Bernard Keane in today's Crikey writes what I've been wondering all weekend. Just what is it that the opposition think the Government is covering up?
You want to know a REAL cover-up? What about the Black Saturday bushfires? 173 people died. Australians, too, not wife-r-ping towelheads. Apparently some of those fires were deliberately lit. And months on, John Brumby and Kevin Rudd still haven’t told us what really happened and who was responsible.
What are they hiding?
What’s that? Something about coronial inquiries? Criminal investigations? Well, they WOULD say that, wouldn’t they.
Surely the Government is covering up SOMETHING about the explosion aboard the boat carrying dozens of Afghans last week. Maybe Helen Liu was involved. Or the bikies who entered the Lodge. There’s another cover-up. The Prime Minister hasn’t explained that either.
The incessant demands for the Government to reveal what happened aboard the vessel are absurd. There was an explosion. People died. Someone caused it, either accidentally or intentionally. Prosecutions may ensue. If and when someone on that boat is brought to trial for what occurred, the chances of a fair trial (in Darwin, despite Colin Barnett seeming to think this has some special West Australian significance) are diminished every time someone opens their mouth.
And if the explosion resulted because the people aboard thought they were going to be returned to Indonesia, what exactly does that demonstrate in relation to the Government’s handling of border protection, except that it is dealing with desperate, ignorant people?
What exactly is being covered up?
Bloody good question.
If the boat (now known as SIEV 36 (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel) was purposefully set on fire by someone spreading petrol and lighting it, how does that affect the Government? Does Turnbull think there was a Government backbencher on board spreading the petrol he had bought with a union funded credit card??
Now if the boat exploded accidentally, how does that affect the Government? Again it doesn't.
Nothing the Government has done or not done caused anyone to try and blow up the boat.
It's like blaming the Government for someone trying to smuggle in an exotic bird, and the bird dying (or was it killed???) in customs.
And the opposition saying the Government should say what happened is like demanding a Government say how a car accident that killed 5 people happened and say there's a cover-up because one guy has said a person told him that someone said it looked like the driver was drunk.
Any sane person would say we should wait for the police to do their investigation. Well here 5 people have died and the police are doing an investigation.
The Liberals should shut up and let the police do their job.
Truth will out.
The only reason the Liberals want to keep talking about it now is because they think this is a winner. But let's look at what Turnbull said today about what the Liberals would do differently.
He has said they would bring back Temporary Protection Visas (or at least "put them at the top of the agenda"). Wow, they must have been great things. You know who first came up with them?
Ever heard of Pauline Hanson. Yep in 1998 One Nation policy was:
“temporary refuge for those who meet the UN definition of a refugee, with repatriation when the situation resolves”.
How did the Howard Government react?Philip Ruddock said they were:
“highly unconscionable in a way that most thinking people would clearly reject”. Temporary entry would mean “that people would never know whether they would be able to remain here. There would be uncertainty, particularly in terms of attention given to learning English, (and) in addressing the torture and trauma so they healed from some of the tremendous physical and psychological wounds they have suffered.”
As we now know, he changed his mind. The Howard Government brought them in, and the numbers of women and children attempting to come in by boat increased because the TPV's prevented spouses and children from joining refugees - so they came with instead. They also denied access to English language programs.
All they did was punish the refugees.
If Malcolm Turnbull wants to go back to that. Go for it. Well done Malcolm, it only took you 7 months as leader to sell your soul. You must be so proud. At least we all now know you're an empty suit.
And unfortunately for him, Kevin Rudd is a bloody smart politician. What does he do today? He tells us we're going to go into recession. Turnbull's response?
Mr Turnbull told ABC Radio's PM program the announcement at the Adelaide jobs fair was made at an interesting time.
"It is a classic Rudd tactic isn't it? It's a distraction," he said.
"He isn't able to provide Australians with the facts about the tragic events involving the unauthorised boat that blew up recently that had the tragic fire in which so many people were injured and three people were killed.
Yep, Turnbull is now on record as saying the economy is "a distraction".
So it's 49 boat people versus the economy and the global financial crisis.
Which do you think people really, really care about? Which issue do you really, really think people will be worried about when they vote at the next election?
Think carefully Malcolm...
I'll give you a clue. Bill Clinton never had a slogan saying "It's the boat people stupid".