“Don’t wait treating me.”
These were among the final words of 27-year-old Sudanese refugee and victim of Australia’s asylum seeker policy, Faysal Ishak Ahmed, who, after begging for treatment for months, suffered a seizure and fall on Manus Island on December 21. He died in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on Saturday.
He joins, amongst others, Reza Berati who was 23 when he was beaten to death during a riot, and Hamid Khazaei who died of septicemia a few weeks after a foot wound he suffered became infected. Both men died in 2014, before current immigration minister Peter Dutton took office.
However, an inquiry launched after Khazaei’s death proved futile in improving conditions and protocols since Dutton assumed the portfolio in January 2015. Moreover, given Papua New Guinea’s highest court found the Manus Island detention centre unconstitutional nine months ago, Faysal, along with 900 other men, should not even have still been detained there.
Faysal did not have to die. And yet, rather than answering questions, the government this morning said it would not be making any further statements.
Peter Dutton is a terrible politician. He has previously accused refugees of self-immolating “to get to Australia,” and accused
Amnesty International of bullying the governmet.And so, as we approach the end of 2016 and the time for resolution-making, I am repeating my call for Australia to do the right thing in 2017 and sack Peter Dutton.
For those still skeptical of the need to remove Dutton from the front bench, here are just a handful of reasons why.
1. Gross negligence and lack of accountability following deaths of asylum seekers on his watch
2. Calling Lebanese immigration a “mistake”
When I first called for Dutton’s resignation last month, after he singled out Lebanese Muslims as Malcolm Fraser’s “immigration mistakes,” I did so knowing his words would have real-world consequences.
As well as justifying our indefensible asylum seeker policy, Dutton’s words, coming a time of escalating anti-Muslim sentiment, did not, as he claimed, lay the groundwork for a sensible discussion of radicalism and immigration.
Rather, they merely added to and amplified the cacophony of voices that, defying logic and history, insist the answer to the question of international terrorism can be found in – and only in – Islamic scripture, thereby demonising anyone who happens to have been born into a Muslim family.
Sure enough, in an “exclusive report” earlier this month, the Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson (whose career highlights include going undercover as a university student and rifling through the bins of rival media publications) claimed the Australian Citizenship Test is being revamped to keep out “Muslim extremists, troublemakers and dole bludgers.”
Incredibly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s response to this debacle was to describe Dutton as “an outstanding immigration minister.”
3. “Mad f—ing witch”
Dutton’s year got off to a flying start way back in January, when, seeking to console his mate Jamie Briggs – who had just been ousted from the junior ministry for “inappropriate conduct” with a female public servant – he sent Briggs a text message referring to News Corp journalist Samantha Maiden as a “mad f—ing witch.”
Maiden’s transgression? She had done her job and reported that Briggs had violated a woman’s privacy by circulating of photo of the two of them, after promising he would protect her privacy.
Of course, in a stunning display of his own incompetency, and a harbinger of the year to come, Dutton mistakenly sent that text to Maiden herself.
4. Climate change isn’t real… or it is, and it’s a funny joke
Last year, the Australian public was treated to another accidentally-enlightening glimpse into the mind of our immigration minister.
In an exchange with Social Services Minister Scott Morrison and then Prime Minister Tony Abbott at a community roundtable in Canberra, the trio joked about the recent Pacific Islands Forum in Papua New Guinea, which had not run to schedule.
Captured by a fortuitously-placed boom mic, Dutton dropped this pearler: “Time doesn’t mean anything when you’re, you know, about to have water lapping on your door.”
What is most extraordinary about this footage is the clandestine admission of what the Abbott government, and to a lesser extent the current government under Turnbull, publicly downplayed: the disastrous reality of climate change.
5. “Illiterate” refugees: Dole bludgers and/or jobstealers (you decide)
Way back in May, in the midst of the election, Dutton responded to The Greens’ proposal to boost Australia’s refugee intake to 50,000, by invoking Schroedinger’s immigrant – the foreigner who simultaneously steals “Aussie” jobs while also languishing on the dole.
“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,” he said ominously on Sky News.
“For many of them… they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare…so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”
And for those not on the dole? “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.”
For an immigration minister, Dutton appears to not like immigrants very much. But perhaps that’s the point.
6. Denied a pregnant asylum seeker an abortion after she’d been raped
It’s no secret that the Immigration Minister presides over a bottomless pit of cruelty that is our asylum seeker policy. But last year, it reached a new nadir when a court found Dutton had breached his duty of care when he refused to fly a pregnant asylum seeker, who claimed she had been raped, from Nauru (where abortion is illegal) to Australia, despite grave fears for her mental health.
The Somali woman, known only as Abyan, later gave birth to the baby. Meanwhile, Dutton, ever keen to portray himself and the first world government he represents as victims (of vulnerable asylum seekers he paints as a coalition of powerful bullies), proudly declared that by no means would he be taken for a “mug” by allowing pregnant detainees to travel to Australia for medical treatment.
7. Ranked as worst Health Minister in 35 years
Dutton is not just an inept immigration minister – his woes began long before he took this particular office. At the beginning of 2015, shortly after he was demoted to the immigration portfolio, a survey of 1,100 doctors found Dutton to be the worst health minister in 35 years.
Proving his shortcomings are a lack of competency as well as empathy, one doctor, who was among the 47 per cent to give Dutton the dubious honour, said: “Dutton will be remembered as the dullest, least innovative and most gullible for swallowing the reforms from his think tank.
“Although I am glad he has been demoted, it would have been good if he was still around to take responsibility for the current chaos he has caused,” the doctor added.
Australia, it’s time to hold our worst politician accountable for his continuous failures and #SackDutton.