Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has hit out at the ABC for “repeating and recycling” claims that Australian border protection officers burned the hands of asylum seekers.
In January, the ABC reported allegations that naval officers deliberately burned the hands of asylum seekers on hot engine parts after boarding the vessel being sent back to Indonesia.
The Abbott government has repeatedly denied the claims, with senior figures demanding an apology from the national broadcaster for maligning the navy.
ABC Television’s 7.30 program on Monday revisited the story, speaking to a Sudanese asylum seeker who alleged officers burnt his hand intentionally after stopping him from using the toilet.
Mr Morrison said the latest ABC report was “a repetition of baseless claims, nothing more than that”.
The allegations had been rejected by the navy, Customs and government, he said.
“The government stands by all its rejections of these insulting and insensitive claims,” he told ABC radio.
“If the ABC just wants to keep repeating and recycling these claims, well they can, but the government will continue to strenuously deny them.”
Mr Morrison said he believed the navy’s original assessment of the allegations, and not “what I saw last night”.
“I don’t find what was said last night any more credible than what was said two months ago. Nothing’s moved on. I suggest the ABC should,” he said.
Earlier this month an independent audit into the ABC’s coverage of asylum seekers found only some isolated cases of bias.
Former 60 Minutes executive producer Gerald Stone assessed a sample of 97 stories between August 2012 and December 2013, and concluded 93 were impartial. But he did not review the ABC’s coverage of the abuse claims.