The current government won in a landslide by playing to the worst of the Australian character. After nearly a year in office, some people are starting to wake up to just how horrible Tony Abbott is, although it mystifies me as to how they were unaware of this to start with.
The measure of the true character of this government can be seen on how they treat refugees - unable to vote and out of the eye of voters, it is how they would treat all of us given half a chance. So what has the Abbott government done about refugee policy in its near-year in office?
First, they cut the refugees off from public scrutiny, moving the refugee camps to PNG. They hired 66 media staff to manage the public image, but prevented independent journalists from visiting. Next they removed the legal protections and legal assistance of refugees, and banned human rights lawyers from visiting the camps. Even when they put refugees at risk by releasing the personal details of many thousands, they evaded fair judicial oversight - deporting those who tried to sue the day before the court case started. They ignored the UN when they condemned the human rights violations of children occurring in Australian refugee camps.
Once imprisoned in camps in PNG, the Abbott government has no concern for the safety of refugees. They have repeatedly ignored requests by security personnel for better lighting and cameras, and threatened staff who spoke out. They ignored occasions when the children of refugees were assaulted by security guards. All these ignored warnings place the responsibility on the government for when a local mob was let into the camp by security guards and proceeded to kill one refugee and severely beat many refugees and slit the throats of others with machetes. Further contempt for the refugees was shown by the lack of adequate medical care given to them after the attack, and initial attempts to blame the attack on refugees themselves.
Next, they gutted the health care for a group of people often in critical need, in particular removing critical mental health care. They replaced nurses trained to Australian standards with partially trained staff, and lied about the presence of a psychiatrist. The health care has been so poor that pregnant women have had unnecessary miscarriages; other women have had abortions rather than give birth in the camp, and a woman who did give birth was separated from her sick child for several days. Why so many pregnancies? Perhaps because the Abbott government is enforcing their Catholic sexual taboos in the refugee camps and banning the distribution of condoms. While we are on the topic of forcing their religion on everyone, the Abbott government has also banned homosexuality in the camps and threatened to report gay men to the PNG police (where it leads to 14 years jail). Remember, they'd do this to the rest of us if they could. To be politically viable, they limit their homophobia in Australia to unwinding same-sex marriage rights, but when given half a chance they criminalise being openly gay.
The Abbott government has only seen one "refugee" that they would actually like to see enter Australia. For the rest, they treat with the contempt that they barely conceal for the rest of the Australian public.