The federal government worries about the damage to our international reputation from reports broadcast across the region on the ABC.

Perhaps the government could simply not spy on the leaders of allied nations.

Or mismanage detention centres to fuel violence and even death.

Or not identify — actually identify — the poor souls to the brutal regimes they fled from.

You can expect that last little PR blunder — one that actually puts the lives of thousands of asylum seekers in some peril — to be broadcast across the world via The Guardian today (and no doubt by the ABC). They would laugh at us overseas if they weren’t so appalled at the sheer incompetence and unthinkable potential risk.

It is Australian policy — bipartisan, in effect — to place asylum seekers into a cruel, unending purgatory offshore. That policy — if “stopping the boats” is its measure — appears to be working.

But as Bernard Keane argued yesterday, the government cannot outsource accountability over the process. This is dangerous, already deadly, management failure within the Department of Immigration under Minister Scott Morrison’s watch.

The victims of Morrison’s “whatever it takes” approach are mounting. The world is watching.

Peter Fray

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