Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, trotted out the government's favourite line on why it is not doing more to help an estimated 20 wives and mothers and up to 40 children being held in the Al-Hawl detention camp in Syria this week.
Ms Payne said that while the government remained concerned about the welfare of the detainees, all of whom are alleged to be linked to Islamic State, "we will not put Australian officials, forces or our public in danger so any repatriation will occur only if it is safe to do so".
The minister was responding to increasingly strident calls to bring the women and children back to Australia in view of America's decision to withdraw troops from the Kurdish controlled area in which the camp is situated.
Her statement needs to be called out for what it is; a pathetic dodge by a vindictive government to visit the sins of their parents on a large group of Australian kids who had no control over the events that led to the nightmare in which they are now trapped.
That has been made clear by Peter Dutton's repeated calls to strip Australian citizenship from alleged IS fighters found to have dual nationalities.
Doesn't the Australian government hold itself to a higher moral standard than Islamic State?
"These (the mothers in the camp) are not innocent women who have taken their children into a theatre of war," he said this week.
In his view they, and by implication the children who are innocent of any offence, are traitors to their country and should be left to stew in their own juice.
Really? Aren't we better than that? Doesn't the Australian government, which purports to represent the values and beliefs of this country's people, hold itself to a higher moral standard than Islamic State? Apparently not. Presumably two wrongs can make a right.
The plight of the detainees, some of whom were interviewed in the camp by the ABC for a Four Corners program that aired this week, has become even more desperate as a result of the US troop withdrawal from parts of Syria now controlled by the Kurdish forces that fought alongside the west to smash the Caliphate.
It is feared Turkey, a long-time enemy of Kurdish nationalism, will respond with an attack that will throw the region into even greater chaos. If this were to happen conditions in the camps, already best described as hellish, would become nasty, brutish and deadly.
Unprotected women and children, especially those from Western countries and with the potential to be used as bargaining chips, would be extremely vulnerable.
Leaving aside the question Trump's betrayal of his Kurdish allies raises about our own relationship with the US, Australians must ask what value do we place on our own honour and sense of decency.
Ms Payne's line about not putting "Australian officials, forces or our public" in danger is a direct affront to the many diplomats, foreign aid workers and ADF personnel who would step up in a heartbeat if they were given the chance to bring these children, and their mothers, to safety.
The real cowardice being shown by the government runs much deeper than that however. It appears to be willing to let war, chaos and misadventure eliminate a problem it should be dealing with as a matter of urgency.
The children in the camps, whichever way you cut it, must be seen as innocents caught up in the fog of fundamentalism and religious war. If one or all of them were to die the electoral blowback against those who chose to abandon them to their fate would be immense.
It is time to bring them home.