AHRC president Rosalind Croucher. Image credit: Lukas Coch/AAP

The unfolding humanitarian crisis on Manus Island, where around 400 asylum seekers remain in Australia and PNG's abandoned detention centre, attracts UN and NGO attention as well as daily global and domestic media. Given the human rights issues at stake in this battle – the latest being the involvement of the Australian Federal Police in an aggressive and violent attempt to remove the men from the centre, and the outrageous indifference of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to Australian Medical Association requests seeking access to Manus Island so it might dispense urgent medical care – one would have thought the Australian Human Rights Commission, the national human rights watchdog, would be front and centre of a public campaign to remind the Turnbull government that it has human rights obligations.

The gross inhumanity of the federal government’s refusal to act urgently on the AMA request was made clear by AMA President Michael Gannon in an interview with the ABC RN Drive program on Wednesday night. Dr Gannon said that there is an extreme risk of cholera at Manus because there is no access to “clean water to prepare food in, to drink. If you've got unsafe toilet facilities or no facilities at all, then infections like this will take hold."