Protesters in Hyde Park, Sydney. (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

Were it happening in a movie, in an ant farm, on another planet, one could step back from Australia's quarter-century history of mandatory detention and watch the ceaseless mutations of the policy with intellectual interest. There's no solid direction to it. What’s considered unspeakably cruel now was considered standard practice back then; what we are now doing routinely, was out of bounds a decade or so ago.

Refugees could be traduced as a bunch of people who didn’t love their children, in 2001. But it was agreed they shouldn’t be allowed to just die in our camps. Now, in a more globalised era the racial discourse has largely gone. But the system, and much of the population, is indifferent to the fact that the camps have now become enablers and fomentors of suicide.