I'm a fan of Michael Carlton's who writes the backpage on Fairfax's weekend NewsReview. Last weekend, he tackled the 'farce of the mining tax', the latest sympton of what he calls Labor's 'terminal disease.'
There has been an earthquake in the Pacific which has killed people in the Solomom Islands. I heard on the news that there was a tsunami warning for PNG. It did cross my mind to wonder if the Australian, PNG or Nauruan governments had given any thought to the extra responsibility of caring for asylum seekers if a natural disaster should occur on Manus Island in PNG or Nauru.
On November 30, New Matilda published a report by Adam Brereton and myself which included the comments of Professor of Developmental Psychiatry Dr Louise Newman who explained how detention centres like the ones on Nauru and Manus Island produce feeling of abandonment, despair and psychiatric disorders. On the same day, Dr Michael Dudley is Chairperson of the Suicide Australia Prevention Board since 2001 spoke at a protest rally outside the Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek’s office. As he spoke scores of asylum seekers detained by the Australian government on the Pacific island nation of Nauru were on hunger strike with one, Omid laying critically ill in a small Nauru hospital after refusing food for 50 days. A few hours later he was taken by air ambulance to a hospital in Brisbane.
A former adviser to the federal government on mental health in detention has slammed Labor's immigration policy. Louise Newman says the majority of asylum seekers on Nauru will develop psychiatric disorders.
Earlier in the year, I prepared a timeline covering the events for the period between 2001 and 2007 during which the Australian coalition government locked-up people seeking asylum on the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru, 4000 kilometres away from Australia. I prepared the timeline because I was upset by the way the Australian media failed to inform the public about the history of detention on Nauru at the time when the Gillard Labor government decided to restart the so-called Pacific Solution by opening detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island in PNG. After all, people who are eighteen now were still in junior high school when the earlier events occurred. This lack of backgrounding by the media makes it easier for politicians to mislead the public. By presenting the news in a very narrow frame, significant issues are made invisible.
Yesterday, New Matilda published the second part of my Pacific Solution Timeline. The second part begins on New Year's Day 2004. As champagne corks were popping in Australia, asylum seekers in Nauru detention centre were on a hunger strike. Some were in hospital after vomiting blood and losing consciousness.
In June, the Australian parliament debated refugee policy proposal put forward in a private member's bill by Independent member Rob Oakshott which if passed would have meant asylum seekers arriving by boat would be sent to Malaysia or to the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru, which had played a key role in the notorious Howard government's Pacific Solution.