As Aussies probably know, folks on a boat were rescued by the Navy up off Ashmore Reef this week, after their boat caught fire.
The origin of the fire is a matter of some dispute. The Liberal (conservative) Premier of WA, Colin Barnett, immediately said that the asylum seekers deliberately doused it in petrol set it on fire in order to “force” rescue. The Feds have said that their investigation isn’t complete yet, and they will wait until it is complete rather than speculating on the cause of the blaze.
You may remember this dynamic, or a similar one, from such hits as Ruddock ‘n’ Howard’s “Children Overboard“. It’s turned out to be impossible to avoid the comparison with Children Overboard, but there’s no knowing what actually happened in this case, not yet. And that’s not what this post is about.
We’ve been treated to blow-by-blow media traumaporn on the injured people: RPH treating 22 asylum boat blast victims, Asylum seekers undergo surgery at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Nine asylum seekers to undergo surgery in Perth, Burnt asylum seekers develop serious blood infections, Five victims of boat fire put on life support, Doctors hope all injured asylum seekers will survive, Boat blast victims ‘need months of treatment’.
What’s really tweaked me today is this article:
Mr Barnett was at Royal Perth Hospital visiting the burns patients and hospital staff who have been providing around-the-clock care since Thursday night.
While he did not speak to the patients, Mr Barnett said many were clearly in a lot of pain.
“They were in view and as a lay person obviously, by the amount of dressings all over their body (it is an) extremely serious situation,” he said.
In these sorts of injuries, visitors are typically limited to next of kin and other close family. Infection risk is high, people are very ill, and they are typically on high doses of sedative medication.
Why was our Premier in hospital goggling at these severely injured people? Has he ever been seriously ill in hospital? The last thing you typically want is to be put on display for yet more random strangers, and the fact that he has already publicly pinned the blame on them for their injuries adds insult to invasion of privacy.
Were the asylum seekers informed of their right to privacy whilst in hospital? Were they told that they are not obliged to have politicians poring over their dressings and their agony? Have they had free access to advocates and interpreters through the consent process?
Why is this slimy little man leering at burned people laid out for his scrutiny?
If a medical report is required by the Government in order to assess and progress their asylum claims – something that is done federally anyhow, not at State level – they can seek a medical report from qualified treating staff. Don’t just drop in and gawk.