On 3 February 2016, Plaintiff M68 was decided by the High Court in the government’s favour. So here was the great moral challenge: should women, children and Australian-born infants be sent to Nauru where, on all the evidence, the conditions constitute child abuse. PM Malcolm Turnbull responded with fine rhetoric. In a doorstop interview on 8 February he said:

“All of us are anxious, are anguished at the plight of children in detention. … The one thing we know we must do is manage our border protection policies, yes, with compassion, yes, with humanity, yes with a deep concern about children.

But, if we make changes that have the consequence of giving the people smugglers a marketing opportunity – which they will take – they are very dangerous and agile criminals, and they use…

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