Scott Morrison was “s**t-worried” as Immigration Minister that protests at the Nauru detention camp would escalate, and sought to have ten workers removed, Mark Cormack said in a leaked transcript.
But the key staffer in Mr Morrison’s department had doubts whether there was enough evidence the ten workers were involved with the riots, segments of the transcript reported on New Matilda state.
But days after the sackings “it all subsided,” Mr Cormack, who was in charge of the camp at the time, told Phillip Moss, who is conducting an inquiry into the allegations of abuse and staff conduct at the camp.
“… Whether they were the right ten people, whether it was pure coincidence, I don’t know you’re ever going to find the evidence to say one way or the other,” Cormack said as reported in New Matilda.
“But to me, what I’m comfortable about is that I lawfully executed a provision under our contract (to have the workers removed).
Despite the lack of evidence, there was “intel” that had been emerging over prior weeks that suggested the ten staff were agitating at the camp.
Mr Morrison was said to have encouraged their removal, New Matilda reports.
“[The Department] simply executed what I considered to be a lawful order from myself, which I had socialised with the Minister, but he had not ordered me to do, but was clearly on my back from the time I uttered it to the time those people were seen to be either off the island or never coming back to the island. [Mr Morrison said] ‘Have you dealt with those people? Have you dealt with those people?’,” Mr Cormack said.
At the camp disorder reigned after Mr Morrison appeared in a video message that said asylums seekers at Nauru would never be settled in Australia, and Mr Cormack held fears that the fences were not up to the task of keeping inmates in or others out.
Mr Cormack feared the leaking and protest could spur a riot on Nauru of the scale of Manus where a large group of armed forces including state security members “absolutely beat the shit out of large numbers of people and killed a man,” he said.
Mr Morrison was said to have been “shit-worried” that protests could escalate.
The Moss report is due to be released soon. Mr Morrison has been asked to respond to the allegations in this story.