Nov 022009

More from the ‘Liberal Party journalist of choice’ soothsaying doom and gloom for the Rudd government.

Essentially, Milne is correct in his postulation that Kevin Rudd is not of the left faction of the Labor Party. Kevin Rudd is of the right faction, that much is public knowledge. That Rudd is a control freak is also public knowledge. Predictions of dire consequences for the Rudd government, and for Kevin Rudd’s personal popularity poll figures, should the government decide to end the stand-off between asylum seekers aboard the Customs vessel, ‘Oceanic Viking’ are nothing more than anti-Labor journalistic rhetoric.
Labor is not as predictable as a political animal under the Rudd government as Milne entreats that it was under Beazley. That’s why Beazley was shown the door and a harder line, less predictable, more controlling leader in Rudd was chosen. What Kim Beazley said or didn’t say six years ago is entirely irrelevant to the current circumstances surrounding asylum seekers. Six years ago, the civil war in Sri Lanka wasn’t ended with thousands of Tamils being held in concentration camps. Six years ago, Kim Beazley wasn’t Prime Minister. Three years ago, to fit with the Milne spin timeline, the Sri Lankan government and seperatist elements had declared a truce and the current ‘push’ factors being experienced either didn’t exist, or came from a different direction.
If there is a mistake made by the Rudd government over the asylum seeker issue, it comes down to believing that an accomodation could be reached with Indonesia as a quick-and-dirty political fix by paying that country to play the part of stop gap. In my estimation, that decision was poorly thoughtout politically. Indonesia is not a signatory to UNHCR edicts, and is not obliged to provide asylum to refugees from a legal standpoint. Morally, well, that’s an entirely different issue. For the Australian government to even consider involving a non-signatory to UNHCR requirements, expecting to play under the same rules is naive at best.
The only viable solution from both political and humanitarian standpoints is to end the stand-off in Indonesia, re-direct Australian tax-payer funds to where they can be better spent on the issue, and have the ‘Oceanic Viking’ take is human cargo to Christmas Island forthwith. There, the standard security and health checks can be undertaken, thereby ensuring that the campaign of fear-and-loathing being generated by conservative elements in Australia is effectively nullified. From every boatload of ‘human misery’, as Milne entreats, some will be accepted as genuine refugees, some will be returned to their country of origin. That is the rational way of things. As a signatory to UNHCR edicts, Australia has an obligation and responsibility to people seeking asylum. That much of this issue is factual and inescapable. The solution to the problem lies not with Indonesia, but with Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq indeed, any of the world’s trouble spots. This feckless fawning to Indonesia has to stop.
As for Milne’s rhetoric, he’s about as disingenuous as any in the Coalition when he trots out statements such as:

It’s an issue that has, for the first time in his prime ministership also seen Rudd overreach. His attack on Wilson Tuckey’s statement that boats of illegal entrants could contain terrorists was a case in point. Tuckey’s remarks were a statement of the bleeding obvious. Especially given Rudd’s explanation for the spike in arrivals is “push” factors: desperate people fleeing violent wars.

No basis in fact, unsubstantiated scare-mongering pandering to the dog-whistlers in society, which are thankfully small in number these days. In Milne’s case, in mind also.

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