Politics

Peter Dutton Is Now Desperately Trying To Convince Us He’s Human

He seriously said he'd love to get everyone off Manus and Nauru, "if I could".

Peter Dutton has injured his bicep.

Peter Dutton is trying to pick up the pieces of this morning’s leadership spill by desperately trying to convince us he’s human, including by saying he would have loved to get everyone off Manus and Nauru, if only it were somehow possible.

Seriously — his exact words in an interview with Sky News were as follows: “I think in the Immigration portfolio, you are defined by Nauru and Manus. Now, I didn’t put any people on Nauru and Manus, I got people off. I would love to get everybody off there tomorrow — if I could have brought them to Australia in a charter flight overnight I would have”.

Indeed, if only there was some kind of government minister with power over Australia’s immigration detention regime who could somehow expedite the transfer of vulnerable kids and families to Australia. Oh wait, yeah, it’s Peter Dutton, or at least it was from 2014 up until this morning’s chaos.

Dutton went on to explain that the reason he wasn’t able to act to get people off Manus and Nauru was because “I would have seen people drown at sea, which would have been tragic obviously”. He’s referring to the (extremely weak) justification the government has maintained for its offshore detention policy, which is that it needs to deter people from trying to come to Australia by boat, lest they drown.

But let’s be real: the suffering taking place on Manus and Nauru is not somehow lesser than the suffering of drowning. Actually, people are dying — including children, one of whom is currently facing serious risk to his life because he’s been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks. But his urgent medical transfer to Australia was delayed multiple times when the Border Force abandoned attempts to transfer him, then refused to let his stepfather travel with him. He is finally being flown to Australia right now.

In 14 different cases, the Department of Home Affairs, headed by Peter Dutton, has gone to Federal Court to actively oppose the urgent medical transfer of sick kids from offshore detention to Australia. Dutton has described refugees on Manus and Nauru as “Armani refugees” who are “enjoying themselves…by the beach and all the rest of it”, despite no doubt being aware that Amnesty International has described Nauru as an “open-air prison” with conditions that “amount to torture”. He’s continued to back the offshore detention policy even after refugees have set themselves on fire in protest. No one made Dutton behave with such cruelty. He was in charge.

Dutton, however, said today he doesn’t want to be defined by Manus and Nauru. “I think I have a self deprecating sense of humour, you know, I like a drink like anyone else,” he said. He’s just a normal guy, he reckons, and it’s just that the public maybe hasn’t seen that side of him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly interested in seeing the “normal” side of a guy responsible for the kind of things Peter Dutton has done. I’d much rather see him use whatever remaining influence he has to put his money where is mouth is, and get everyone off Nauru.