“It’s a very pleasant island”

I thought we could take a close look at Nauru and totally destroy Abbott’s fantasy image of this hell-hole.

Abbott, unlike most politicians, has been to Nauru, in 2011. He knows exactly what it’s like, although how much he actually noticed while he was there is debatable. He certainly did not seem to notice the old Howard-era camp had become a primary school.

On a lightning trip to Nauru to inspect the detention facilities set up by the Howard government, Mr Abbott said the camp structures were ”sound” and a processing centre ”could be reopened within weeks”.

Last night Sam Dastyari explained the reason Nauru was chosen for off-shore detention – it’s about the worst place you could be.

Let’s see why.

First – the climate. 

Nauru is just a bit over 40 km from the Equator, so its very hot and humid. Right now, as I write, it’s 3.00 pm on Nauru, it’s 31C, the humidity is 68%.  It’s also raining. Daytime temperatures are usually in the 30C to 35C range, at night the temperature seldom drops below 25C.

When I got out of the plane, the hot weather slapped my face. I had this sinking feeling: “Oh, it’s the end the world and maybe the end of my world, too.”

Try living in a tent with 17 other people in weather like that, with only a fan to keep everyone cool. No wonder black mould is a big problem on the island.


There are no seasons, just a monsoon season from November to February with the rest of the year usually dry. Droughts are frequent.


There are no flowing streams on Nauru to provide fresh water. There’s just a polluted freshwater lagoon, too contaminated for swimming let alone drinking,  and groundwater accessed by wells. Most of the groundwater is contaminated by seepage from the island’s septic tanks (there is no sewerage treatment facility) and by mining run-off.

The National Assessment Report (Republic of Nauru, 2004) identified the following threats to the quality of groundwater resources, including contamination by cadmium, leachate from rubbish dumps and sewage. Contaminants of concern include:

• Faecal coliforms and E.coli in soil / groundwater from septic tank overflow and soakage pits;

• Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) associated with the power station; • Metals (lead, zinc) associated with blasting / mining;

• Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) associated with storage and disposal of fuels;

Asbestos associated with building materials; • Ordinance compounds and heavy metals associated with historical bombing;

• A broad range of contaminants associated with fill materials of unknown origins;

• Cadmium from disposal of cadmium sludge associated with mining activities; and

• Leachate from uncontrolled landfill practices.

(If you have time, look through that entire report and see all the problems known to our government when they decided to re-open the detention centre. Further proof Nauru was chosen because it really is a hell hole.)

The rest is too salty to be drinkable. Locals rely on tank water. There are some desalination plants, but they are unreliable, expensive to run and eat into the island’s limited, imported fuel supplies. In the dry part of the year water restrictions are the norm and that applies to the camp as well. Mosquitoes breed in the swampy places and plague those in the camps.

In the camp water collected from roofs is used for washing clothes and flushing toilets. Drinking water is brought in by tanker from the desalination plants.


Food supplies are a problem. Mention a Pacific island and you immediately imagine plentiful tropical fruit, loads of seafood, feasts starring meats and vegetables cooked in an underground oven like a hangi or an imu,  chickens, eggs, taro, and more. Well, Nauru isn’t like that. The island is mostly barren rock, as a result of mining. Food is imported and is mostly canned or processed. Fresh food is restricted to limited amounts of fish and, very rarely, fresh beef. All other fresh food needs to be flown in or brought by ship on weekly supply runs from Australia and is very expensive.

Recent surveys have highlighted the difficulty of growing fruit and vegetables, and the high cost of importing nutritious, fresh food aboard Nauru Airlines planes. “We have WHO standards like ‘are there servings of fruit and vegetable in the diet?’” Auto said. “But 95 per cent of Nauruans in that survey reported not having the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits.”


You think of a “pleasant island” in the tropics and you imagine beautiful beaches with crystal water, clean sand and probably some palm trees.

Not on Nauru.

Yes, there is white sand, and yes, there are palm trees, but the beaches are rocky and footwear is needed for safety. Anibare Bay is advised as the best beach for swimming,  it has fewer rocks than the others, it is not as safe as it looks. The water at the beaches is contaminated by E-coli. Locals become immune to this as children, but tourists and refugees just get sick. The most popular swimming spot seems to be the boat harbour, which is mostly enclosed, making sure those friendly bacteria get a better chance of breeding and getting inside you. Some beaches are decorated with rusting, discarded bits of machinery left over from the now all but defunct phosphate mining.

Health care. 

The Australian government has spent millions on upgrading the Republic of Nauru (RON)  Hospital on Nauru. We were shown photos of a new ward with a row of new beds, and told this is “state of the art”. Both Dutton and Abbott have told us facilities on Nauru are better than facilities in some regional Australian towns. This reflects poorly on both men. Facilities are nowhere near those in regional Australia, they are vastly inferior. There’s another issue with these lies. If they are allegedly “better” then what the hell has this government been doing for the last five years, to make our facilities worse than those on a rotting, corrupt Pacific island where anyone with anything worse than a stubbed toe needs to be flown to Port Moresby for treatment?

Refugees are treated differently to the local population. They are denied proper medical care. Many articles have been written about this, especially over the last few weeks. Look them up, I’ve already taken up far too much space to detail all the problems with health care.

And finally –

The government of Nauru, dependent on Australian funding, seems determined to cut off as much medical help as possible. This is beyond my understanding. Nauru depends on Australian money to keep the island going. Without the steady stream of funding the refugees bring the island would be unable to survive. It has no other means of support. There is no tourism, the place really is a hell hole. There’s no industry, no fuel to support any. There’s no water supply. There’s no food. Without help from the outside world Nauru would revert to a barren rock within weeks.It seems odd to me that the dictatorship masquerading as a government seems intent on killing off all the remaining refugees as fast as they can.






192 thoughts on ““It’s a very pleasant island”

  1. And the court will so find that the government failed in its duty of care.

    The federal court has stymied the government’s attempt to challenge its jurisdiction to order that sick asylum seekers and refugees be brought to Australia.

    Lawyers for the Department of Home Affairs pushed for the hearing as part of an undertaking they gave last month to bring a gravely ill 11-year-old girl from Nauru to Australia for urgent medical treatment.

    They sought to argue that the federal court did not have jurisdiction to order that asylum seekers or refugees be brought to Australia, because of a 2015 legislative amendment that banned legal proceedings on matters relating to regional processing centres.

    Instead, they argued, those cases would have to be determined by the high court.

    That outcome could void previous federal court orders to bring people to Australia for medical care and remove the federal court as a lifeline for refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.
    Government to challenge federal court’s ability to order sick refugees to Australia
    Read more

    The department was prepared to argue the matter before the full bench of the federal court in Melbourne on Friday, one day after the government signalled that it was prepared to remove the remaining 38 children from Nauru by the end of the year.

    But in a joint order, justices Alan Robertson, Susan Kenny, and John Griffiths said it was not appropriate to test the jurisdictional issue as a separate question until the facts of the case — that is if, how, and by what means the government had breached its duty of care towards the girl — were known or at least substantially agreed.


    • Great in one way, sounds like it’s not all over yet though. Hopefully it can be dragged out until the next Federal Election. I’m sure Labor will abide by what the courts says, in that they will continue to bring these refugees here for medical conditions and then sort them out afterwards.

  2. WE wonder why those of the LNP..back-benchers who lay their reputation of their careers on their claimed honour and honesty, will never deviate from the party line, even though it takes them to places where they allow themselves to be used to shore up the hypocrisy of the network. They must know that by yielding to any modicum of power standing over themselves, they give credence to a sense of power standing standing over all…..it is an admission of subservience to tyranny, and you have to wonder why, in a society as free as ours, they allow themselves to do it….

  3. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Ross Gittins explores Andrew Leigh’s contention that it might be weak competition that is contributing to the problems of the economy. Gittins tells us that some of Leigh’s points might feature in Labor’s election manifesto.
    And Peter Hartcher joins in on the competition argument.
    The Australia Institute’s Ebony Bennett makes some good points in saying that losing its lower house majority could actually help the Coalition heed the lessons it most needs.
    Paul Kelly explains how Morrison is hostage to his own party’s disunity.
    Paul Bongiorno writes that there is a sense that Scott Morrison’s government has reached the point of no return as the realisation dawns that Bill Shorten’s Opposition is now the government-in-waiting.
    James Massola tells us that the Morrison government’s decision to review the location of Australia’s Israeli embassy has put relations with Indonesia on an unpredictable footing.
    Here’s another example of how the Ruddock Report move is going to create chaos. These issues won’t go away now the light has been shone.
    The charming Janet Albrechtsen says that religious groups had better stop praying for a human rights act to protect religious freedom in Australia.
    More from Andrew Leigh as he explains why unions are key to workers’ wage growth.
    The SMH editorial goes to the NSW Ombudsman’s report on cases from the NDIS abuse and neglect hotline to make the point out that it is high time that NSW acted to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
    Harriet Alexander writes about some of the horrible cases the Ombudsman looked at.
    Hamish McDonald tells us that it did not take long, after the worst instance of anti-Jewish violence in United States history, for Donald Trump to return to the xenophobic theme he sees as a winner for Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections.
    David Crowe says that the Greens will seek to shame Labor by vowing to restore the carbon tax.
    Greg Sheridan unloads on Turnbull whose misery, he says, has no limit.
    And Phil Coorey tells us that Turnbull won’t go away quietly.
    Mike Seccombe outlines how behind the snap decision to remove all asylum-seeker children from Nauru was a carefully orchestrated campaign to harness the power of the News Corp tabloids.
    Malcolm Knox writes that cricket in Australia is speeding towards a civil war and only one man can stop it – Steve Smith.
    The Judge in the Rush defamation case is getting angry with the Daily Telegraph and its legal team.
    Crispin Hull talks about the inevitability of living life dependent on Google.
    Jack Waterford writes that it’s time to pull the curtain on memorial industry and says that we should honour veterans by caring for them, and by telling them, and us, the truth.
    Rising prices for petrol and food are eating into household budgets threatening to further weigh on consumer spending and drag down economic growth that has only just picked up after years in the doldrums.
    Michael Koziol writes about Sky News sacking the odious Ross Cameron.
    Barnaby Joyce says he was wrong to dismiss concerns of Nazism within the National party just hours after likening an investigation into the matter to a McCarthyist witch hunt.
    Peter van Onselen tells us how the vetoing of university study grants by then education minister Simon Birmingham was the action of a petty bureaucrat.
    And Van Badham says that Simon Birmingham is the one who needs a history lesson in western civilisation.
    The votes on 6 November will give US voters their first chance to pass judgment on Donald Trump since he took the White House. Here’s what you need to know about what’s at stake.
    And Jonathan Freedland explains why these Trump midterms will affect everyone – not just Americans.
    African gang attacks are back in the news in Melbourne again.
    And the Victorian Liberal Party seems to be engaging in some dirty tricks in front of the election.
    We need to embrace ecological economics in order to achieve a better working national infrastructure, writes Stephen Williams as he proposes a ten point plan for sustainability.
    The Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, has used money earmarked for alleviating Indigenous disadvantage to fund a fishing industry lobby group he used to chair. What a clown!
    Karen Middleton writes that Australia’s security and intelligence agencies are on a drive to improve public trust as they seek more intrusive powers, with the head of the powerful Home Affairs Department, Mike Pezzullo, declaring the social contract they have with the public has been damaged and needs to be redrawn.
    The Adani mining company has still not signed a royalties agreement with the Queensland government, despite its claims to be just weeks away from green-lighting the Carmichael mine.
    Elizabeth Farrelly writes about the joy of being independent of the electricity grid.
    Cole Latimer reports that power bills for Sydney households are set to drop but it’s a different story for country NSW residents following the energy regulator’s decision on the revenues poles and wires companies can collect.
    Oil and gas giants will be hit with a $6 billion tax hike over the next decade following years of concern that Australia has been haemorrhaging lucrative revenue to multinationals.
    The Government has prioritised economically supporting the fossil fuels industry instead of tackling urgent climate change issues, writes Philip Soos.
    According to figures requested by the Reason Party, legalising cannabis and personal drug use would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and benefit an overwrought legal system.
    Paula Matthewson says that for the casual observer of Australian politics, there’s been one notable absence from most of our news streams in recent times. Labor leader Bill Shorten has been almost as hard to find in the headlines as he was on the streets of Wentworth during the recent by-election.
    Sally Whyte reports that outsourced employment consultants who are not required to have qualifications have used their powers to impose 5.2 million penalties on welfare recipients since July 2015.
    The Trump administration will on Monday reinstate tough sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from a nuclear deal brokered by Barack Obama in 2015.
    Why most users don’t need Apple’s new iPad Pros.
    And we conclude today’s round up with an “Arsehole of the Week” nomination.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe is suggesting Morrison has had his fill of problems.

    Another poetic contribution from Mark David.

    Paul Zanetti with some wishful thinking by Morrison and Dutton.

    Matt Golding gets fair dinkum.

    And he does a bit of pork barrelling.

    David Pope has an omnipotent Brendan Nelson at the War Memorial.
    Jon Kudelka and another fence in the bush.
    More in here.

    • BK thanks for your news roundup

      I am truly shocked by Canberra Times reporter Sally White’s poor command of English grammar – she struggles with prepositions using at, in, on and by incorrectly

  4. That Paul Kelly article has to read to be believed. The two most astonishing things that stood out for me, the big businesses are too progressive, and the half a billion dollar spend on the war memorial is a brilliant piece of work.

    • I never read anything from Kelly, but today I had a look.

      i couldn’t get past the first paragraph.

      “History moves in cycles and the end of an era is approaching. Scott Morrison’s personal energy levels, retail political skills and community-based leadership cannot hold back the political tides when they start running.”

      So much tosh in two sentences! That has to be some sort of record.

      ScumMo’s “personal energy levels”? It’s a stunt, this Energiser Bunny act. He puffs after a couple of seconds of pretend football. It doesn’t take “personal energy” to keep on announcing brainfarts.

      “Political skills”? He has none. Just look at the way he stumbles from self-made crisis to self-induced stuff-up. He’s about as politically skillful as the dead grasshopper one of the cats left on the kitchen floor this morning.

      “Community-based leadership”? What the hell is that? Whatever it is we aren’t getting it from ScumMo. He’s the boss, he makes the decisions, he won’t allow anyone else to have an opinion – that’s the impression I get from his behaviour so far.

      He’s publicity-hungry, he’s desperate to get his photo on front pages and top of the news each night, so desperate he almost pushed Prince Harry off the Harbour Bridge in his attempt to get his ugly mug in the centre of a photo. He’s unable to control his back-bench, he has Abbott sniping from the sidelines and Barnaby making an arse of himself with conflicting comments about Neo-Nazi Nats. He started a war with Malcolm that won’t end well for him. He almost killed the FTA with Indonesia. In a brief flash of self-awareness he realised he wasn’t capable of handling high-level political talks at the Pacific Islands Forum so he sent Malcolm, the man he thought wasn’t up to the job of being PM ….

      I could go on, and on but there’s too much to list.It’s only been a couple of months and already ScumMo’s only successes seem to be putting Labor further ahead in the polls and moving Bill Shorten up a few points as preferred PM.

    • He’s wrong for another reason. The current government have been running a defensive line since at least the 2014 Budget. Maybe even earlier than that – I’d put it at around the time Hockey started shouting at the car industry, late 2013. That was the first time Australians realised the government they’d voted for wasn’t the government they were getting. It’s not a recent development at all.

      The first leadership challenge – Abbott vs the empty chair – came in early 2015. There was your first indication that nobody particularly wanted to lead the Liberals; things were already so dire they had to wait until Turnbull could be persuaded to bring his personal support to the table. It’s all been downhill, and what we’re seeing now is just raking over the remains of the crash.

    • Basically, the malaise was seeded within the Liberals long before they took office, and all it could do was play out. I along with others was lamenting the deliberate paucity of their electoral pitch for 2013, that the promise that rescinding the carbon tax and cutting red/green tape wasn’t going to do anything for the economy, or ‘pay off the debt’, the bedrock promise of the party at the time. They walked into office without a plan, just a sales pitch.

  5. Leone

    Yep that first paragraph was a real doozy, and like a horror movie that I couldn’t take my eyes off. When you are bored or sad some day it is worth a read. It gets even worse with every sentence and paragraph. I had a grimace on my face while shaking my head in disbelief. It has made my day.

    • Here…The site can use this article for a “Thread starter” too if you want….I’m not prejudiced…after all, it contains all those elements we left-thinking people hold dear to our hearts and minds…no need for self-censorship, nor hold to that old “Howard” adage of : “WE will decide . . . “….so go for it I say!…and let’s get the show on the road to a new horizon!..Let us proceed with “poetic persuasion” rather than cut and paste predictability…after all, most of us who are politically astute see it all on Twitter anyway!

  6. Abbott offends – again.

    Tony Abbott says: ‘Thank you for putting up with the invasion’

    Nothing to do with his remarks, but gee I wish he would buy some bigger shirts. That two sizes too small straining at the buttons look is not becoming on anyone, especially not on a man of his age. I know he says he’s “still young”, but he’s not. He will be 61 tomorrow. (Happy Birthday, almost-pension-age Tony!) It’s time he grew up.

    The pants look a bit too tight as well.

  7. Y’see..here’s the problem I’m up against..: I like to write articles..some topical to the political moment, some rather esoteric..but that’s alright..humanity does not live on political bread alone! And I like, as does any scribbler, to have a degree of discussion arise from an idea or notion I put out in the public arena..: “The information superhighway” as they say. Sure, I have my own blog and I place them on there as well as dropping them on twitter..which, I have to say not in a shy way, I get varying amounts of hits upon…sometimes only a few..sometimes many..and a good degree of commentary..ON TWITTER!…but as any of you are aware, Twitter only allows for a short comment…NOT a drawn out examination of the subject argued…and the private blog rarely attracts more than those notional “followers”…
    I have been using Twitter as a blog…placing my pieces up and then “copying the post” to Twitter for repeated placements…for given the short space of time a Twitter post remains on the page..say 30 seconds..it is difficult to get more than a synopsis up. This is where Blogging on an established site comes into its own…Not a personal site like yours truly, but a Public Blog…one that is open to everybody to post and declaim their opinion to the whole wide effing world!
    And then we come to this…
    I admit I had a falling out with “the management” over my attitude and repeated calls for a “To change the rules, we need to change the ruling class!”… From that basic difference of class distinction, all contention has grown…to the point where NOTHING I write or comment upon is noticed, noted, nullified or discussed on blog…Sure…I get some who wander from the link I post come to my blog, read the article..sometimes comment and to which I reply…but it is almost as if one can ….”f-e-e-l” the disapproval of certain folk scowling down on those ungrateful “peasants” (you gotta spit that word out) wandering from THEIR elixir of political approval!
    Now c’mon!…let’s get real…denying a thing is not solving a thing…all these cut and paste links and bits and pieces from Twitter or elsewhere are well and good..and sometimes an accompanying examination IS very informative…but it’s no substitute for a damn solid thrust of a Header argument…which is the nub and core of why these public blogs exist…Aguirre gives good discussion on the page, as does Puffy and several others…even Leone makes her presence felt with her own idiosyncratic SLAP! of attention hand sharply onto the discussion table… But we need to bring more sensitivity to the blog…more personalised opinion straight from the heart and less just as back-up to external approval…After all, THIS is what left-wing blogging is all about..: Passion with persuasion!
    Can we do it??….Yes we can!

  8. This is utter BS! ! !

    As I understand it, the Governor of NSW does not drive on the road – a previous governor used to enjoy getting back to his marginally productive hobby farmlet so he could drive the paddock bomb.

    So if a state Governor isn’t allowed to drive on a gazetted road, I really can’t see that a Prime Minister is allowed to drive

  9. Freefall

    Leone and BK are in charge of the day to day running of the site but I still own it and keep a eye on what is happening

    The Pub is just fine the way it is.You have your own blog that is freely available to anyone who wishes to go there and read what you have to say. You can’t come here after a while away and then demand that we change the place to suit you. Obviously The Pub isn’t robust enough for you so maybe you would be better off over the road or maybe go onto Bolts blog and have it out with the right wingers there.

    The Pub will not be changing anything .

    • ‘Carpet Bombing” was a well-known effort to insert oneself into a hitherto harmless forum in the early days of internet discussion boards. It always involved the ‘lookatme, lookhere’ at what I’m desirous to press-gang on the Forum whether any relevence exists. I adminded a couple in the dial-up days..

      Luckily, as a long-time uninvolved reader and appreciator of This Forum, I’ve yet to see a real drama that has caused the slightest discard amongst the members.
      I wish free fall in the forest the best zen audience he can raise.

      This is my last missive for a bit.


  10. Bill Maher –

    Starts at 5:30 mark, new rules at 56:15 (vid will probably be edited later so timing will change)

    Overtime – get it while it’s hot.

  11. So, the Victorian election’s 3 weeks away, and lately I’m feeling pretty confident of a Labor victory. At least on the ground in Ballarat.

    I remember how it was this time in 2014. The Liberals had their candidates’ billboards and such up for 3 months prior. But this time they’re way more scarce.

    Might be personal bias too, but the Liberal candidates for Ballarat’s 2 seats are pretty awful. For Wendouree there’s Amy Johnson, infamous for the 2012 local council election, where she stood as an Independent, but revealed she was a member of the Liberal party the day after she was elected.

    And then for Buninyong there’s Andrew Kilmartin, who gleefully spat venom about Labor through the Gillard years when he was reading the news every hour on the local radio station. I hope they both lose and lose hard.

    Furthermore, Labor’s put up pretty aggressive advertising themselves. They’re in for a fight here, especially since Ballarat would have been a particularly vulnerable city on a bad year for them. Both Sharon Knight and Geoff Howard retiring on margins around 6%, then there’s the neighboring Ripon with a Liberal MP on 0.9%. But I have the feeling that Wendouree and Buninyong are fairly safe holds for Labor, and with Ballarat’s continually expanding outer suburbs, Ripon might now be on the table as a Labor gain.

  12. Well, hopefully Labor wins both Morwell and Bass too.

    I really hope Labor wins both of Ballarat’s seats. I’ve met both Juliana Addison and Michaela Settle and they’re both really nice and charismatic ladies and I think they really deserve to win this.

    • I hope so too given that there’s no hope for Gippsland East and Gippsland South, even though the two Nats there are just useless.

  13. Gippy Laborite

    Yes, our bloke is as useless at tits on a Bull, all talk and no action. He has a permanent sign at our local footy club as a “sponsor” and adverts on our local radio station, also as a ‘sponsor’, but that is all he does.

Comments are closed.