In the latest controversial news around our unfortunate Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the government has announced that they are going to transport Aussie nationals who are currently in/near Wuhan to be quarantined on Christmas Island, in case of coronavirus spread.
Basically, what that means is they’re locking up Chinese-Australians in a refugee camp for two weeks. And, worse still, they’re actually charging them for the costs of evacuation. WTF.
In case this news couldn’t get any more fucked, the heart-broken community of Biloela has reminded Australia that the refugee family (with two Australian children) who were kidnapped and locked in Christmas Island haven’t received any notices about the news that their current residence is about to be turned into a quarantine centre.
Is it just me? Why is it okay to expose the #Biloela Tamil family to the #coronavirus by quarantining potential carriers on Christmas Island? Why is this little family even there, and why does a little girl have to be accompanied by a Serco guard to school? Just obscene 😨
— 💧Suzanne Cass ☘️☘️🇮🇪 (@suzanne_cass) January 29, 2020
Wait, Recap On The Biloela Family?
Priya and Nades are two Tamil refugees who escaped genocidal conflict and made a new home in Biloela, where they eventually met and married . They should be celebrated as a story of refugee success, finding a community that they fit into and adore and building a life together with their Australian children.
Except, their story doesn’t end there. For the crime of being slightly late to renew their papers, the Biloela family were forcibly taken from their communities and treated like criminals, even being briefly separated from their young children before being locked up in detention camps.
Our politicians have wasted $26 million imprisoning these 2 Australian-born girls & their loving Mum & Dad on Christmas Island, 5000km from their home in the QLD town of Biloela, where they are loved and wanted. pic.twitter.com/bFpZ2oDmh9
— HometoBilo (@HometoBilo) January 26, 2020
Despite outrage from their community and a heart-wrenching campaign to bring them home to Biloela, the government tried to deport the family (including their Australian children) but failed due to a last minute injunction.
As of now, the family of four are locked up on Christmas Island – the only four inhabitants of the refugee concentration camp that cost $180 million dollars to reopen. This is despite the fact that the two children, Kopika and Tharunicaa, are Australian citizens by birth – meaning there are no legal grounds for their incarceration or deportation.
So, What’s Going On With Christmas Island?
The Australian government has announced that they’ll be airlifting Australian nationals that are currently in China to Christmas Island, where they’ll be quarantined for 14 weeks. That might sound like a good idea, but actually it’s pretty fucked.
The action to move people to Christmas Island isn’t one that’s trying to support people’s wellbeing – Christmas Island doesn’t have an adequate medical facility to deal with the coronavirus (it barely has a medical facility at all, actually), and it certainly wouldn’t be equipped to deal with the virus outbreak.
Gauging reaction from a #Wuhan-Australians WeChat group to Morrison’s ‘Christmas Island’ evac plan: A lot of concern about medical facilities on Xmas Island, conditions for kids, safety, even web access. A comment that keeps coming up: ‘It’s probably better to stay in Wuhan’.
— Bill Birtles (@billbirtles) January 29, 2020
Australian hospitals are equipped, however, and have the means to quarantine and supervise patients. Considering the amount of people with coronavirus is extremely low in Australia, and experts aren’t particularly concerned with an all-out outbreak, it’s actually a ridiculously overreactive response to send people to Christmas Island.
It also asks the question, why can’t people just quarantine themselves at home, like most people are doing? The people being airlifted to Christmas Island are not currently suffering from coronavirus, but are being suspected of it due to their presence in China. If people that have already arrived in Australia can stay home and self-quarantine, why is this particular group being sent to Christmas Island?
But What About The Tamil Family?
I have just spoken to Priya. She told me they have not been told by staff about centre being used for quarantine purposes. My call was the first they knew of it.
She is worried about her little girls health as both have already been sick while in detention #auspol #coronavirus https://t.co/Q5ifWsA0pv
— Rebekah Holt (@rebekahhlt) January 29, 2020
And then of course, there’s the fact that there’s literally two (I cannot stress this enough) AUSTRALIAN children, and their well-loved parents (who Biloela has been begging to return) that are locked up in this refugee camp. It’s well-known that the coronavirus is particularly dangerous to children and those with health vulnerabilities.
Morrison announces that Australians transported from Wuhan will go to Christmas Island to be quarantined, assuring people living on Christmas Island they will be safe from transmission risk.
But what about Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharunicaa, who are STILL in one of the centres? pic.twitter.com/IAvvwUyArm
— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) January 29, 2020
And if all that wasn’t messed up enough, those being airlifted to Christmas Island are being told to cover evacuation costs. Since when was it normal to charge people for their own emergency evacuations?
If it’s so expensive to bring people to Christmas Island that the government literally cannot afford it (which we all know is complete and utter BS), then why are people not allowed to self-quarantine at home or in hospitals?
The answer is because the government (and probably in particular Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton) know how disdainful the Australian public is toward the Christmas Island detention centre, or refugee concentration camp as some call it, and need to make an excuse to justify this expensive facility.
@AlboMP: “Having a husband and wife from Biloela and their 4-year-old and 2-year-old daughters there at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. (The Government) needs to be seen to be doing something at Christmas Island other than a press conference for @ScottMorrisonMP“
— RN Breakfast (@RNBreakfast) January 29, 2020
Essentially, this move is a campaign to legitimise the Christmas Island detention centre as a seemingly useful resource. Even Labor’s Albanese, who is hardly a beacon of the left, is calling it out as PR damage control. It’s pretty clear that the public can see through the BS.
Image Sources: Twitter @HomeToBilo