I read with some dismay in the Canberra Times of 2 October about the appointment of Jon Stanhope’s successor to the positon of Administrator of Christmas and Cocos Islands.
What I read sent shivers down my spine.
The Administrator jobs in those Islands and Norfolk Island are quasi- gubernatorial positions. They are akin to the Administrator of the Northern Territory.
Governors and Administrators are generally, representatives of the Crown, and thus should be above commenting on the policies of the government which recommended their appointment to the Governor General who, on behalf of the severing, makes the appointment.
Whilst agreeing with what Jon Stanhope was saying about the treatment of asylum seekers on Christmas Island, I had some difficulty in his saying his piece whilst occupying the office of Administrator. I would have preferred him to have ended his tenure and then spoken out.
His words gave us all, or should have, concern for the welfare of ordinary people incarcerated illegally in appalling conditions for the crime of trying to save their own and their children’s lives.
Whilst I had difficulty in the timing of Mr Stanhope’s comments, I had a chill when I read the words of his successor, Barry Haase. Let me refresh you.
”Look , I am neutral on government policy, regardless of what shade the government of the day happens to be” – fair enough so far….
”Well, there would be no self-harm in the centre, if they hadn’t gotten on a leaky boat and paid thousands of dollars to be there.” And when asked whether it was the asylum seeker’s fault they were being kept in the detention centre, he said “Well, it’s no one else’s fault”… not good now…
On the issue of self-harm his attitude was “Well, buyer beware is my motto and … if one accepts an offer of a product you need to look at it from all angles and if you pay in excess of $US12,000, I would want to know what my destiny was going to be and how sea worthy the vessel was”… sensitive eh?
What about desperation? What about fear from persecution? What about being so scared you are willing to risk your own life and that of your kids to run away? What is it that he is missing?
His appointment was made by the PM only a year after he left politics. Forgive me if I am cynical about this appointment. The insensitivity displayed so far mirrors that of Scott Morrison to such a degree that it scares the life out of me and we should all be ashamed!