Wayne Swan has written to Tony Blair (as reported in The Independent), warning of the campaign tactics of Lynton Crosby. Following is an excerpt:
“Just listen to the words of Michael Howard on asylum and immigration over the last two weeks, and it is clear how closely the British Conservatives have been copying the Australian Prime Minister John Howard's 2001 campaign tactic of exploiting fear and race as a substitute for a longer-term policy debate about the future of your country. I feel an overwhelming sense of déjà vu…
Mr Crosby's 2001 Australian election campaign was perhaps the most despicable waged in Australian political history. It set out deliberately to vilify asylum-seekers, to imply that they were possible terrorists, and to signal a crack-down on immigration. Most of the asylum-seekers exiled in the "Pacific Solution" (in which "boat people" from Indonesia were held in camps on two ocean islands) were subsequently granted entry to Australia.
Again, Mr Crosby did not let the facts get in the way of the campaign. While in the UK recently, I saw coverage of the Tories' adverts in the local press in which they claimed that money spent on asylum and immigration could have been used to lower council tax. This is exactly the sort of thing we have seen in Australia.”
Whilst I applaud the sentiments, the ground was well fertilized by Labor through ‘mandatory detention’.
Supporters of Labor for Refugees have tried to change the ALP platform but the amendment they took to the 2004 ALP National Conference was narrowly defeated.