June 29, 2012
Personally I thought the coalition should have supported legislation to lessen legal impediments to offshore processing, whether sponsored by the government or Oakeshott, even if that allowed implementation of the unconscionable (and mind-blowingly stupid) Malaysian solution. Government should have broad powers to protect the integrity of Australia’s borders. At the same time, the coalition’s principled position that asylum seekers should be placed only in those countries which have signed the Refugee Convention is defensible and honourable. But wherever you stand on this matter, criticism of the coalition and Tony Abbott is cant and hypocrisy of the first order.
First, it is not Tony Abbott’s job to protect Australia’s borders. It is the government’s job. If the government believes that the Malaysian solution is the only prescription capable of doing that and it cannot pass the relevant “essential” legislation, even when hiding behind Oakeshott’s skirts, it should call an election. It is as simple as that.
The government can’t just sit idly by while our borders are continually and increasingly breached and blame the opposition for not supporting a particular piece of legislation. That is both ludicrous and untenable, as is yet another pointless filibustering inquiry.
Second, those in the Labor Party who now support offshore processing, while protesting its inhumanity when Howard was in charge, are obviously rank hypocrites. Now they not only support offshore processing but support sending children to a country which refuses to sign the Refugee Convention. What a perfidious and shameful turnabout is that?
Third, we have those unctuous commentaries in the media partly blaming Abbott for not “compromising”. Peter van Onselen was at it in The Australian for example. The commentators are all careful not to spell out what this compromise might look like. At least give Abbott a clue.
Will this compromise mean acquiescing to the Malaysian solution? Let me take a guess. I think it would. So it is no compromise at all. It is asking the coalition to abandon its principled position and give the government what it wants. That is to send children to a non-signatory to the Refugee Convention with a suspect human rights record. And Doug Cameron, among other human rights luminaries on the left, shamefully voted for that; while weaselling that it was necessary to save lives. Better to come clean and use the Nuremberg defense.
There are no two sides to the argument. The government is charged with protecting our borders. It is its most important responsibility, bar none. If it can’t fulfil that responsibility it has no option but to call an election. Failing that the Governor General should dismiss the government and hand the baton to Tony Abbott on the condition he immediately call an election. I seem to remember that occurring before when a government could not pass an essential piece of legislation. The precedent is relevant and sound.
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