Fifteen months after Transfield Services suggested in a confidential communique to the Immigration Department that workers from the Save the Children organisation were helping to foment protests by asylum seekers on Nauru, the charity and its staff have been indubitably exonerated.
The allegations that Save the Children staff were "coaching" asylum seekers about self-harm so that they might be medically evacuated to Australia, or that they were manufacturing evidence about Nauru's lack of competence in processing refugee claims, have been debunked.
What we want to know is why the federal government, and particularly Peter Dutton as Immigration and Border Control Minister and his predecessor Scott Morrison, did not admit this vindication a long time ago.
For seven months, the government sat on the findings of an independent report by lawyer Chris Doogan, a report it commissioned in May. A heavily redacted version was at last released late on Friday, without fanfare and when Parliament is effectively closed for business.
First, some background. It should be recalled that in late September 2014, terrible reports had emerged about women detainees being forced to strip naked in front of guards at the Nauru detention centre so that they could get more than their allocated two minutes in the shower. And children had been asked to perform sexual acts in front of guards.
But before Australians could properly absorb the horror of these revelations and, perish the thought, feel some degree of sympathy for asylum seekers, there emerged a leak to the tabloids in the News Corp stable, that most willing mouthpiece of the former Abbott government, about a confidential report indicating Save the Children staff had incited children to harm themselves and encouraged asylum seekers to sew their mouths shut.
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