I’ve wept over the fate of asy­lum kids: Mor­ri­son

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - RICHARD FER­GU­SON

The mo­ral bur­den of over­see­ing asy­lum pol­icy and the or­deal of chil­dren in Nauru has left Scott Mor­ri­son on his “knees” and “in tears” at times, he re­vealed yes­ter­day .

The Aus­tralian re­vealed last week that the Prime Min­is­ter aimed to have all chil­dren on the is­land de­ten­tion cen­tre re­lo­cated to Aus­tralia by the end of the year, but they would not be al­lowed to stay per­ma­nently.

Mr Mor­ri­son was an­swer­ing ques­tions at a Life­line char­ity lunch in Syd­ney yes­ter­day when he re­vealed he had prayed for refugee chil­dren.

“You’ll find your­self on your knees, you’ll find your­self in tears, you’ll find your­self wrestling with this tough stuff,” he told jour­nal­ist and MC Mike Munro.

When asked if he ever cried over refugees per­son­ally, Mr Mor­ri­son said: “Of course I have. Th­ese aren’t easy is­sues … there are no is­sues free of mo­ral bur­den.”

He also said that he be­lieved refugee ad­vo­cates were wellinten­tioned even if he dis­agreed with them over bor­der se­cu­rity and off­shore de­ten­tion.

“I can un­der­stand that peo­ple who have a very dif­fer­ent view to mine are mo­ti­vated by the purest of mo­tives,” he told the lunch. “All I ask is that they might give the same ben­e­fit of the doubt to those with whom they might dis­agree.”

Mr Mor­ri­son first came to promi­nence in op­po­si­tion for his hard line on asy­lum-seeker boat ar­rivals.

He was then re­spon­si­ble for bor­der se­cu­rity and de­ten­tion cen­tres as im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter un­der Tony Ab­bott from 2013 to 2014, when he suc­ceeded in stop­ping boat ar­rivals.

There were more than 1300 chil­dren in de­ten­tion on Manus Is­land and Nauru when the Coali­tion took over from La­bor in 2013. Mr Mor­ri­son now says there are fewer than 30 on Nauru.

But crit­ics have con­tin­ued to protest against the con­tin­ued pres­ence of chil­dren on Nauru, with in­de­pen­dent mem­ber for Went­worth Ker­ryn Phelps flag­ging her first pri­or­ity in par­lia­ment would be to get chil­dren off the is­land.

Mr Mor­ri­son said as late as last week that he would not soften bor­der-se­cu­rity poli­cies and called on refugee ad­vo­cates not to den­i­grate the na­tion of Nauru.

“That is the home of Nau­ru­ans,” Mr Mor­ri­son said in Can­berra last week.

“Their chil­dren live there, their fam­i­lies live there, they go to school there. We should be tem­pered in our dis­cus­sion about the na­tion of Nauru and I think we should treat them with re­spect.

“We’ve been get­ting about this qui­etly, we haven’t been show­boat­ing about it … we’ve just been get­ting on with it in the ap­pro­pri­ate way.”

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