You know I just can’t bear the current conniptions of the Labor Party with regard to asylum seekers. Seems to me that Julia and her Cabinet tried very hard to have their cake and eat it too. Mandatory detention is an awful policy, the Keating government’s lowest moment, and it would be good to be done with it now. But that can only play in Peoria if the asylum seekers are ‘genuine refugees’ and that would have to have been ascertained before the asylum seekers get to Australia, hence the need for offshore processing. After all who knows who might be pretending to be poor and hopeless?
So, the spinmeisters of the ALP thought rubbing their hands together, if we can dump detention we might just keep our true believers (who are looking lustfully at Bob Brown) and if we keep offshore processing we might score with some of Howard’s battlers (who are, shockingly, beginning to think that evil shite Scott Morrison is an alright sort of bloke). In other words, policy principles be damned the big play is electoral and the great prize is not having made it better or done a good thing but some future moment when Antony Green announces a new majority Labor government.
The Capital Hill dungeon masters must have been thinking that if they pulled it off the ALP might just shake off those squeaky independents at the next election and with Abbot speaking to the ‘what about me?’ right (and looking ever more likely he’ll promise to make the trains run on time) there might just be chance for another, slightly more authoritative, Gillard government. But, even if the High Court hadn’t put the kibosh on the Malaysian Fixation, the importance of the each way bet is clear.
The each way bet means that for the ALP government is still not about principle, or doing right, or putting reasonably just and fair processes in place to deal with the uncertainties of the world. Nope, it is about staying the government, keeping the other guy in his place as not the government, and making sure that regardless of success or failure the right form of words can be found to make both of these outcomes seem natural, unproblematic and pretty much the way it has always been. Well, fuck that.