Monday, 25 June 2012

There have been calls for a

"bi-partisan" approach on the issue of those attempting to enter Australia by boat. They come of course from the government and the media. They do not come from the opposition. There is no need for them to come from the opposition.
There is also an excellent article in our state newspaper today by Alexander Downer, our former Foreign Minister.  It makes interesting reading. I also have no doubt that what he has to say will be criticised in tomorrow's letters pages.

I am not sure whether I am right or not but I have always believed that it is the role of the government of the day to run the country. If the present government and the media are to be believed however everything which currently goes wrong is not the fault of the government. It is the fault of the opposition for failing to support the government.
I do not believe it is the role of an opposition to support the government in everything. Any reasonable opposition is going to support a government in some things but not others.
In this case I believe that the government has got the border protection and asylum seeker policies catastrophically wrong. As Downer has said, nobody wants anyone to drown. It must be a most appalling and terrifying way to die.
What is perhaps even worse is that those who drowned were safe. They were safe but they wanted to be somewhere different. They are no longer fleeing persecution - if indeed some were fleeing persecution in the first place - they are attempting to travel to a chosen destination. That is a very different thing.
The rescue operation which was mounted has been incredibly expensive. Australia has had to assist and accept survivors. Aircraft are being used. Hospital beds are being taken up. Later there will be the expense of resettlement in Australia because, without a doubt, all the survivors will be granted refugee status.  It bothers me even more that there are "unaccompanied minors" among the survivors. Their needs for care and protection are going to be even greater.
The money all this has cost could have been put towards education, housing, hospitals, roads and other essentials in places which desperately need them. It could have benefitted many. Instead it is directed towards saving a few, some would say a selfish few.
All this tells me that it is not a "bi-partisan" approach we need. We need a government which will acknowledge that the current policy is not working, that the "solutions" they have offered are not going to work.  They need to acknowledge that anything else is going to be very hard work and that they have made it much more difficult through intransigence and ineptness.
It is not the role of an opposition to support policies which do not work, nor is it their role to compromise in the hope that something "might" work. The government is there to govern. It claims to have the numbers in both houses. If it cannot get their policies to work then it is up to them, not the opposition, to do something about it.
If they can get something to work then they might even get bi-partisan support.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link. Nice to read some words of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Nice to read some words of wisdom ... yours and his!

Judy B

Anonymous said...

Downer's piece was excellent Cat, thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

I thought Downer's piece was very thoughtful and well reasoned. Now wait for the explosion in tomorrow's paper. You should have written something Cat! Chris