Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Torture as a Deterrent Is a Policy That Shames Us

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Torture as a Deterrent Is a Policy That Shames Us

Article excerpt

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull is by all accounts an intelligent person.

But whether he is more than just crude three-word slogans in a better package remains to be seen.

Mr Turnbull must surely realise what he is saying when he declares that off shore detention centres would remain because they are a deterrent to asylum seekers willing to take a risky sea journey to Australia.

"The one thing we know is these policies, tough though they are, harsh though they are in many respects, actually do work, they save lives," the Prime Minister said in response to calls from Australian of the Year Rosie Batty to close them down.

That proposition as it stands is that it is necessary for Australia to act in a cruel and damaging way to asylum seekers we have plucked from the open sea because by doing so we will save other lives. The value of those in detention -- engineers, doctors, teachers, writers, fathers, mothers and children among them -- has been reduced to that of an example to others to show how much more horrible their already fragile existences will be if they look to Australia for help.

The terrible thing is that there are many Australians, some of whom rally behind the flag as if they are performing some patriotic duty, who consider that a reasonable proposition.

There's not much that can be done about views as myopic as those that infiltrate social media daily with their Ban the Burka, and Stop the Mosque campaigns fuelled by fear and a sense of inadequacy.

But we elect leaders to lead. They have a responsibility to provide context, compassion and common sense to issues that require a global response. Labor is hopelessly conflicted while Turnbull, the supposed breath of fresh air, re-enforces the untenable position that we should torture for the greater good.

Thankfully though there are those in the community willing to call out this nonsense the latest among them doctors at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne who have refused to discharge asylum seeker children back into detention. …

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