Dear Julia: when supping with the devil use a long spoon

6 Sep

Julia Gillard this afternoon invited Tony Abbott to a briefing tomorrow on the legal implications of the High Court’s decision last week on the Malaysia solution. Abbott has accepted.

It’s looking increasingly likely that the two will join forces in amending the Migration Act to stop any possible legal disputes preventing off-shore processing of asylum seeker claims.

Common sense and decency have long since fled this debate. It defies rationality that the major parties are willing and eager to continue spending billions on off-shore processing and mandatory detention.

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect is that last time we used Nauru as a dumping ground for asylum seekers who arrived by boat, almost every one of them was found to be a refugee, and sent to Australia where they now live. As the majority of boat arrivals are granted refugee status, we can only anticipate that this will continue to be the case. Unless of course, Ms Gillard has it in mind to indefinitely detain genuine refugees in Nauru or some other off-shore prison, until she can persuade another country to grant them sanctuary.

So exactly how will this “stop the boats?”

Just when we thought Gillard’s judgement couldn’t get any worse, it does.

In her final abandonment of the Labor platform on refugees, Gillard appears to have entered into an ego-driven game of one-up-man-ship with the High Court. Her ill-disguised pique with Chief Justice French adds personal prime ministerial face-saving to an off-shore processing policy that is already populist, right-wing and economically insane.

The mental and physical damage the Gillard government will continue to inflict upon asylum seekers and their children by subjecting them to mandatory detention and off-shore processing is of no consequence to Gillard. In spite of mounting evidence and protests from just about everyone involved in the detention system about the damage sustained by both detainees and those who work in these grim places,Gillard continues to pursue a policy that she is fully aware seriously harms many, and she does it for personal and political gain.

An alliance with Tony Abbott on asylum seeker policy is but the latest Gillard political misjudgment and it ought to be the last. As Philip Adams wrote today, resign Julia, resign.

The High Court decision gave the ALP a golden opportunity to extricate themselves from a disgraceful and shaming policy without losing too much face.

While Gillard was perfectly entitled to criticize the decision, her opinions were wrong. She’s been shooting off her mouth on the asylum seeker issue since day one, when she announced that we’d be expelling boat arrivals to East Timor without first properly negotiating her plan with that country. Things have gone downhill from there.

If there is such an animal as the national psyche, government and opposition policies on boat arrivals are doing it nothing but damage, as willful misrepresentation, weasel language, outright lies, complete lack of compassion and political and personal selfishness over-rule every other consideration, such as our responsibilities to the region in which we stand out as the wealthiest country, our voluntarily incurred responsibilities to the UN Refugee Convention, and our right to behave humanely and generously towards those in need. Julia Gillard is denying us that right. Julia Gillard is shriveling our national heart and soul. Julia Gillard is turning this country into a land of hard hearts and closed minds.

I wonder if she’ll have the sense to get anything Tony says in writing.

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4 Responses to “Dear Julia: when supping with the devil use a long spoon”

  1. Marilyn September 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    There is a small detail though. There is not one country now that will enter any dirty deal with Australia.

    Because no matter how often they blather Mr Moon made it quite clear that it is illegal and we just look ridiculous.

    Gillard could again try to exclude the High court and she would again fail.

    There is a picture in the Australian today of one of the families she sought to brutally force from our shores.

    An Iranian christian stateless family and their two pretty curly headed white kids.

    She is a ghastly troll and deserves to be given a hard time over this. She elevated a non-issue to a career defining load of old tripe.

    I am almost longing for the kinder days of fabulous Phil.

    And our whiney media don’t help. They claim ‘the government broke the law, they must do it again” and then claim without substance that 600 refugees a month will cause riots like those in England. Which were not caused by refugees at all but British people rich and poor.


    • Jennifer Wilson September 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

      I do admire your stamina and staying power, Marilyn. I haven’t been this disgusted since Howard.


  2. Julia September 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    So we’re going to keep our side of the Malaysian deal and bring their refugees to Oz, whether or not we find a way to send ours over there? gee, that’s sure to deter the boats…not.

    Maybe it’s time Julia changed her name to Alice…coz it’s getting curiouser and curiouser.


  3. Marilyn September 8, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    Greg Sheridan is again claiming the High court were wrong for not letting the government break Howard’s evil law so it is timely to remind ourselves of what Sheridan said at the time.

    Greg Sheridan, writing in the November 8 Australian, summed up the mood among many conservatives: “You have a right to determine who comes into your home. But if there’s a car accident in your street in which the husband is killed and the wife, bleeding and injured, brings her three small daughters to your front door, in need of rudimentary but urgent medical attention and the use of a phone, what is your response? Legally you’re entitled to refuse her entry, no doubt. Morally, to do so would be evil, even grotesque.”

    Sheridan drew attention to the sharp criticism from former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Richard Woolcott, who accused Howard of looking at foreign policy only through a narrow, short-term, domestic prism and ignoring the “national interest”.

    Sheridan added the example of three Australian National University professors who had “condemned Howard’s foreign policy and said our position in the region was the weakest it has been in a generation”.

    “The revolt this week of the foreign policy professionals should be of the highest concern to the government, though doubtless it will dismiss them as members of the elite. In fact, these people are not chardonnay socialists or Balmain basketweavers. They are dedicated professionals, outraged at the huge damage to our national interests the policy is doing and also at its moral perversity.”

    Sheridan expresses a genuine concern among Australia’s ruling capitalist class that the thrust of the Coalition’s policy is doing substantial damage to Australian business prospects in the Asia-Pacific region.

    From Green Left Weekly, November 14, 2001.
    Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

    From: Australian News, Green Left Weekly issue #471 14 November 2001.


    ellow humans in tragic straits deserve better.
    By Greg Sheridan FOREIGN EDITOR.
    25 October 2001
    The Australian
    The Government’s systematic trivialisation and demonising of refugees is a slander THE death of 353 asylum-seekers bound for Australia from Indonesia should remind us of one thing above all others – that in refugee policy we are dealing with human beings, we are not talking, as so much of the discussion suggests, about the best place to store or dispose of surplus bales of wool.
    The spat between Kim Beazley and John Howard does neither of them any credit. Beazley’s comments were unexceptional – the policy to discourage boats from coming from Indonesia has manifestly failed.
    That much is just stating the obvious.
    Beazley’s assumption, however, that he could easily fix the problem by talking to Indonesia’s President Megawati Sukarnoputri is also flawed. Beazley would certainly do better with Jakarta than Howard has done but there is no guarantee, or even much likelihood, that this would be enough to solve the asylumseeker problem.
    But having so spinelessly capitulated to the substance of Howard’s brutish refugee policies he is left with nothing else to say.
    Meanwhile, the real lessons of this appalling and terrible incident need to be drawn.
    What does it tell us for sure? That the people who got on board the boat were certainly desperate, at the end of their tether. They knew it was an unsafe boat; a substantial number who had paid for passage refused to proceed with it. But such was the desperation of the 400 who set sail that they took the risk. The way the Government has systematically trivialised and demonised these people is shown in the starkest terms for the slander it has always been.
    Second, some of the boat’s passengers had already been categorised as genuine refugees but had no prospect of resettlement. Where is Philip Ruddock’s queue now? The high number of women and children is also telling. Among the Government’s many acts of calculated cruelty to asylum-seekers is the grant of the temporary protection visa. If you arrive in Australia without a visa and subsequently are classified as a genuine refugee, you are given only a three-year protection visa, whereas other refugees qualify for permanent residency visas.
    After three years you must apply for a new temporary visa. Among the many disadvantages of such a visa is that you are not entitled to English language training, surely the single most important factor in enabling refugees to look after themselves and make a positive contribution to society.
    You are also denied any opportunity for family reunion. In all the history of refugees throughout the past blighted century, it has been common for one family member, normally a man, to go ahead and try to bring his family after him. This is not queue jumping, destination shopping or any other derogatory term the Government wants to dream up. It is simply human behaviour in a loving family. A number of the people on the boat from Indonesia had relatives in Australia. They should have been entitled to come here under normal family reunion.
    Altogether Canberra is spending some hundreds of millions of dollars a year persecuting refugees, equivalent perhaps to 30 per cent or 40 per cent of our aid budget, far in excess of the paltry aid we give Indonesia, for example.
    For Howard to blame Indonesia for the boatpeople, and for Beazley to say that Indonesia is the solution to the boatpeople, shows both men being disingenuous at best. Indonesia has well over 1 million internally displaced domestic refugees. It remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It is facing two big secessionist movements. Its survival as a nation is by no means assured. It, too, would rather asylum-seekers did not come to its country and add to its problem


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