Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has called for an immediate freeze on the provision of bridging visas for asylum seekers, after it was revealed a man released into the community on a bridging visa had been charged with indecent assault & rape.–Morrison was verballedÂ (Andrew Bolt)
On the face of it, it’s hard to disagree with the comment from Liberal backbencher Russell Broadbent in The Age that there should ‘never be special categories of laws for different categories of people…the rule of law should apply to all and we should not set some people apart’. That sounds reasonable, noble and consistent with notions of equality. Barrister Greg Barns refers to the ‘fear campaign’ being run by Mr Morrison which he says ‘implies there are large criminal elements among asylum seekers, which is just not the case’. Today’s article is complemented by comment from Michael Gordon who says there is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest these people were more likely to misbehave than any other member of society.
Not a scintilla of evidence?
While there are studies concluding that immigrants in European nations are ‘over represented in crime statistics’ which could arguably be said to constitute ‘more likely to break the law’, we are told that Australia is not suffering the same issues as other western nations. Yet commonsense would argue if 80% of Afghan women suffer domestic violence, that a large percentage of Afghan men arriving on our shores have a high probability of being those violent abusers.
Recent headlines stated thatÂ Australia’s immigration detention centres are often lawless,Â violent, high-tension facilities where rape and sexual assault claims, mass breakouts, home-made alcohol, weapons, hunger strikes, a high number of attempted suicides and self mutilation feature in security reports recording ‘thousands of incidents’. Last years headlines includedÂ ‘Afghan refugee claims he raped a teenager because of cultural differences’Â and ‘Immigration detainee on pool visit touched girls’ chest’. Hurting people hurt themselves and other people.
Australian Christians would support Mr Morrison’s response for ‘behavior protocols’ as a reasonable duty of care toward the broader society, but would seek to know what steps the government is taking to assist these people who are more prone to violence and sexual deviation because they are not accustomed to living in a free, liberal and tolerant society. With the mental health crisis Australia already has, what can be done to assist these people who are suffering complex trauma from the horrors of war or persecution, or subjection to totalitarian regimes and illiberal values?
While Mr Broadbent wants to treat these arrivals equally with other citizens, not presuming they are more prone to lawlessness or in a special category, he is overlooking that they have a special experience and special needs. This month we read ofÂ gang rapes at the Nauru detention centre. Is the answer to release these men into the Australian community or protect the women and assist the men to adopt acceptable standards of behavior toward women? Australian Christians would thank Mr Morrison for his duty of care toward the broader community and recognition of the need to assist refugees in their adjustment to Australian life and respect for the rule of law.