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Its taken Labor five years to finally admit that the Coalition was right about Asylum Seekers and its been five years of utter bullshit from them. Of course Gillard is insisting that her retread of the Pacific solution is the idea of her so called expert committee but we all know that the main function of that little cadre was to give Gillard a way of back-flipping without losing to much face in the process. Not that it matters that much for her political fortunes because she is still in a no win situation on this issue. When the flood of boats slows to a trickle she won’t earn much respect from the public who will quite rightly be reminded of just who created the problem in the first place.
Caucus agreed to the Houston package, after Left MPs’ objections to indefinite mandatory detention on Nauru and Manus were voted down, as was a move by Left convener Doug Cameron for a delay to give caucus time to consider the report. The government agreed to a proposal for caucus to monitor the detention regime.
The panel was set up at the end of the last parliamentary session to come up with a way to break the political deadlock that has rendered the government impotent to act against the increasing flow of boats.
While urging a regional solution, the panel said that a short-term ”circuit breaker to reduce the attractiveness of Australia as a destination” was needed. Legislation for offshore processing was urgent, it said. Mr Houston said the panel had accepted Nauru and Manus because they were ”implementable straight away”.
The panel also said that boat people should lose their access to family reunions under the humanitarian program – which means they would have to take their chances through the family stream of the general migration program.
The report said there were concerns about the protections and human rights aspects of the Malaysia agreement from ”a wide range” of groups and individuals. It called for better protections and a more effective monitoring mechanism.
The panel said of the opposition’s policy of turning boats back that the conditions did not currently exist for it – Indonesia would not accept them and people smugglers had more sophisticated tactics in sabotaging the attempts.
Mr Morrison said the Houston panel had ”green-lighted Nauru and they have red-lighted Malaysia and the people swap in its current form”.
The blueprint from the panel, which included refugee expert Paris Aristotle and former Foreign Affairs secretary Michael L’Estrange, was condemned by the Greens and refugees advocates.
Greens leader Christine Milne said her party would not accept measures that were cruel to people.
Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International’s refugee spokesperson, said the government’s action showed short-term political gains trumping Australia’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention.
But Mr Houston said the prospect of further losses of life at sea demanded ”urgent and decisive action ” by Parliament. Since October 2009, 604 people had lost their lives.
Another boat arrived yesterday, with 87 people on board – but they came before the deadline and will not be subject to offshore processing.
Of course the big question is will it stop the flow of boats and the subsequent drownings? I certainly hope it does. No one likes to see the sort of tragedies that we have witnessed on Labor’s watch. Now despite all of the instance that the Australian people did not like Howard’s pacific solution I find it rather satisfying to see that a whopping 87% of readers of the Fairfax piece I quote above endorse PS2. Just imagine what that means when Tony Abbott wins the next election and we can have the bright shiney and much improved PS3! Because any gamer can tell you that the PS3 is far better than the PS2!
Ok puns back in the box how is this going to fly as a means of Gillard countering Abbott’s “stop the boats” mantra?
As I see it playing out its still a lose lose situation for Labor because of it is effective in stopping the boats the Coalition will quite rightly point out that going back to what worked before does not abrogate the responsibility that Labor carries for stuffing up a system that worked in the first place, and if it does not work as well as they hope then the Coalition can still attack them over its shortcomings or talk about inertia in the Asylum seeker pipeline.
Gillard obviously hopes that it will work and get the issue off the front burner, and she might just get that wish however I doubt that it will be enough to save her from political oblivion at the next election
- PM backs offshore asylum-seeker plan (dailytelegraph.com.au)
- Australia to deport boat asylum seekers to Pacific islands (guardian.co.uk)
- Asylum experts advise return to ‘Pacific Solution’ (rowenadelarosayoon.wordpress.com)
- After 604 deaths at sea … (smh.com.au)
- Coalition throws down gauntlet (smh.com.au)
- Offshore solution push (theage.com.au)
- Pacific Solution Mark II (theage.com.au)
- Reopen Nauru, Manus centres: panel (news.theage.com.au)
- ‘It’s time to get something done’ (dailytelegraph.com.au)
- Labor caves on asylum seekers (smh.com.au)