I am starting to feel concerned that perhaps Peter Dutton took his title as “worst Health Minister” the wrong way. It seems to me that such media coverage and notice was so exciting to the now Minister for Immigration that he is striving to keep this mantle in his new portfolio.
The continued detention of children and the reported delay in the treatment of a refugee child with a fractured arm would suggest that his poor health legacy continues.
Health professions are anxiously following his progress, however. The list of peak bodies calling for change in the treatment of asylum seekers, particularly children now includes:
Interestingly, I have not seen any government backlash, yelling about partisanship or calling for resignations of those that lead these organisations.
Perhaps it is the wealth of evidence, experience and expertise that these organisations bring to their subject matter? But that can’t be it – or the outrageous attacks on Gillian Triggs wouldn’t be occurring either.
Perhaps it is OK to say that we are physically and psychologically damaging children, but suggesting we are breaching their human rights and our international obligations is what really crosses the line? But that can’t be right – given that the government passed legislation that could silence any health worker speaking out about abuses in detention with a threat of two years in jail. In a recent article in the Conversation, Louise Newman concludes that such changes mean “clinical involvement in the current system is unsustainable.”
Perhaps Minister Dutton only has concerns about individuals. This may be getting closer to the truth.
Media reports tell us that Minister Dutton has come to the conclusion that he should be allowed to strip individuals of their citizenship at his discretion. The idea that any one individual could make such determination is absolutely mind blowing and has led to Liberals within and out with government speaking out.
On the weekend Amanda Vanstone wrote:
“you can imagine my profound disappointment, bordering on despair, when I see some on “my team” thinking it is OK for a minister alone to take away a citizen’s rights – indeed, take away citizenship – in the blink of an eye. No appeal, no judicial process, just a ministerial decision. What were they thinking?”
Minister Dutton has since come out and stated that reports about his proposal are “outrageous” and that of course there will be judicial oversight. I guess that is what happens when you don’t release any details, just test the waters.
But did you see what has happened here? Did you notice that I started talking about children in detention, and now I am all distracted and angry about the bullying of Gillian Triggs and Ministerial overreach.
As Tim Dick wrote “In a government which prizes making a goose of oneself, Dutton excels.” Dutton is perfecting being the worst, it’s the ultimate distraction from his (in)action.
I recently read an article (apologies to the author as I can’t remember where) that suggested that the Coalition says increasingly outrageous things in order to try and draw out a response from Labor (good luck with that). I wonder if the intention is much broader, however.
With each new outrage, less attention and focus is put on the fact that children are still in detention, and that some of them have been there for years. They are still suffering, there are still reports of abuse.
Nothing is more outrageous than the constant turning away from the fact that children are being abused and harmed in our care. Nothing.
Minister Dutton, the health community is watching. And we won’t be distracted.