Mar 10, 2016

Why I compared Australian Border Force to Nazis

Sorry if it hurts their feelings, but there is a very important reason to use emotive language when talking about asylum seekers, writes psychiatrist Dr Michael Dudley.

In a one-two punch of bizarre (and very touchy) press releases, Immigration secretary Mike Pezzullo is trying to deny the undeniable: what dozens of official -- including Australian government -- inquiries, and whole cohorts of health and welfare professionals, have seen and heard for themselves. The press releases were in part a response to this article that I wrote for medical journal Australian Psychiatry, in which I compared Australia's offshore detention regime to Nazi Germany. Pezzullo opined:

"Consistent with the law of the land, and under direction of the government of the day, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection operates a policy of keeping children in detention only as a last resort, and releasing those children that might be in detention as soon as reasonably practicable.

"This is a very contentious area of public policy and administration. Sometimes emotions rise and facts gets distorted. For the reputation of my Department and its officers, it is crucial that I set the record straight: the Department and its uniformed operational arm, the Australian Border Force, does not operate beyond the law, nor is it an immoral ‘rogue agency’."

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10 thoughts on “Why I compared Australian Border Force to Nazis

  1. Peter Darco

    Turning back the boats reminds me of the 1930s where ships of Jewish refugees sailed from country to country looking for landing.

    For example: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1174272-canada-turned-away-jewish-refugees

  2. bushby jane

    Pezzullo continues to churn out that discredited line that there were 2000 children in detention in 2013 as well. One would assume from his continuing press releases that he will be out of a job after the next election, assuming that most of the electorate has seem the light by then.

  3. Pamela

    “Department of Immigration and Border Protection operates a policy of keeping children in detention only as a last resort, and releasing those children that might be in detention as soon as reasonably practicable.” Pezzullo
    Right now 2 children in extreme distress, hair falling out, crying , feeling sick , scared constantly with facial grimacing and tics remain in detention against medical psych advice.
    A mother of recently released child told me yesterday-” she is laughing and running around in the house looking at everything- she is happy”- this baby born in detention never smiled – so much so that all worried for her mental state. At 10 months old she was freed.
    I could detail more cases. Many still rotting in detention against medical advice.
    What do you call such people who look at a child’s misery and ignore it?

  4. David Hand

    “Neither side of politics is currently interested in exploring these pathways” because middle Australia does not want the asylum seeker channel through Christmas Island to reopen.

    The RGR governments proved this.

  5. JMNO

    David Hand:

    Just because middle Australia supports offshore detention doesn’t make it moral or humane and even a deterrent to hopping on a boat. One photographer and journalist producing photos from Nauru or Manus like that of the young Syrian boy would change middle Australia’s opinion. That is why journos and photgraphers are not allowed to visit. They might humanize the detainees.

    With the boat arrivals under Howard, middle Australia changed its views after some were grant TPVs and released into the community – especially in rural areas, and the locals who met them realized that they were normal human beings like the rest of us, not an alien species called ‘queue jumpers’. Rural Australians for Refugees became particular advocates.

    Watch the DVD ‘Mary meets Mohamed’.

  6. James O'Neill

    Well said Michael. Our policies are not only contrary to our obligations under international law, they are a disagrace and an affront to humanity.

  7. AR

    Pezzullo seems perfectly happy to be this government’s Albert Speer, an architect of horror.
    He doesn’t even have the wit to understand that the Nuremberg Tribunal found that there could be no defense in claiming BruderFarce does not operate beyond the law – if the law is immoral then those obeying it without conscience are equally beyond the law.
    Given that Morriscum often claimed that we are at War with People Smugglers, then his proudly (sic! and sick!)declared policy of imposing intolerable privations & cruelties on a group of people in order to punish another group (not within his clutches) is surely the perfect description of “collective punishment”?
    Which is a War Crime under the Geneva Convention.
    Q.bloody E. D.

  8. Jaybuoy

    It’ll be right now that the spiv has appointed fabulous Phil as our special envoy..human rights done..

  9. Norman Hanscombe

    Perhaps you’re successful as a psychiatrist with your patients, Dudley, but anyone who admits he “compared Australian Border Force to Nazis” should stay secluded in his areas of expertise. There are more than enough weird Posters here without you adding to the menagerie.

  10. Robert Luxford

    Too many areas where the direct comparison to Nazi Germany can be made.

    Secrecy, spying on senators, program of cruelty, “Legal” policy, dehumanising the victims (give them numbers, call them “illegals”), use nationalism to deny claims (are you on “Team Australia”), punish whistle blowers – the list goes on and on.

    Then Pezzullo in an article headlined “separating fact from fiction” can’t help but use the term “allegedly” to muddy historical fact. A truly stunning self goal as it confirms for us all the willingness of this department to paper over truths by using techniques from Joseph Goebbels handbook.

    The horror of all this is that that isn’t the worse abuse of truth in this government approved press release. Can’t wait for the trials to begin.

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