Border protection hardliner Scott Morrison has told a Lifeline fundraiser that he cried “on his knees” over the plight of young asylum seekers held on Nauru.
As the Morrison government prepares to announce shortly they have removed all children from the island, the Prime Minister has offered his most compassionate line to date.
But his attempts to show his softer side were rubbished by Greens senator Nick McKim, who said: “He can save his tears and prayers and get the kids off Nauru right now.”
The New Daily understands the government is on track to remove all children off Nauru before Parliament resumes in late November.
The children brought to Australia will never be returned to Nauru but the government’s public position is they will not be able to resettle permanently here and will instead be sent to the US or Third World countries.
Speaking at a lunch organised by suicide-prevention service Lifeline, Mr Morrison spoke of the moral burden he faced as minister.
“You’ll find yourself on your knees, you’ll find yourself in tears,” he said.
“I can understand that people who have a very different view to mine are motivated by the purest of motives. All I ask is that they might give the same benefit of the doubt to those with whom they might disagree with.”
Mr Morrison also spoke of the need to check on friends’ mental health and the toll of working in first responder jobs, including police and emergency services.
Asylum Legal Resources Centre director of advocacy and campaigns, Jana Favero, said the simple fact was that Mr Morrison had repeatedly opposed the evacuation of children on medical grounds in the courts.
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s public declaration of empathy for children on Nauru, but we need to see some action to demonstrate these aren’t crocodile tears,” she said.
“If Prime Minister Morrison is worried about the condition of those on Manus and Nauru, he would not oppose medical transfers in court and provide a timely solution to evacuate people.”
“People have been detained in offshore detention for five years. They’re broken. There’s still 27 children needing medical evacuation off Nauru.”
“There are families split between Nauru, Manus and Australia. There are pregnant women and women who have experienced trauma and abuse, all needing needing medical care.
“It’s time to end this national disgrace of a policy, and only Prime Minister Scott Morrison has the power to do this,” Ms Favero said.