In a striking attempt at a media blackout, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has just upped the ante. Yesterday, the Minister confirmed that he has no plans to tell the public what’s happening – not when refugees are arriving, not the conditions they live in, not when boats are turned back, and not when asylum seekers in our detention centres are suffering.
The goal, it seems, is to keep any meaningful stories about asylum seekers out of the media and strangle all sources of information, in the hopes we’ll all just forget about our detention centres and the people within them. If Minister Morrison is going to suppress information and refuse to be held accountable for asylum seekers under Australia’s care, there’s only one thing left to do: get these stories out in any way we can.
If enough of us chip in now, we can end the media blackout and fund investigations into places like Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island. We can uncover the truth about our offshore detention centres and the genuine stories of the people within them. Can you pitch in to end the secrecy around our asylum system?
Those who have been inside Australian-run detention centres have witnessed conditions that qualify as torture – including limited access to water, and more than a hundred young men housed in the stifling heat and humidity of corrugated iron sheds. Worse still, Minister Morrison’s changes mean that our government will refuse to be transparent about even basic information and statistics, nor incidents of asylum seeker self-harm or suicide.
The Australian Government has already made it difficult for journalists to pursue these harrowing facts, and the costs are becoming prohibitively high for most journalists. The Nauru Government has played its role too, by increasing the cost of a journalist visa by 3900% – from $200 to $8000 – for, essentially, a gag visa. Reporting on these places might be expensive, but it’s vital. With our Immigration Minister refusing to be accountable, how else are we to find out about human rights abuses that happen in our name?
Getting these stories out won’t happen easily, and won’t happen fast. But we’ve already spoken to journalists who’ve expressed interest in being involved – and the more that GetUp members chip in, the more these journalists will be able to do. Chip in, and you’ll make it possible to publish journalism that lifts the veil on our government’s secrecy:
This we know: if we let Minister Morrison’s actions continue unchecked, the honest stories about asylum seekers could evaporate from media sources entirely – our government could be free to get away with untold atrocities.
We can – and should – expect our government to be scrutinised. If you can help cover the costs of investigations into what happens inside Australian-run detention centres in Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island, we can ensure the centres are subject to the scrutiny they deserve, and release real stories from the asylum seekers who are under our watch and care.
Thank you for being a part of it,
The GetUp team
PS – This is another piece in a familiar puzzle. Past and present governments have gone to great lengths to put asylum seekers out of our sight, and out of mind. Last year, GetUp members responded by giving national coverage to the powerful stories, drawings and words of asylum seekers being held in Manus Island’s detention centre. Now let’s prove again that strangling information sources won’t deter us from finding the truth: https://www.getup.org.au/help-end-the-secrecy
 An $8000 Gag Visa, Nick Olle for The Global Mail, January 8, 2014