Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

pipe dreams .....

pipe dreams .....

It's time to end the blame game - and it's time Tony Abbott made it possible for Julia Gillard to implement the policy she insists will make tragedies like the one that unfolded last night less likely.

It's also time both sides recognised that the shrill, tit-for-tat debate about who bears responsibility for the spike in boat arrivals is not just undermining public support for asylum seekers and Australia's humanitarian program. It has become its own pull factor.

The irony is that both sides of politics believe a deterrent, in the form of offshore processing, is required to make asylum seekers think again before risking their lives in leaky boats. They disagree on what form it should take.

So far, all the concessions have been on the part of the elected government and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, who has agreed to beef up protections for those who would be sent to Malaysia as part of the people-swap agreement that the High Court found to be illegal.

To entice the opposition to pass legislation to make it legal, he has also agreed to establish an independent inquiry on the efficacy of the Coalition's plan to reintroduce temporary protection visas, or TPVs; and to reopen a processing centre on Nauru (the Coalition's policy).

But there have been no concessions on the part of the Coalition, whose hypocrisy and cynicism on this issue seems to know no bounds. Instead, the rhetoric just gets richer, with Gillard accused of ''running up the white flag on border protection'' and ''rolling out the red carpet to the people smugglers''.

The emphatic view of experts in the area, such as the United Nations refugee agency's Richard Towle, is that unilateral, quick-fix measures such as the Malaysian people-swap won't of themselves resolve the deeper issues behind people movements. I agree.

It's also true that, leaving aside the immorality of punishing one group of asylum seekers to change the behaviour of others, many questions remain about the Malaysian deal - such as whether the promised protections for those who would be sent from Christmas Island to Malaysia will be guaranteed.

But the government is sticking stubbornly to its advice that the Malaysia agreement will have an immediate impact on boat numbers, and maybe provide the space to do more on other, multilateral fronts.

It's time Abbott let Gillard put that advice to the test.

Time To Stop Fingerpointing & Start Being Constructive