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9 November, 2018 02:45:13 PM

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'I dropped to my knees in tears' agonising over Rohingya's future: Australia PM

Independent Online Desk
'I dropped to my knees in tears' agonising over Rohingya's future: Australia PM

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison once dropped to his knees in tears while agonising over the future of Rohingya refugees, saying he wanted to "look these people in the eyes" before deciding their fate.

Mr Morrison carved his political career as a tough-talking immigration minster in the Abbott government and implemented Australia's hardline stance against asylum seekers.

Speaking at a Lifeline event in Sydney on Friday, Mr Morrison, an evangelical Christian, said he visited asylum seekers being held at Nauru and Manus Island and "sat in the middle of a camp in Myanmar with thousands of Rohingya refugees but also Burmese refugees", The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"I've met them and looked at the conditions. Politics is not for the faint hearted ...

and you've got to be prepared to understand and own and carry the burden of these decisions," he said."And you will find yourself on your knees and find yourself in tears ... your find yourself wrestling with this tough stuff."

Asked to confirm he had been on his knees in tears at the plight of refugees, Mr Morrison said, ''Of course I have ... why wouldn't I be? These aren't easy issues ... and you've got to be prepared to go through that and expose yourself to these difficult decisions.

"And if you can't, get another job. But this job is not for people who can't confront this stuff and you've got to make tough calls."

Mr Morrison said while holding the Immigration portfolio in government and opposition, he earned a reputation as "someone that likes to go and speak to people".

"So if I have to make hard decisions ... I don't do it from some room in Canberra without having personally met with and looked these people in the eyes ... that are affected by my decisions."Mr Morrison said the Coalition government had sought to remove children from offshore processing camps at Nauru since he headed the immigration portfolio, however "it takes a long time". As of last week, there were 35 refugee children on Nauru, down from 222 from August 2014.

Mr Morrison oversaw Operation Sovereign Borders, the controversial border protection operation led by Defence aimed at stopping unauthorised boat arrivals of asylum seekers to Australia.

He was criticised for his aggressive approach to the portfolio, including a video telling asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru that they will never be resettled in Australia and should consider returning home.

The video was recorded after he visited Manus Island and Nauru.

During his tenure as immigration minister, the Human Rights Commission delivered a report into children in detention that called for a royal commission after finding there were 233 recorded assaults involving children and 33 incidents of reported sexual assault, as well as hundreds of self-harm incidents.

While Mr Morrison was immigration minister, the government also passed migration legislation that gave him powers over asylum seekers described by former prime minister Malcolm Fraser as  "dictatorial [and] tyrannical" and that "destroyed the rule of law as we know it".

KK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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