Dan­ger lurks in peo­ple- swap con

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

MAL­COLM Turn­bull has con­spired with Don­ald Trump to cook up a fraud of a peo­ple swap that puts Australians po­ten­tially in more dan­ger. That is the clear mes­sage from the leaked tran­script of the first con­ver­sa­tion be­tween our Prime Min­is­ter and the then newly elected Pres­i­dent of the United States.

Ig­nore the com­men­ta­tors who say the tran­script shows Turn­bull in “one of his finest mo­ments as Prime Min­is­ter” be­ing a “tough ne­go­tia­tor” and “force­ful in de­fend­ing Aus­tralia’s in­ter­ests”.

Wrong. The tran­script shows Turn­bull try­ing des­per­ately to save a deal that was in his own in­ter­ests, and not Aus­tralia’s.

It shows Turn­bull telling Trump he’d take in “not- very- at­trac­tive” peo­ple the US was try­ing to get rid of — “any­one you want us to take” — in ex­change for Trump just pre­tend­ing he might take our own un­wanted boat peo­ple still on Manus Is­land and Nauru.

The tran­script of the two lead­ers’ Jan­uary 28 phone call con­firms Trump was fu­ri­ous with the deal pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama had made with Turn­bull to take up to 1250 of our boat peo­ple on Manus Is­land and Nauru.

This di­rectly con­tra­dicted Trump’s prom­ise to stop tak­ing in refugees from ji­hadist coun­tries.

“I signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der say­ing that we are not tak­ing any­body in,” fumed Trump.

“I will be seen as a weak and in­ef­fec­tive leader in my first week by these peo­ple. This is a killer.”

But then Turn­bull made a sug­ges­tion. Trump could just pre­tend to honour the deal, while tak­ing next to none of our boat peo­ple.

“Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual is sub­ject to your vet­ting,” he as­sured Trump.

“You can de­cide to take 1000 or 100. It is en­tirely up to you. The obli­ga­tion is to only go through the process.”

Trump fi­nally got it: “Sup­pose I vet them closely and I do not take any?”

And this is the con that Turn­bull agreed to: “That is the point I have been try­ing to make.”

But this was only one half of the sham deal that could have the US tak­ing as few as zero ( ac­cord­ing to Trump) or 100 ( ac­cord­ing to Turn­bull) of our boat peo­ple.

The other half is what Turn­bull had se­cretly agreed to do for the US in ex­change. And this is the most dis­turb­ing part of the con­ver­sa­tion.

Turn­bull told Trump that if he stuck by the deal “we will then hold up our end of the bar­gain by tak­ing in our coun­try 31 ( in­audi­ble) that you need to move on from … Ba­si­cally, we are tak­ing peo­ple from the pre­vi­ous ( Obama) ad­min­is­tra­tion that they were very keen on get­ting out of the United States. We will take more.

“We will take any­one that you want us to take …

“So we would rather take a notvery- at­trac­tive guy that helps you out than to take a No­bel Peace Prize win­ner that comes by boat.”

All com­men­ta­tors as­sumed Turn­bull was re­fer­ring to his prom­ise last year to take refugees from Costa Rica ( which Turn­bull had un­til now de­nied was a quid pro quo).

That meant as­sum­ing that Turn­bull’s ref­er­ence to “31” was a tran­scrip­tion er­ror.

It also meant ac­cept­ing that Turn­bull mis­spoke in re­fer­ring to the Costa Ri­can refugees as “not- very­at­trac­tive” peo­ple that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion was “very keen on get­ting out of the United States” when they are in fact in Cen­tral Amer­ica and not even a US re­spon­si­bil­ity. Such a deal would be bad enough. Why is our gov­ern­ment agree­ing to take in just “any­one” from Costa Rica, in­clud­ing “not- very- at­trac­tive” guys?

I can see why it might help Turn­bull by let­ting him pre­tend to be fix­ing the stand­off with boat peo­ple on Nauru and Manus Is­land.

But how does it help Australians to im­port any num­ber of “not- very­at­trac­tive” peo­ple that the US is “very keen” to get rid of? But here is a bizarre co­in­ci­dence. What if “31” is not a tran­scrip­tion er­ror? What if Turn­bull did not mis­s­peak?

See, there are in­deed 31 unattrac­tive peo­ple that Obama was very keen to get out of the US.

They are the 31 re­main­ing sus­pected ji­hadists still held by the US in Guan­tá­namo Bay, ex­clud­ing 10 others who have been charged or con­victed of ter­ror­ism.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice as­sures me the ref­er­ence to “31” is not just a “pure, 100 per cent co­in­ci­dence” but in­deed also a tran­scrip­tion er­ror.

So the ques­tion re­mains: who are the “not- very- at­trac­tive” peo­ple Turn­bull will take from the US?

And why on earth would we want them? USTRALIA is shamed. A NSW court last week banned con­struc­tion of a syn­a­gogue at Bondi, to save lo­cals from get­ting ac­ci­den­tally hurt if the Jews are shot or bombed.

Af­ter this de­ci­sion by the Land and En­vi­ron­ment Court, what’s next? Send Jews back to the ghet­tos to keep us safe? What a vic­tory for the ji­hadists try­ing to kill them.

This dis­grace started when the Friends of Refugees from East­ern Europe de­cided to build a syn­a­gogue on ten­nis courts at Welling­ton St, Bondi.

Waver­ley Coun­cil, which iron­i­cally in­cludes sev­eral Jews, re­sisted, wor­ried at first by a de­sign with apart­ments at the back. That de­sign was then mod­i­fied; a planned blast wall — a de­fence against car bombs — was made smaller and less ob­tru­sive. And when Waver­ley Coun­cil still failed to ap­prove the project, FREE ap­pealed to the Land and En­vi­ron­ment Court.

The coun­cil now claims it was the court alone that re­jected the ap­peal, on the grounds of the dan­ger to the neigh­bours.

But Com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Brown made clear in his find­ings that the coun­cil’s bar­ris­ter had queried the “suit­abil­ity of the site hav­ing re­gard to im­pact on safety and se­cu­rity ‘ of fu­ture users of the syn­a­gogue, nearby res­i­dents, mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans’.”

Brown agreed: “It would seem that a more so­phis­ti­cated risk assess­ment process could be re­quired for mat­ters such as a po­ten­tial ter­ror­ist threat.”

A coun­cil spokesman later added “risks to neigh­bours and passers- by were not suf­fi­ciently ad­dressed”.

Sure, peo­ple may worry that the syn­a­gogue or Jewish school down their street could be blown up, send­ing stray shrap­nel into their house. But where does such think­ing lead us? Doesn’t it mean no syn­a­gogue, Jewish school, Jewish char­ity or even prom­i­nent Jew can live in your street with­out build­ing de­fences for all their neigh­bours and passers- by?

No one could af­ford that. And why pun­ish the tar­get rather than the source of the threat?

No mosque has been shut down for be­ing the meet­ing place of ji­hadists. Why do we ban the syn­a­gogues that are the tar­gets but not the mosques that are the threats? Taken to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion, this de­ci­sion means we’d force Jews to aban­don a pub­lic pres­ence, or keep to a ghetto so ter­ror­ists kill only them.

Shame on Waver­ley Coun­cil for telling Jews they’re on their own against a grow­ing me­nace to their right to even ex­ist.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump; and hu­man rights pro­test­ers dressed as de­tainees in Guan­tanamo Bay, still home to 31 “unattrac­tive” peo­ple.

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