarify'' a slightly ebullient interpretation of this milestone by his boss, Tony Abbott.

''One point, just as we leave,'' he corrected at the pair's joint press conference that day, ''on the people smuggling issue and that is, it is true that we haven't seen those departures now out of Indonesia for some time but I just want to assure everybody that our assumption remains that they will always try.''

Yet for all that claimed readiness, this latest event seems to have caught Canberra on the hop and as usual, its first recourse is to secrecy.

Follow us on Twitter

465 comments

  • This whole govt is noticeably hollow... they have proven they are only driven by ideology and spite.

    It was interesting to hear Joseph Stiglitz say how poorly the USA is performing because of the very policies that Abbott is trying to put in place in his version of Australia.

    Sometimes countries make mistakes when they elect the wrong govt and this is a govt for another time.. perhaps the 1920s and certainly not in the 21st century which calls for a visionary, low carbon govt.

    Commenter
    n720ute
    Location
    North Coast NSW
    Date and time
    July 01, 2014, 7:09AM
    • So, the Labor and Green policy on asylum seekers was working better than the current one?

      Commenter
      Track record
      Location
      Armadale
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 8:23AM
    • hi n720ute, it seems you have a reasonably green opinion on things. thats fine. good onya. but why arn't you protesting against the refugee boat leaking oil into the sea and damaging the environment. surely those people should be held to account for polluting our seas. there are laws against this.

      Commenter
      davem
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 8:32AM
    • Yes, n720ute - Stiglitz's advice made perfect sense.
      That the Abbott government are not willing to move, change or modify policy for the benefit of the people (as new information comes to light) - highlights clearly that they have a set ideology/ dogma to follow and be damned anyone who gets in the way or stops them from implementing it.
      If you go back to their initial 'smooth talk' [*wink] when first elected - they are NOT adults if they cannot see the need to change, adapt or modify.

      Commenter
      Jump
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 8:48AM
    • If we are truly concerned about saving lives then the refugees should be stopped. Turning them back or directing to Indonesia is the best and safest option.

      Commenter
      I user
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 8:49AM
    • Track record, there was no Labor and Greens policy. The Liberals were scared that the Labor policy would work, so they teamed up with the Greens to block it.

      Commenter
      Paul
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 8:56AM
    • The Abbott government is one you would expect post a coup not one elected.

      Feeding the people what they want us to hear, hiding the truth and continually telling outright lies (before and after the election)

      Put Labor / Liberal aside Abbott is an embarrassing disaster.

      Commenter
      fitzy of kogarah
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 9:00AM
    • @ davem July 01, 2014, 8:32AM

      I refer you to the second phrase of the first sentence of the article. I would also add that the triviality shown is unbecoming anyone with pretensions to being human.

      Commenter
      BillR
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 9:04AM
    • @ I user July 01, 2014, 8:49AM

      " If we are truly concerned about saving lives then the refugees should be stopped. Turning them back or directing to Indonesia is the best and safest option."

      That's exactly what Morrison and Abbott have been doing for 6 months. Obviously it's not really working, is it?

      Commenter
      BillR
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 9:06AM
    • Dunkin Donuts? I thought they didn't have a franchise in Australia.

      Commenter
      Railroad Bill
      Date and time
      July 01, 2014, 9:09AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Asylum seekers: why the secrecy? (Thumbnail) Asylum seekers: why the secrecy?

Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan say the whole of Christmas Island knew that asylum boats had been intercepted on the weekend - she questions why the government is being so tight-lipped about their fate.

Scott Morrison revs up border officials while continuing his silence on Tamil asylum seekers

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has given a pep talk to customs officers congratulating them on the ''difficult'' job they perform, as the government's silence continues over a boatload of Tamil asylum seekers.

Tamil Asylum seeker boat may be forced back

Tamil asylum seekers believed to have been intercepted on a stricken fishing vessel off Christmas Island might be forcibly returned directly to south Asia by the Australian government.

Scott Morrison goes quiet as fate of two boatloads kept a secret

Two boatloads of asylum seekers are believed to be aboard Australian vessels off Christmas Island but the government has refused to confirm their existence or comment on whether they will be allowed to set foot in Australia.

Injured asylum seeker to sue federal government and G4S over Manus violence

An asylum seeker who lost his eye after being struck with a rock during a riot at the Manus Island detention centre is taking legal action against the federal government and security company G4S.

Tamil asylum seekers handed over to Sri Lankan navy, according to reports

The Australian government is refusing to comment on reports circulating on Christmas Island that 153 Tamil asylum seekers have been handed over to the Sri Lankan navy.

Government's medical health provider to be probed over treatment of children in detention

The federal government's medical health provider will face the Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in detention on Wednesday.

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo