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PM Morrison, the 'puffed up, flim flam man', sacrifices human rights — again

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons)

In a dramatic end to the last sitting week of Parliament, the Morrison Government sacrificed human rights, yet again, in a bid to save its own skin. Senior editor Michelle Pini reports from Canberra.

IN WHAT appears to be a desperate bid to save its own skin, the Morrison Government shut down Parliament for the year on Thursday (6 December) to avoid losing a vote in the House of Representatives. Move over Yes Minister.

As Opposition Whip and Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Graham Perrett told IA:

"This Prime Minister is bereft of a moral core. He is a flim-flam man who will do anything to exploit a situation in the pursuit of selling his product — and that product is himself and his team of visionless cronies. They really are a disgrace."

Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers – including newly elected Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps – had previously joined forces to pass crucial asylum seeker legislation before Christmas. The Urgent Medical Treatment Bill would make it easier for sick children and adults to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment. All in all a pretty innocuous outcome, one would think and one which all compassionate Australians support.

Prime Minister Morrison, however, claimed

"… the medical transfer changes would turn Nauru and Manus into "a transit lounge", and would feature in people smugglers' "brochures" by the afternoon."

By pushing the Bill through the Senate before Question Time, it was hoped that since the plan also had enough support in the House of Representatives, a debate would ensue and the rest would now be history.

But the Bill would also have forced the Morrison Government to lose a substantive vote — which has not happened since former Liberal Party Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was defeated in a "no confidence" motion in 1975.

Sent into crisis mode, the Government was already frantically pursuing ways of stopping a vote in the Lower House, which they would likely lose. Enter former Liberal turned Independent Government collaborator Senator Cory Bernardi’s gifted delaying tactics – in which he managed to hijack the Bill from passing through the Senate in time – and an extraordinarily dedicated effort of postponing the inevitable began. (The outcome of the Bill will be determined when Parliament resumes in February 2019.)

The PM told reporters:

“I will do whatever I can, whatever I can ... I will fight them using whatever tool, or tactic I have available to me to ensure that we do not undermine our border protection laws.”

So Cory delayed, the Government plotted and perspired under its super-human effort to strand the humane action in the Senate and prevent it from being voted on in the Reps, and all the while on Manus and Nauru the asylum seekers – many of them critically ill – remained in perpetual limbo — where they have languished for the past five years.

Finally, just in the nick of time before the clock struck Parliament-is-over-for-the-year-o’clock, the PM sacrificed what he had previously termed “crucial” legislation, in the form of the “Big Stick” and Encryption bills, which couldn’t possibly wait another second at the start of the week, and postponed these, along with the fate of the lives of the people on Nauru and Manus.

Graham Perrett spoke to IA at length about the PM's seeming unwavering determination to stop asylum seekers receiving any assistance:

Scott Morrison has puffed himself up in front of his peers by showing how cruel he is to people seeking asylum. ... The reason he got in the Lodge is he convinced his colleagues that he was the cruellest immigration minister that Australia has ever had. Dutton’s since snatched the prize from him.

Now, this Prime Minister, because his platform is how cruel he’s been to asylum seekers and to the men, women and children seeking asylum, can't destroy that platform. And he thinks that he destroys it by doing anything, by showing any compassion to kids that are in harm's way in offshore processing facilities. ...

That's why I think Morrison is so passionate about this ... take that away and what has he got? He's got a Budget that was slightly less crap than Joe Hockey's.

Evidently, the PM was suddenly "fair dinkum" happy to jeopardise Australia’s national security and the safety of Australians young and old, as well as skyrocketing power bills, after all, in order to enable the Government to “save face”.

The flim flam man, strikes again.

You can follow senior editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9

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