Scott Morrison's temporary protection visa (TPV) legislation, passed by the Senate last night, is like death row and will create a new lost generation of second-class fugitive non-Australians, writes Bob Ellis.
IT IS EASY TO UNDERSTAND why Palmer, Lazarus, Wang and Muir – though with great misgivings – voted for Morrison's 'compromise' last night.
They feared that children and adolescents, already shattered and suicidal, would do away with themselves if they did not.
They cannot, as far as I understand it, leave, for three years, a particular country area, to seek work or go to school. They cannot be joined by their missing parents, uncles, aunts or cousins from the 'old country'. They cannot go to the old country themselves, to visit a dying grandfather. They can never be Australians, and may be in 2017 sent home to torture in Sri Lanka or beheading in Afghanistan if Morrison, or his successor, deems this voyage an 'acceptable risk', as Amanda Vanstone did when she sent back my friends the Bakhtiyaris – six children, two parents, a baby – to death by means as yet unknown in Kabul, or thereabouts.
A TPV is like Death Row. You know your worst fear may come to pass in three years' time. You hope it will not. You may be, in 2018, in a country that sees you as a pariah, a deserter, a traitor, an outcast, and will not let you work, or eat, and arrests and gaols and tortures you if you if you beg, or whore yourself, or sell drugs to survive.
Why, then, would you learn English, or pursue your studies, or make friends, or woo a girl you might make your wife in five years time? You are on Death Row and your fate is uncertain.
You might hope for a better government, or a kinder Minister, but how are you to know if time will bring you that benison, that relief?
How will you not curse your father for putting you, and your sisters, in this dreadful Black Hole of modern history?
It is worth noting, I think, how frantic Morrison lately became and how much he gave up, to achieve this partial 'victory'.
The new Indonesian president threatened war if he pushed back any boats in his direction. The United Nations accused him of unusual cruelty to children. A new Andrews Government may prosecute him for cyberbullying two young Geelong men into burning themselves to death, one unsuccessfully.
History will call him, a pirate, kidnapper, abuser of children, and tongue-speaking madman of a type one sees in East African tyrannies, accurst by posterity.
And, more importantly, these children are now available for interview by Four Corners and so are their parents, and, though some will be too scared to reveal their agonies to an interested public, some Hazaras – perhaps, from Kandahar doomed to die there if they are sent back – may recount their sufferings, beatings, heat-strokes, rapes and illnesses on Christmas Island, face to face to the cameras.
It is probable Morrison cannot survive unimprisoned the calendar year 2015. But it is just possible he will be Prime Minister soon. So narrowly do the cards fall and so waywardly do the winds blow, that either is a hovering likelihood in these, the times we are in.
What an awful chapter we are living through.
And how lucky we are to have the plain mouth of Jacqui Lambie to remind us, in her rough, kind way, of what we believe.
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