Australia has been seduced by creeping authoritarianism – and its citizens need to wake up

In this country, 9/11 coincided with the arrival of the Tampa – and the general atmosphere of emergency facilitated the development of an increasingly draconian system, one that always required careful media management. The director general of defence communication strategies, Brian Humphreys, reportedly testified to a Senate select committee that defence minister Peter Reith instructed his staff to not humanise the refugees.

Offshore detention made the prevention of that humanisation easier, simply by placing asylum seekers a long way from the Australian media.