January 9, 2014
The Abbott Coalition Government's military-style operation known as Operation Sovereign Borders now involves turning back asylum seeker boats to Indonesian waters and ensuring that these actions are shrouded under a veil of secrecy, disinformation and deception.
It's like a replay of the Howard Government's border control policies around SIEV-4, Tampa and children overboard that involved an abuse of power . The Coalition is definitely not the champion of information freedom in a liberal democracy.
We can rest assured, says Scott Morrison, because the right policies on our borders are now in the right hands and these are consistently getting the right results. Fortress Australia is safe because a strong government is treating asylum seekers as queue jumpers, illegal immigrants and potential terrorists. Australia is facing a crisis, a veritable invasion by aliens. So the xenophobic fear and loathing is only to be expected.
Morrison's position conveniently ignores the Indonesia side of the relationship with respect to the complexities of refugee flows. Their position is that pushing back the boats is not seen to be a solution and the Indonesian Government rejects the push-back policy. So what is the impact on Indonesia by Australia towing the boats back?
Morrison's shrouding the operational matters of Operation Sovereign Borders under a veil of secrecy and muzzling the press is undemocratic. As Lenore Taylor points out:
Policy questions lead to "mischief-making". Public discussion of major issues is an unnecessary "sport". Asking basic questions can lead to unwarranted "micro-detailed discussions". The policy goals justify silence about the means. And for that reason the government, which believes so fervently in free speech, thinks it is reasonable to withhold basic information from the national policy conversation.
However, there is little need to feel much sympathy for the Canberra Gallery. The press gallery's abrogations of fourth-estate responsibilities is well known, they have become unable to evaluate public policy, and they do not - and cannot - tell us what we need to know to keep us citizens informed on public issues. The journosphere is all about the polls and the horse race.