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Crikey Says

Jan 11, 2016

Time for Dutton to go

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton should resign. Not because of the news over the Christmas break that he accidentally sent a text message deriding a journalist as a "mad fucking wit

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Immigration Minister Peter Dutton should resign.

Not because of the news over the Christmas break that he accidentally sent a text message deriding a journalist as a “mad fucking witch” simply for doing her job, although that — like the boom mic incident — was an insight into what language the minister believes is privately acceptable to use.

No, Dutton should resign because of his treatment of another woman– the 23-year-old Somali asylum seeker known as Abyan. The government’s mishandling of Abyan’s health and well-being after she became pregnant on Nauru is well documented. Abyan was seeking a termination of her pregnancy in September, but she wasn’t brought into Australia until early October. Late one night, less than a week after she was brought to Australia, she was whisked back to Nauru on a private charter for $115,000, with Dutton claiming Abyan had made a decision not to proceed with the termination. He made the claim in a number of interviews, in door stops, and in Parliament:

“The lady, following the consultations, provided advice that she did not wish to proceed with the termination and, as a result, was then chartered from Australia back to Nauru.”

But documents obtained under freedom of information by human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter published over the break revealed that Dutton misled the public in that claim. Emails show that on October 15, shortly before Abyan was returned to Nauru, officials made it clear that while Abyan had declined a termination at that point, “she did make it clear that she hasn’t completely changed her mind”.

Rather than waiting until Abyan was healthy and fit enough to make a firm decision on terminating the pregnancy, the government hurried her back to Nauru because, in the words of Neil Skill, the first assistant secretary for the Immigration Department, they believed Abyan’s lawyer was “buying time so he can seek legal intervention” to keep Abyan in Australia permanently.

That an Australian government agency would seek to evade the Australian court system is bad enough, but to risk the health and well-being of an asylum seeker is an outrage. Dutton should resign, or Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should sack him in his expected early year reshuffle.

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