Greens’ Reality Check

The parliament has risen for the winter break and the past week was characterised by an emotional debate about asylum seeker policy. Everyone seems to agree that something needs to be done to prevent the continued trade by people smugglers – except the Greens.

There are still significant disagreements between Labor and the Coalition on how to do it. We favour a return to the proven policies of temporary protection visas (TPVs), offshore processing on Nauru and turning the boats around where it is safe to do so.

Thus far, the hapless Prime Minister and her incompetent Cabinet refuse to accept that the legislative changes she designed have actually given the people smugglers a product to peddle. Some of the more sensible Labor people – not coincidentally the same group who know ‘brand Gillard’ is political poison – are starting to advocate for a different course.

Senator Mark Bishop has stated his support for TPVs and their effectiveness in deterring the queue-jumping economic refugees from paying to breach our borders. Even the last true leftie (and proud of it) Senator Doug Cameron has had a change of heart on offshore processing, but strangely he wants to ship the arrivals to Malaysia: a country without the same human rights protections offered by Nauru.

Notwithstanding that I disagree with Labor’s position, the contribution by Labor senators seemed slightly more genuine than that offered by the Greens. We all know the Green tail is wagging the Labor dog at the moment but the sheer illogical nature of the Greens’ position is breathtaking in its stupidity.

They too claim they want to end the people smuggling trade but insist on processing the illegal arrivals on shore with early community release – even where security checks haven’t yet been completed. Any sensible person would see this as an open invitation for even more boats filled with identity-free, paying passengers to come here.

The Greens policy hardliners state we should take more refugees than our already generous humanitarian allowance. However, when pressed they won’t say exactly how many is enough. It’s a magic pudding of migration policy.

If that’s not enough to have you extremely frustrated with the level of leadership in this country, the tears of Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young should have you tearing your hair out.

You might recall that Senator Hanson-Young was the sympathetic face of extremism when one of the illegal boats sank off the coast of Java with the loss of around 100 lives. “Tragedies happen. Accidents happen” she said, refusing to accept for a moment that the Greens’ policy stance might have something to do with the leaky boats leaving Indonesian ports en route to Australia.

Despite this blithely dismissive approach to deaths at sea, the good Senator managed to conjure up some tears during the most recent debate. Having learned from the master media manipulator himself (Bob Brown), it guaranteed her a spot on the nightly news.

But the crocodile tears didn’t change a thing. Despite reports other members of the Greens were prepared to do a deal to save lives and restore order to our humanitarian immigration program, Sarah Hanson-Young decisively ruled it out on behalf of the Greens.

I wonder how she will justify her actions when the potentially tragic consequences of her intransigence next reverberate around Australia. Or will the Senator’s inadequate response continue to be merely, “Tragedies happen”.

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