At time of writing, the new date for the federal election had not yet been set, but we already know who won: Pauline Fucking Hanson.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a policy so driven by irrational racism that even Hanson could only have fantasised about it ever coming true: no asylum seekers who arrive by boat will ever be resettled in Australia, instead dumped in Papua New Guinea.
You know, some people knock Rudd's achievements, but he's just made Philip Ruddock look like a great humanitarian, and that takes real skill.
Rudd’s refugee betrayal sparks protests
This tearing up of international law, any recognition of our obligation as a rich nation to help those in need and any commitment to basic humanitarian principles comes from a man who, when toppled as prime minister in 2010, declared: “If I return as the leader of the government and Prime Minister, I will be very clear of one thing, this party and government will not be lurching to the right on the question of asylum seekers.”
Well Christ, I'd hate to see his idea of lurching to the right, then. I am not sure how you lurch any further, but maybe Rudd could propose putting all asylum seekers into capsules to shoot into outer space while the sound system plays Celine Dion's Greatest Hits on repeat.
Rudd has gone so far, even the Tony Abbott-led Coalition seems unable to think of a more inhumane, right-wing, racist proposal. The best Abbott could come up with was to say he “welcomed” the move, but “it won't work under Mr Rudd”.
No, Abbott said, you have to support “the party that is the original and the best when it comes to actually stopping the boats”. Don't accept just any second-rate cruel xenophobia. Go with the racists you can trust.
Abbott is kinda right. The policy won't work under Rudd. But it won't work under Abbott either. The boats will keep coming as long as people have no other choice.
To try to camouflage just how cruel this policy is to desperate people, we now have the lie that asylum seekers coming by boat are largely “economic refugees”. As though anyone is ever likely to think, “Christ, I appear to be a bit short this week. I know! I'll chuck the family onto an overcrowded boat and make a highly unpleasant and extremely dangerous journey halfway across the world! That's the trick!”
To be extra cruel, the policy only applies to those who seek asylum via boat. Presumably, the government thinks these people are perfectly capable of flying over here, but they just love a bit of sea air.
Precisely because people who seek asylum by boat are not economic refugees, precisely because they take the journey as a last resort, precisely because they have no other options, the idea of cruel policies to deter them cannot work.
The only way it could possibly work is if we treat such people worse than, for instance, the Taliban — which, along with the Western-backed fundamentalists in power in Afghanistan, are the force Hazara people are fleeing.
And we can't be worse than them. We could, with great effort — and let's not take away from Rudd and Abbott's efforts — be about as bad.
But let's face it, if you want the “original and the best when it comes to crimes against humanity”, the Taliban are the go.
Or let's take the case of Tamil people fleeing the genocidal regime in Sri Lanka. This regime slaughtered about 20,000 Tamils in one night in 2009. How could we be worse? Threaten to slaughter 21,000 Tamils in one hour?
The fact our government is complicit in supporting the horrors that people are fleeing in places such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka makes this blanket refusal to offer any assistance even more sickening.
One argument that people who believe in some measure of social justice use to support Labor is it is a “lesser evil” to the Coalition. Now, there is no longer anything “lesser” about it. It is just plain fucking evil.