Australian author and commentator George Megalogenis criticised the Australian government on Monday in a Q&A session for “out-Trumping” American politician Donald Trump in matters relating to refugees and asylum seekers.

Megalogenis made the comparisons on ABC’s Q&A current affairs program the same day a 21-year-old Somalian asylum seeker got critically injured after setting herself on fire in a Nauru detention centre.

The author expressed concerns over the damage the harsh asylum seeker policies are having on Australia’s image.

“It doesn’t matter how many boats come or don’t, if one person a week is setting themselves alight, sooner or later it is going to target our consciousness that we’re holding hostage hundreds of people because we can’t sort this out,” the Mail Online quoted him as saying. “I think in the long run, the world, when it pays attention to Australia, wants to see a good citizen because we are quite well off, we have been able to manage prosperity better than any other society over the long haul.”

He added, “When we start playing other games, trying to be the nastiest country in the region, trying to be the nastiest – out-Trumping Trump before Trump had even been invented in terms of asylum seeker policy – I think it’s only a matter of time before our luck runs out.”

According to him, it is time for Australian politicians to find a way to tackle the rising crisis at the detention centres.

James Fallows, an American writer and journalist who was one of the panellists on the same episode, noted that none of the other countries at the moment is doing too well in this regard also.

“Angela Merkel is having terrible trouble in Germany because of a relatively liberal policy. The rest of Europe is splitting itself apart,” the quoted him as saying.” We have Trump in the United States and I think that this is an example of a problem of human inequality, of combat, of cruelty around the world that will make all of our countries look and be bad until … the actual sources that are making people flee around the world are addressed.”