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“Christmas Island and Nauru are – superficially – very similar. Both are…hundreds of kilometres from the nearest land. Both are hot, sticky and sun-drenched. Both have phosphate mines…

But there the similarities end and one crucial difference emerges. Christmas Island…is Australian territory. Nauru – slighly closer to Australia’s north-east – is not.

This explains why, this year alone, almost 10,000 asylum seekers have set sail for the former – and why some of them will be furious when, next week, they are flown to the latter.

… Anyone who claims asylum on Australian soil – and Christmas Island counts – is given the chance to prove they are a genuine refugee. Those who succeed have, in the past, been given the right to stay anywhere in Australia.

This is what the United Nations expects: Australia has signed the Convention on Human Rights…

instead of automatically being considered for asylum in Australia, boat arrivals will be flown straight to Nauru, outside Australia’s jurisdiction. Their asylum claims will still be considered, but through a process run by the United Nations, not Australia. That process could take years. And although the details are still vague as to how it will legally achieve this, Australia’s government insists it will be under no obligation to give provide sanctuary even to those found to be genuine refugees.

The message is meant to sound tough. And the camp in Nauru looks like it. In one of the hottest, most humid spots on an already hot, humid island stand about 20 tents. Each will sleep five men. There’s an open-sided recreational hall and a few plaster-board shacks for toilets. This will eventually be home for 500 people – for weeks, months, potentially even years.

Nauru – the world’s second smallest country – welcomes the camp. Australia is its biggest benefactor, so it owes the regional super-power a few favours; anyway, the camp will generate jobs and money just as the last one did.

…But, beyond Australia’s borders, people who Australia would once have judged to be genuine refugees won’t be able to make their case. Suffering will disappear from Australian TV screens, but out of sight it will remain as real as ever, and lives that would once have found a purpose in Australia will be lived in limbo instead.”