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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

doing a deal with Abbott? « Previous | |Next »
September 5, 2011

The Coalition is keen to revive its old strategy of warehousing asylum seekers in Nauru and in Papua New Guinea---a Pacific solution Mark II.This policy is being used as part of the background scratching of the conservative noise machine with the Murdoch media setting the agenda for regime change.

Behind the noisy scratching of "we want an election now" is the policy reality that 61 per cent of the people on Manus Island and Nauru who were found to be refugees were resettled in Australia; and that offshore processing looks increasingly difficult after the High Court's decision.

Though Nauru has joined PNG as a signatory to the refugee conventions, both countries need to insure practical compliance'' with their obligations and they must comply ''in practice with human-rights standards acceptable at least to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees''. The inference is that offshore processing could result in another legal challenge.


One possibility suggested by the High Court is a deal with Nauru that kept asylum seekers effectively in Australia's hands would satisfy the requirements of the Migration Act. If so, why bother with Nauru? Why not do the processing onshore? Isn't onshore processing with brief mandatory detention the ALP's platform?

Abbott is contesting the government's interpretations of the Solicitor-General's (Stephen Gageler,) the written opinion, and saying if Labor wants to put the situation beyond doubt, he would support legislation to change the Migration Act to cover Nauru and PNG. Abbott is endeavoring to exploit what he perceives as Gillard's lack of authority and the weakness of minority government.

The desire of both political parties sides is to keep offshore processing as a policy because they see it as the strongest option to act as a deterrent to asylum seekers. They do not want bulging detention centres, years of delays and endless legal appeals from asylum seekers through the Australian courts. The ALP right are basically Howard lite, and they are eager to embrace the Coalition's Nauru option and TPV's.

A far better option is to accept on shore processing and, as a reforming government, work towards some sort of regional co-operation across southeast Asia on the matter of stateless and displaced people. Malaysia was a flawed start. It was an attempt to avoid other countries being put in a situation where they are a way-station for people en route to Australia.

So Australia should cooperate with them. It's what governing means on this issue. There is no policy paralysis here.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:09 AM | | Comments (15)


The Australian's advice is to not cave into Labor's Left and the Greens and abandon offshore processing, further increasing the "pull" factors that encourage people-smugglers.

The best option is:

to accept Tony Abbott's sensible offer of bipartisan support to alter the Migration Act to put the legality of offshore processing beyond doubt.

it acknowledges that accepting a huge slice of humble pie in the form of the opposition's offer would be deeply galling for Julia Gillard, who is mired in a deep political trough amid leadership speculation.
With the next election scheduled for August 2013, the short- to medium-term political opprobrium of the Migration Act being amended and the media coverage of one of the Howard government's processing centres reopening would do Labor less harm in the long run than another 5000 boatpeople arriving over the next two years, which in the absence of offshore processing would require more detention centres in Australia to add to those already bursting at the seams.

The Coalition is running hard on government incompetence. Surprisingly they are saying little about unelected judges meddling in the running of the country.

given choice on just about anything, this government seems to prefer the stupid option. You could bet they're seriously considering Abbott's offer, thinking it will make the issue go away.

have you noticed how the conservatives can say all kinds of crazy stuff---hey, I don’t buy this global warming junk science--- and get away with it in the media apart from the odd leftwinger?

Somehow its as if the media accept that their words don't mean anything really as its just them talking to their base to prove they are one of them--eg., I love the Big miners; I love free market capitalism.

We are probably seeing now the beginnings of a change in game plans for the coalition. They will start to look like the people that can work with and get things done. As opposed to those that stuff things up. They cant rely solely on Labor looking bad.

Coalition supporters from think tanks and business groups have been saying that for a while now but they don't seem to getting very far. Maybe partly because, as Gary said, journalists don't ask them about policy.

Tony Abbott's one man circus and his support acts from Crazies Inc. is all very entertaining, but what do they plan to actually do in government?

Mind you, they almost won the last election with no policies. Maybe the country can run itself for 3 years while Tony runs around having beers with steel workers and filleting fish.

It's all about the lash isn't it.

The Coalition desire to lash the body of Gillard; to punish her for being a bad girl and grabbing power and taking it away from them. They want their revenge.

The NSW Right are the bully boys who just loved being lashed by Mistress Revenge who yells its the big lie and its a big new tax over and over again.


I've got the impression it's less about competition between Labor and the coalition, and more about a personal thing between Gillard and Abbott. Take either of them out of the equation and I can't see the current idiocy continuing.

It would be better for us all if they just got a room.

Nan says:
"The Coalition is running hard on government incompetence. Surprisingly they are saying little about unelected judges meddling in the running of the country."

Janet Albrechtsen High Court gets on its high horse, flexing its interventionist muscle obliges in The Australian:

The High Court, on the other hand, has no such democratic constraints and more than once we have seen judges and courts in this country defer to the apparent brilliance of their own progressive minds. Nowhere is the divide between the progressive mind-set and that of middle Australia more evident than when it comes to immigration.

The irony is that the majority of the High Court read s.198A of the Migration Act as it was written. It deciding on an issue never previously brought before it.

Successive Australian governments have tried to find a way to remove asylum seekers from protections of Australian law and “break the people smugglers’ business model”, as the government’s slogan now puts it. Nauru worked for a while, but only because it wasn’t challenged.

The amendments to the Migration Act to support the Howard government’s 'Pacific solution' were drafted by the Coalition in 2001.

a deal?
The ALP says no to Nauru. The Coalition says no to Malaysia. Yet both want to ensure off shore processing. Yet they cannot agree even when it is their interest to agree ie., they both oppose onshore detention because it gives asylum seekers access to courts and delays possible deportation for years.

Both major parties want to take a "tough" line on border protection;but they spend all their time fighting each other over detail.

Greg Sheridan agrees with Janet Albrechtsen:

This decision is part of the disturbing Europeanisation of Australia's political culture, in this case by accelerating the trend in which courts, quasi-judicial bodies and bureaucratic advocacy institutions usurp the rights of elected parliaments..The dissenting judgment by judge Dyson Heydon is not only far better written, it is compelling in its reasoning.

Sheridan adds that the "High Court has damaged our democracy by its judgment because, in my view, it has reversed the intention of parliament." He then goes further.
This is a very dangerous time for Australia because it could well be the moment when we lose control of our borders and start to go down the European road. Europe has been blighted by massive, sustained, illegal immigration from North Africa, which has used the categories of asylum and refugee to disable the normal policy response that a nation makes to control its borders.

He banging the drum of fear and loathing.

Sheridan obviously doesn't accept the separation of powers and thinks that Parliament is supreme in the sense that it can operate outside the law.

His argument is that the High Court cannot act to interpret the law, or to make a ruling as to what is or is not within the powers of a Minister. In other words the High Court cannot, and should not, act as a check on the misuse of Government power.

It's reported in the Fairfax media that the Immigration department in its advice to the Coalition judges that if we had a year of onshore processing, with probably more than 600 people arriving monthly, the detention system would simply overflow. Large numbers would have to go into the community; it'd be like Europe, with many asylum seekers about in the cities. There'd be social tensions; community support for migration generally and multiculturism would be put under strain.

According to the Department the asylum seekers are do-almost-anything people, determined to get to and stay in Australia.

So even the Department is engaging in scare tactics.

Some in the ALP Right are almost pleading for Abbott to help them with some changes to our immigration laws to put the Malaysia Solution back on the table.

They are whistling in the wind. Abbott's strategy is not to help Gillard out of a tricky situation. His strategy is to keep attacking Gillard until she weakens.

The Nauru option favoured by the Coalition won't stop the boats.

The Tampa election of 2001 is the marker of how the issue of refugee policy is being used to divide the Australian people and to foment xenophobic sentiment

Both the ALP and the Coalition and the Department of Immigration are engaged in tactics which demonise poor and desperate human beings.