Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Is this the Peter Dutton version of "Children Overboard"*

Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Liberal MP for Dixon and multi-millionaire Peter Craig Dutton during a Sky News interview on 20 April  2017:

“There was an alleged incident where three asylum seekers were alleged to be leading a local five-year-old boy back toward the facility”

ABC TV Insiders, excerpt, 23 April 2017:
CASSIDY: I want to ask you about the recent disturbance at Manus Island. You recently linked that to a situation where you said that a 5-year-old boy was led away by three asylum seekers and that caused the mood to elevate quite quickly. Now, that's not true, is it?
DUTTON: Of course, it is true.
CASSIDY: It's not true.
DUTTON: It is true. And the briefing that I've had is particularly succinct and clear.
CASSIDY: Who gave you this information?
DUTTON: Well Barrie, I have senior people on the island. We also have obviously, significant contacts with the governor and people of Manus.
CASSIDY: You didn't speak with the police commander, clearly?
DUTTON: I can give you the facts in relation to it or you can take the Twitter version.
CASSIDY: Well let me give you what I understand the facts to be. The boy wasn't five, he was ten. It didn't happen on the day of the disturbance, it happened a week before the disturbance and there's CCTV footage outside of tent number one that shows the boy went inside and the people are packing fruit into plastic bags. They gave him the fruit and he left.
DUTTON: So let me give you the facts. The fact is that as people would understand, Manus Island is home not only to the regional processing centre but also to the naval base there as well. The point that I was making and certainly the clear advice that I received was that there had been a ramping up in terms of the mood on the ground over a period of time which included a sexual assault, to which you've made no reference, separate to any incident that we're talking about here.
CASSIDY: The sexual assault, that you're talking about two people have been charged with sexual assault but deny the charges.
DUTTON: So as you imagine ...
CASSIDY: You're an ex-Queensland policeman. You know that you're presumed innocent don't you?
DUTTON: Of course, but you're going to the mood on the ground which is not something that you need to prove beyond reasonable doubt in court. You're talking about what the elevation of the mood was on the ground and it was elevated by these allegations around this sexual assault. Now let that go through the courts -
CASSIDY: Elevated by the incident involving the 5-year-old boy?
DUTTON: Well just let me finish. So you've got the sexual assault, which as you say, can be heard in court. Everybody deserves innocence and I don't make any judgement about that. But I'm saying that that it did elevate the mood on the ground. And second to that, there is this incident which is being investigated by the police. Now, that will run its course.
CASSIDY: The police are investigating this incident around the 5-year-old boy?
DUTTON: Yes, they are.
CASSIDY: Do they understand that he's 10 and not 5?
DUTTON: I'll leave the detail to them.
CASSIDY: The detail is important in these matters?
DUTTON: It is. But if your claim is that the mood on the ground hadn't been elevated ...
CASSIDY: It's not my claim. The police commander says that there's CCTV footage showing that the boy was waiting outside the gate, he was looking for food. Food was placed into a plastic bag and given to him. He was ten years old and it happened a week before the disturbance and he left. That's the extent of it. Now how is that relevant to anything?
DUTTON: Well Barrie, I'm not sure whether you can be the judge, jury and executioner in this matter.
CASSIDY: The police commander said this.
DUTTON: Let's allow the police investigation to be conducted.
CASSIDY: Well why didn't you do that? Why didn't you let that happen?
DUTTON: I received different advice from that.
CASSIDY: Why didn't you let the investigation happen before you pre-empted it?
DUTTON: I was asked why the mood had elevated on the ground on Manus Island. These two incidents fed directly into that. That is indisputable. So if you're asking me about why there was an elevation of the angst between those that are living, including on the naval base on Manus, this was part of it. And that was the clear advice to me.
CASSIDY: Do you accept that you got some of the information badly wrong?
DUTTON: No, I do not. And again -
CASSIDY: The age of the boy? The intentions, whether he was led into the facility? He went in and took a plastic bag of fruit and left?
DUTTON: Again Barrie, I think that there are facts that I have that you don't so why don't we let the police investigation run its course and allow them some independent analysis of it because if you're asking me why the mood elevated, these two incidents fed into it and I have that on very good authority on the island. The parents of the boy involved in the incident might have a different view to the one that you have read off tweets and that's fine.
CASSIDY: The police commander said that this happened because there was a soccer game going on beyond a six o'clock curfew and that's what caused the disturbance and he said that some of the PNG soldiers were drunk. And yet, you put all of the blame on the asylum seekers.
DUTTON: I didn't put any blame anywhere. I was asked a question as to why the mood was elevated, I've answered that question honestly and on advice. In relation to the soccer game and the incident otherwise, yes absolutely, that's part of the facts of the whole lead-up to this unfortunate incident. Now, it's being properly investigated by the chief of defence in PNG, by the police commissioner, as it should. I also make the point -- in that interview, which you don't note, I make the point that shots being fired or behaviour as it is reported is completely unacceptable and it should be investigated. I made that point, which you neglect to make reference to. And it is important that this investigation take place, that it is properly looked at and if people are charged or whatever comes out of it, as you say, let them have their fair day in court.
CASSIDY: What would clear it up and it would help to clear up any reflection on you over your version of events is the CCTV footage. Would you allow that to be released so that everybody can be clear on what happened?
DUTTON: Barrie, the police investigation will take place -
CASSIDY: And after that, do you think that it would be appropriate to release the footage?
DUTTON: - if people are charged in relation to it to allow the course to be run.
CASSIDY: But if there's no charges and nothing happened here? Are you happy to have that footage released?
DUTTON: Well we will continue to release footage as is the normal practice now. I'm not making an exception one way or the other in relation to this case. If it is appropriate for it, and that's been the practice in the past, then that will happen. But that is an issue for the PNG Government. They run Manus Island, as you know. We inherited the mess of Manus Island from the Labor Party. We've stopped the boats and we want to get people off Manus island as quickly as possible. We've done that in terms of the negotiation with the US. Kevin Rudd's deal with the PNG Government had no outcome at all for people on Manus island. We are not adding to people on Manus island. We're not repopulating through new boat arrivals because we have stopped boats. But our job now is to get people off. We're doing that as quickly as possible. But we face all of the barriers in terms of returns that we spoke about before……

Given this performance (and a previous instance) one has to wonder about the quality of any evidence given to the courts by Mr. Dutton during the 1990s when he served as a Queensland police officer in the Drug Squad, Sex Offenders Squad and with the National Crime Authority.

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