ScoMo and Crabb: No human rights on the menu

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(Artwork by John Graham / @JohnGrahamArt)

Will Annabel Crabb invite Scott Morrison back into the kitchen when it is no longer de rigueur to pimp Scott Morrison's ride but to declaim his human rights crimes against asylum seekers? Gaye Demanuele critiques Kitchen Cabinet.

THE PROMO for the ABC's new series of Kitchen Cabinet merrily trilled:

‘[Next] week, Annabel Crabb visits Liberal heavy hitter, Scott Morrison. He's at home in the kitchen preparing Sri Lankan fish curry, chapattis and samosas — or “ScoMosas” as his staff hilariously call them.’

Funny at-home-in-the-kitchen dude. His staff find him hilarious and he can cook too. What a guy! Bubbly and glossy, Annabel Crabb is just the right tournant to Morrison as chief cook — minus the bottle washing to be sure.

ABC News recently reported that “ScoMo” is undergoing an image transformation,

‘...from tough guy of immigration to a politician with broader appeal and economic prowess.’

A family man, showing the public his “softer side” as evidenced by reading to the kiddies and suchlike. Annabel Crabb and Kitchen Cabinet now provide the culinary tour de force to this image transformation.

Problem is, something stinks and it ain't the fish curry. The Sri Lankan fish curry would certainly be fresh and tasty, accompanied with the chapattis and “ScoMosas” (#haha); Annabel would provide the confection. Yes, everything would be sweet in the Morrison kitchen but it risks leaving the viewer with a bitter saccharine after-taste.

Something stinks, besides the rancid meat served up to asylum seekers locked up on the off-shore prison camp on Manus Island and the mouldy tents passing as housing on the island prison camp of Nauru. 

No amount of Liberal Government propaganda aided and abetted by Aunty ABC – not withstanding Crabb's witty repartee and obvious charms – can mask the fact that Morrison has directed and administered grossly inhumane asylum seeker policy. Policy that stands in contravention of the United Nations 1951 Geneva Convention and 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees and diametrical opposes the ethics of humanity — policy that is so fascist in nature that the German neo-Nazi party NPD has lauded it.

In a cruel twist of irony, the menu in the Morrison Kitchen Cabinet tryst reflects the diversity of the Australian palate as influenced by multicultural flavours imbued by the arrival of, wait for it ... immigrants. Immigrants who have not only added flavour, spice and variety to cultural life in Australia but who have contributed to the wealth of the nation through their labour.

The choice of Sri Lankan fish curry must be a slap in the face to Tamil asylum seekers who sought our protection but instead were treated as criminals. Ranjini and her children, the youngest born on Australian soil, remain imprisoned indefinitely in Villawood Detention Centre. Of course, some have no face or voice.

Some have been driven to suicide in their desperation, destitution and hoplessness, forced on them at the hands of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Some are tortured, missing or dead at the hands of the Sri Lankan government forces after being returned to danger under ministerial direction.

The other items on the menu in the Morrison kitchen, chapattis and samosas, exist in various forms as staples throughout Asia, Northern and Eastern Africa and the Middle East — in countries where Australia has been complicit, both directly and indirectly, with the United States in war. The destruction of war creates conditions where people must flee their homes to seek asylum elsewhere.

Huge refugee camps in countries with far less wealth and resources than Australia, bear testament to this. A very small number of asylum seekers, in comparison to these camp numbers, seek Australia's protection — as is their legal right. Rather than welcoming asylum seekers to share at the table, our Government criminalises and abuses them.

Only very few politicians have dared to speak out with integrity. The human rights crimes committed against asylum seekers presided over and covered up by Australian Government ministers, Liberal and Labor, former and current, are well documented. As are the horrific accounts of torture, rape and other abuses as told to refugee advocates, journalists and UN representatives, as witnessed by whistleblower workers in the detention camps and as told by asylum seekers themselves.

These accounts, some reported to a senate enquiry this year (including reports by Save the Children and the Australian Human Rights Commisssion) will, no doubt, form the basis of legal briefs when the perpetrators are held to account in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The reconstruction of Morrison as the family guy, the funny boss and competent politician with which Crabb and Kitchen Cabinet have embroiled themselves, is fairy floss on a stick. It's a sickly sweet whitewash of little substance that barely covers the ugly face of human rights abuses. It is as costly as a Transfield detention centre contract paid for by the taxpayers and just as unpalatable. 

The breaking of bread, the sharing of food, is a communal activity — one where we welcome family and friends to share what we have and where we nourish body and soul. The kitchen is traditionally described as the heart of our home. This episode of Kitchen Cabinet that seeks to permeate Morrison's persona with a patina of social credibility and respectability makes mockery of such symbolism. It mirrors the contempt in which the government holds us and it ignores the fact that a democratic government exists to serve the people — not just the elite few.

The episode of Kitchen Cabinet in which Scott Morrison is featured had not aired at the time of writing. It will screen on 28 October at 8pm on ABC.

You can follow Gaye Demanuele on twitter @gayedemanuele.

The original John Graham artwork featured at the beginning of this piece may be purchased from the IA store HERE.

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