Media Praises Turnbull’s ‘Reasoned’ And ‘Nuanced’ Torture Of Asylum Seekers


The new Prime Minister says the Coalition’s policies towards refugees could be described as ‘tough’. That’s true. And so is the fact they could also be described as torture, writes Liam McLoughlin.

The media are falling over themselves to laud Malcolm Turnbull. Even the Guardian is getting in on the act. Lenore Taylor was recently heard to say “I think he’s the best”, to which Katharine Murphy replied “Well I thought he was the best first”.

A recent piece by Katharine Murphy called Prime Minister Turnbull “Mr Nuance”.

And it’s no wonder. There’s no one more familiar with Malcolm Turnbull’s reasoned and nuanced leadership style than the 929 asylum seekers imprisoned on Manus Island, except probably the 621 asylum seekers trapped on Nauru. No doubt the 95 children denied childhoods on Nauru are especially well informed of Turnbull’s familiarity with syllogism and his appreciation of shades of meaning.

Turnbull has said, “Let me be absolutely clear, there will be no resettlement of the people on Manus and Nauru in Australia. I know that’s tough… you could say it is a harsh policy… but it has worked.”

Yes you could say it’s tough. You could say it’s a harsh policy. You could also say it breaches the UN Convention Against Torture, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. You could say it’s re-traumatising the lives of already incredibly vulnerable people. You could say these are crimes against humanity, as do independent MP Andrew Wilkie and lawyer Julian Burnside in supporting the case against the government in the International Criminal Court.

And it what sense has it “worked” Mr Turnbull? I guess you mean it’s ‘stopped the boats’, but I would have thought the Australian Navy can take the credit for that. If your understanding of ‘worked’ is so broad as to incorporate violations of international law, the mass production of mental illness, an epidemic of sexual and physical abuse and self-harm and the destruction of innocent human lives, then I would start to question your grasp of nuance after all.

And then there’s your nuanced and reasoned understanding of climate change. In attacking Tony Abbott for his climate policies, Canadian activist Naomi Klein recently said, “Too often we use this bloodless language, this very bureaucratic language that glosses over the huge moral crisis that we are in the midst of. So I stand by saying these are villainous acts; they are, I believe, criminal acts.”

Well at least Turnbull minds his Ps and Qs when he takes the same criminal approach to coal, direct action and emissions targets. At least we can rest assured that the fine nuances of the 6,000 lives lost in Typhoon Haiyan, the existential threat to the Pacific Islands, climate induced resource wars and mass species extinction are not lost on Malcolm.

Perhaps we should be grateful that Mr Turnbull has a strong grasp of the meaning of language and the principles of reasoned argument.

Perhaps we should appreciate the fact that as an intelligent man he must have a good understanding of the damage his policies are doing to asylum seekers and the planet.

Or perhaps that makes his continuation of these heinous crimes even worse.

Liam McLoughlin teaches English, politics, and media, and writes a bit. You can find his stuff at Situation Theatre or on Facebook and Twitter. He still can’t decide which quote is more profound: Karl Marx’s “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness” or Stewart Lee’s “David Cameron and Ed Milliband are about as different as two rats fighting over a courgette that has fallen into a urinal. The main difference being that the David Cameron rat is wearing chinos, in an attempt to win over the youth voter”.