23 September 2015
by Ross C. Hamilton

And now the courts also think Scott Morrison is a dodgy operator

After winning the Division of Cook in 2007, a particular new politician fronted up to the Governor General and made his Oath of Office.

Scott MorrissonI, Scott John Morrison, do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law, in the office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of the Commonwealth of Australia, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. So help me God!

Now let us jump forward a few years.

On February 10 this year, the Department of Immigration posted a document on its website which provided the names, date of birth, nationalities and other personal identifiers of 9,258 asylum seekers. It remained on the Department’s website until February 19 when The Guardian Australian advised the Department of the document’s presence. This was a major data breach and not only were explanations in order, that breach complicated the considerations of the future of at least some of those asylum seekers. The Department had to put processes in place to address complications arising as a result of that breach. Hundreds of complaints have been lodged and the Department potentially faces coughing up hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. And investigation by the Privacy Commissioner confirmed that the Department had breached the privacy of those 9,258 people.

Various facts concerning the data breach and the Department’s response have gone under the microscope of the Federal Court as part of a review of certain cases relating to applications for asylum. The three Justices on the Bench for the case of SZSSJ [coded identifier of an asylum seeker] v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection made some serious findings about both the Department and its Minister – one Scott John Morrison.

Their ruling was highly critical of the Immigration department’s handling of the measures they later set up to respond to the breach. They said the “procedures were unfair to a significant degree” and ordered the department to pay the asylum seeker’s costs for this case and was granted judicial approval to appeal previous refusal of asylum. However the real condemnation was that the Department had deliberately suppressed information about the breach and failing to disclose pertinent information ie they tried to cover things up and hide information. But things got much worse. The three Justices were unanimous in finding that the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection at the time – Morrison – had essentially set up asylum seeker SASSJ to fail.

Not content with instituting policies and practices that have been condemned worldwide and repeatedly found to be in breach of UN Conventions to which Australia is a signatory, Scott John Morrison elected to deliberately set up an asylum seeker’s case to fail and issuing instructions to the Department of Immigration to make sure it happened. Further, the court found that the “…processes adopted by the Minister, until finally flushed out in this appeal, failed to satisfy these basic elements of regular decision-making.” Apart from condemning a failure to follow even the basic processes, for the court to refer to things as only being flushed out by that judicial process is pretty strong language, indicating pretty much what Justices Rares, Perram and Griffith thought of the behaviour of Scott John Morrison.

Now a case could be made that if there were genuine concern about the legitimacy of the asylum seeker eg being a security risk, then perhaps playing games might have been justified. But on reading all the details of the case before the Federal Court I failed to find any such indication. So there was no justification for playing these despicable games.

Allow me to refer back to part of that Oath of Office – Scott John Morrison swore an oath before the highest official in the country that he would do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of the Commonwealth of Australia, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. Instead, this piece of filth has blatantly breached that oath. And breach of a formal oath is serious business.

In the last couple of days Morrison has not just been touted as being the new Treasurer under the Turnbull regime, he has made it clear that he wants the job. But how on earth can a Member of Parliament who has been the subject of such adverse findings by the Federal Court of Australia and amply demonstrated in just what contempt he holds his Oath of Office, be trusted with anything more than managing a trip to a public shithouse? Rather than being further promoted, Scott John Morrison should be thrown on the back bench next to Tony Abbott. And an immediate investigation should be undertaken into any potential criminal and civil liability – the same thing that would be done to any of us in either the private or public sectors if we had been caught out acting in such an appalling manner.

Do not think for a moment that the deposing of Tony Abbott has somehow magically made everything better. The same elements Abbott used for his political thuggery are still there, still in positions of authority and nothing is going to change. But at least we know that the it is not just we hoi polloi who despise Scott John Morrison.