Kevin Rudd's astounding announcement that all boat arrivals "from now on" would never be resettled in Australia, and subject to a jerry-rigged offshore dumping deal with the Papua New Guinea government has shocked many.
Every asylum seeker that arrives by boat for at least the next 12 months would be sent to Papua New Guinea, with no cap on the number. In exchange, Australia would pump money into PNG's government for apparent health and education reforms.
Tony Abbott had little to say in a press conference after the announcement, held with Liberal immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison and deputy leader Julie Bishop. Struggling to find ground to the right of the extreme move by Rudd, Abbott said he "welcomed" the policy, but claimed it "would not work with Mr Rudd in charge".
"Do you trust the political party that closed down Manus Island? Or do you trust the party that is the original and the best when it comes to stopping the boats."
Greens leader Christine Milne and immigration spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young outlined the many human rights violations inherent in the new plan. Milne said the plan was "ruthless and ... repugnant". She said Rudd had "leap frogged" Abbott in his bid beat the Liberal leader at the next election.
When Rudd was deposed by Julia Gillard in 2010, this was exactly what he vowed not to do: "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."
Refugee rights groups around the country have begun to respond with snap-actions and statements. The Refugee Action Coalition said the government's accompanying plan to expand the Manus Island detention camp to a capacity of 3000 would cause serious harm to refugees.
UPDATE: NATIONWIDE PROTESTS:
SYDNEY - 12PM SAT 20 JULY @ TOWN HALL
MELBOURNE - 12PM SAT 20 JULY @ STATE LIBRARY
ADELAIDE - 2PM SUN 21 JULY @ PARLIAMENT HOUSE
BRISBANE - 9AM MON 22 JULY @ KEVIN RUDD'S OFFICE - 653 WYNNUM RD, MORNINGSIDE
CANBERRA - 12PM SAT 27 JULY @ PETRIE PLAZA
PERTH - 12PM SAT 20 JULY @ FORREST CHASE, PERTH CBD
Oh by the way, this won't stop boats. We still haven't given people ANY ALTERNATIVE to getting on a boat: we're just punishing them for it.
— Jessie Taylor (@taylor_jessie) July 19, 2013
Independent bodies report conditions for #asylum seekers on Manus Isl are inhumane, degrading & amount to arbitrary, unlawful detention
— David Manne (@david_manne) July 19, 2013
A national day of shame on refugees. A rush to the right, a rush to refugee cruelty so that Kevin Rudd can rush to the polls
— Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) July 19, 2013
Vessels "from now on" will be subject to new rule - Tony Burke. Manus will be brought "back up to standard" to detain women & children again
— Jay Fletcher (@JayFletchers) July 19, 2013
— Antony Loewenstein (@antloewenstein) July 19, 2013
PNG with 37% of its people living below poverty line. GDP 134th & 168th for life expectancy in the world can take #refugees but we can't?
— ASRC (@ASRC1) July 19, 2013