Labor Off Target

The credibility gulf between what the Gillard Government says and actually does continues to widen.

This time it is the ‘Malaysian deal’ that is unravelling as more boats continue to arrive.

Announced less than a month ago by a desperate government, we now know that an agreement has yet to be finalised, even though more than a quarter of the mooted 800 places have already been filled.

As the terms of the five-for-one Malaysian boat shuffle become apparent, it is clear that the government has only considered the rhetoric and not the reality of what they are proposing. This becomes clear when comparing some of their claims against reality.

The government maintains it will not re-open the Australian taxpayer funded facility on Nauru for offshore processing because it is not a signatory to the UNHCR convention. Neither is Malaysia.

The government insists that human rights will be a critical consideration, yet that term doesn’t exist in the documentation presented thus far. Given that a senior Malay official cannot rule out that detainees will not be subject to caning, the government assurances are shown once again to be as hollow as Gillard’s pre-election ‘no carbon tax under a government I lead’ guarantee.

Last week, Minister Chris Bowen said that unaccompanied children would be sent to Malaysia with no exception. A couple of days later this had morphed into a ‘case-by-case’ basis. Where it will actually end up, no one knows.

If it wasn’t so serious, we would all have to laugh at the slapdash approach to policy by a government clearly out of its depth. Unfortunately, it is a deadly serious issue that is being approached in such a cavalier manner.

In the area of asylum seekers alone, the government has rolled back an effective deterrent program implemented by the Howard administration in favour of a ‘more compassionate’ policy approach. The legacy of their compassion is dozens of deaths, overcrowded detention centres, riots, violence and even a home-made bomb.

One can only presume that the refusal to adopt proven solutions like processing on Nauru and the reintroduction of temporary protection visas is because of political vanity; the same vanity that allows them to believe that the Australian people will swallow their spin no matter how grotesquely detached from reality it is.

We have a government that shoots first and aims later, mindless of the consequences of their policy bullets. Unfortunately, those bullets represent a danger to us all.

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