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Australian Government plumbs new disgraceful depths

This from a Government where half of the Cabinet profess to be committed Christians.  The Age reports - with acerbic, and rightly outraged, critical comment....

"Bookies, as everyone on the wrong end of a losing bet knows, are a heartless lot.

But even the most hardboiled of bag-swingers, even those not averse to hiring large tattooed gentlemen to collect unpaid debts, would baulk at framing the odds on a punter having her toenails ripped out or his genitals clipped to a truck battery.

The current Australian government has no such benevolent hesitation. The Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, is planning to increase the stakes dramatically in deciding whether his nation should send an asylum seeker away to the dungeons and the hands of brutes.

And he wants to put a figure on the ghastly business. Yes. He’s offering an each-way bet, set a bit shy of 50-50.

Applicants for asylum on the basis of fear of torture must establish, under his proposal, that there is more than a 50 per cent probability that they will be subjected to agony or even death if returned to the country they have fled.

In short, if there is a mere 49 to 50 per cent chance of escaping being hung by one’s thumbs from meathooks while being thrashed by a length of electrical flex, that’s good enough for Mr Morrison. They can be sent to whatever fate might await them.

Precisely who will determine what unfortunate souls get the losing end of such a bet, or how it might be possible to calculate the percentage chance of torture being applied in a soundproofed cell far, far away is not laid out in Morrison’s benignly titled Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014.

What is laid out, however, is the mighty plunge in Australia’s willingness to protect seekers of asylum from torture.

Until now, asylum has been available to those who can establish there is a 10 per cent chance they will be tortured if sent home. A one-in-10 probability of being reduced to a whimpering bloodied mess might not sound particularly attractive to those possessing a heart, but it was deemed to constitute a ‘‘real chance’’.

Not enough for Mr Morrison. His Bill replaces a ‘‘real chance’’ with ‘‘more likely than not’’, which he deems to mean that there needs to be a greater than 50 percent chance that a person would suffer significant harm in the country they are returned to.

A halfway sensible punter would walk away from a bookie offering odds like that. Asylum seekers, of course, have no choice about taking the bet.

There is a choice name for a nation returning an individual to a country where there is a risk of him or her being tortured. It is ‘‘refoulement’’, and it is prohibited under the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Morrison, of course, argues his Bill does not constitute refoulement, and anyway says Labor was using the same calculation and he's simply putting it into legislation. So let’s shorten the word and call it for what it sounds: plain foul.


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