|It just got smaller|
Last night, Phil (I-belong-to-Amnesty) Ruddock announced
that all Australian islands
north of the Tropic of Capricorn were to be
excised from the migration zone of Australia. Asylum seekers on those islands
will have no rights to apply to Australia for refugee status, and will be
denied the right to legal appeal under Australian Law. Unless they make it to the Australian mainland, they
are still in the cold.
Phil's decision can be overturned by the Senate, and the
Liberals do not control the senate.
The Democrats and Greens have cried out against this, and the ALP has
had a bit of a squeal, but doesn't actually know which way to jump.
The Democrats and Greens are safe - they can say whatever they like.
Their policies will never be tested because they will never win government.
However the ALP would actually like to win government. They can only do
this by criticizing Liberal's policies, but they can't take a stand
against policies which are popular with the electorate.
When the Tampa sailed into Australian waters, the weak ALP leadership buckled
within two hours of Johnny (I-can-send-in-the-SAS) Howard making a decision because they knew that
that any other course would mean electoral disaster. Now they are sitting on
the fence and the spikes are hurting.
This will only get tested if asylum seekers land on one of the islands in
question. If no-one does, the ALP will be accused of weakening Australia's
strong border stance indefinitely. If asylum seekers do land, then we will have
a Tampa situation all over again. The Australian people will feel the rush of
nationalism, and scream for absolute sovereignty.
Simon (smile-for-me) Crean will either agree and look weak and foolish, or
take a pro-asylum-seeker stance and infuriate the voting public. Either way
he is unlikely to keep his job.
The Liberal party knows this, and has introduced this regulation largely to
make the ALP squirm. It's working. They plan to route the ALP and show the
Australian electorate just how divided and unreliable they are on this issue.
Then Johnny raced off to the US to try to get an audience
with George W while Simon thrashes about screaming 'nobody tells me anything'.
He is demanding a briefing from the Prime Minister and refuses to get the
briefing from a lowly minister like Phil. Get a life Simon.
Meantime the 2000-odd refugee-wannabes in Indonesia are eyeing events
closely and calculating whether the money they spend in getting here is worth
the risk of ending up in Nauru.
Presumably they are praying to Allah for a Labor government. If the
Liberal strategy works, this could take a while. They might be better off
waiting for the second coming.