Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Case of Electoral Wipeout – Blow Whistle, and Scare the Oldies

So yesterday a Newspoll comes out with the ALP ahead 56-44. The response from Tony Abbott? Did you really need to ask? It’s what any gutter-level Liberal Leader would do obviously – talk about Asylum Seekers and criminals in our suburbs (not that he is suggesting there is any link of course, he;s just mentioning them both in the same press conference).

Today Abbott was trying to get out a story about how tough on asylum seekers he would be. The Herald Sun courtesy of Steve Lewis bit and splashed it on the front page – big heading of “I WILL SHUT THE BORDER”. Oh really? Shut the border? Hmm let’s see what he would do. In a doorstop interview he gave on the issue of “CCTV cameras and crime; Kevin Rudd’s failed border protection policies” he said:

QUESTION: What specifically does ‘whatever it takes’ mean though?

TONY ABBOTT: Well there are four essential ingredients in an effective border protection policy. First, you’ve got to have some form of temporary visas so that the people smugglers don’t have a product, so that the people smugglers aren’t able to say if you get to Australia almost certainly you will get permanent residency.

So he’s going to bring back temporary visas which actually encourage people to bring their wives and kids by boat. Well done.

Second, you’ve got to have rigorous offshore processing.

Yeah, well we have that now.

Third, you’ve got to have good relations with source and transit countries, so you can try to cut off the flow of unauthorised arrivals.

OK, great – did Tony notice that we just had the President of Indonesia here in Australia addressing a joint sitting of Parliament? Guess he wants relations to go back to how they were with Indonesia for a good part of the Howard years…

Finally, under the right circumstances, you need to be able to turn boats around. Now, Mr Rudd promised before the election that he would be tough enough to turn the boats around. Not one has been turned around since he’s been Prime Minister.

Ah yes turn the boats around. How humane. And I’m sure that will help ensure his third point works – given that Indonesia was pissed when Howard and Co turned the boats around in 2001 – they actually had to keep it quiet. Here’s Alexander Downer talking about the issue last year to Fran Kelly:

The other thing we did, which we did more sotto voce was to tow the boats – I must say this is not something that has generated much publicity recently in Australia – we used to get the Navy not to guide the boats into the Australian shore line what we did was [laughs] we got the navy to tow the boats back to the Indonesian territorial waters, left the boats with enough fuel, food and so on to get to a port in Indonesia – guided them where to go – and them left them.

Obviously monitored them to make sure the boat was safe but disappeared over the horizon. And this worked very effectively, but we did this without any publicity, we didn’t run around boasting that we were doing this because we knew the Indonesian accepted these people back through gritted teeth.

So Indonesia had gritted teeth back when it was done on the quiet – anyone here think it will be kept quiet this time? Anyone here think Indonesia will be any more happy about it?

I do so love a logical policy.

One thing I would actually like someone in the media or opposition to do when they talk about asylum seekers as being evil “queue jumpers” is to show me the queue. The Libs and media (and yes, even people in the ALP) often talk about asylum seekers taking away spots from people who are legitimately waiting at refugee camps. So great: show me the queue. Show me how the numbers of refugees are chosen. Show me the orderly camp in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and point me to the people next in line on the queue. Show me where the Australian Government is saying – “sorry this guy came first, he comes in before you”. Show me the list. Please, I’d love to see it.

Because you know what, I’m betting no one can show me a queue in any logical sense of the word. I’m betting no one could go to a camp and show the person who is next due to be granted asylum in Australia. I’m betting if some journalist actually went to these camps she or he would find people who have been waiting for years, with no rhyme or reason was to why one gets in before another. I’m betting if a journalist asked any person in those camps not one person would be able to say when he or she or their family will be granted asylum.

I’d love to be proved wrong. But if there actually was a “queue” you’d be able to point to 50 people and say Australia was going to let these people in, but we’d used up our quota. Asylum seekers aren’t coming by boat (or airplane) just because they cant be bothered waiting a couple years, aside from fear of their lives, it’s because the wait in these camps is indefinite. There’s a big difference between someone saying, “You’ll have to wait here 2 years”, and someone saying, “You’ll have to wait here for maybe 2 years, maybe 5, maybe I don’t know how long… just wait”.

And here’s the final thing about “border protection”. How many asylum seeker boats have made it to Australia's mainland without being intercepted? Yeah that’d be none. Remember what it was like under Howard? I was living in Cairns in 1999 so I certainly remember when:

A 35-metre cargo boat with 26 Chinese illegal immigrants on board sailed unimpeded for three days and nights along the north Queensland coast between the Torres Strait and Cairns, before grounding itself on a beach just 10 kilometres from the Cairns business centre.

Now that is a case of poor border protection.

Abbott and his side kick Tony Smith also talked about increasing the use of CCTV in suburbs to prevent crime:

TONY SMITH: Well, look, just on the security cameras, this is a great example of a partnership between the local community and the then Howard Government. These security cameras have been a great success here but also at neighbouring shopping centres in Mooroolbark, Lilydale and Mt Evelyn and those federal grants, as Tony said, have enable the cameras to be switched on and local crime to be switched off.

Firstly, law and order is a state issue. People know this. People know our police are employed by sate governments. People know the federal government’s law and order issues are a hell of a lot bigger than graffiti at the local train station. It’s a dead give away that a Liberal leader is struggling in the polls when he starts talking about law and order issues – especially when the specific issues he mentions really have nothing to do with the federal government. Now admittedly the ALP does the same – they switch to Health and Education whenever they can. But which issue do you think is going to change votes at this election – local law and order or hospitals and health?

And here’s another thing, just last week Joe Hockey gave a speech that mentioned CCTVs – well that’s pretty good I hear you say, the Libs are working together as a team. Err not quite. Here’s what Hockey had to say:

Huxley’s Brave New World morphs from fiction into frightening fact – all by little increments and all in the name of just a little more security. But as Benjamin Franklin said: “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

In addition to this, we should be concerned about the rapid proliferation of CCTV cameras across our cities. Whilst they may be acceptable in crime hot spots do we really want to go down the path of Great Britain and find that it is impossible to travel any street without being recorded by the government or the police on video?

Even in my local area CCTV was set up to protect the welfare of revenue raising parking meters from vandals, but they have inadvertently provided a viewing platform of the local community going about its business. Even when they should be helpful such as during a recent bombing of TIO offices in Darwin, the Police were allegedly using the cameras for inappropriate and unrelated purposes.

Ah yes, working together as a team. The minor issue of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, but other than that, perfect.


Pica said...

Hi Grog, just had my first run around your inter-tube paddock - and I like it, so to get back to our little guessing game we stated at Poss's place, is it 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou?'

Rod said...

Another excellent piece Grog. This is the sort of critical analysis which our mainstream media should be doing. One wonders why it is that self-professed Christians like Abbott can be so devoid of compassion when it comes to asylum seekers.

phil said...

Dunno about left and right hands, but possibly right and "other right" maybe?

ron said...

unlike Rudd , you chosen to include a false arguemnt that boat people do not in a sense queue jump as if oz refugee program does not hav an orderly means of selectin assylum seekers when instead oz does , and so boats breach that clearly Trying to fool Public othrwise is wrong and weakens Public support Oz either abides by 1951 UN Conventon (that even Libs do not claim to withdraw from but wont fess up to) , and treat peoples humane or , turn boats back in high seas to certain death (which public will not suport)Your article focus on a flse asumption is not helpful to th Debate

Lad Litter said...

Great juxtaposition of right-wing contradictions. You've probably already seen the excellent article on the whole business from Peter van Onselen in the Oz. I know, I know, there's an excellent article in the Oz??!! Trust me:

Grog said...

It is a good article Lad Litter. I'm not a fan of PVO, but he did well with that one.