Those of us that hoped the election of a Rudd Government would see Australia model best practice in the treatment of refugees, particularly as we take so few on an annual basis, are now alert and alarmed.
As Abbott goes about the business of whipping up fear of asylum seekers, with his appalling bus, nasty rhetoric and his conga line of supporters in the MSM, the Rudd Government has desperately tried to avoid being wedged on the issue. The chest beating and hard lines that emerge from week to week indicate an abiding level of fear in the community of people arriving on these shores. Recent polling suggests many in the electorate remain fearful of refugees that arrive by boat.
An irrational debate on population has arisen in the body politic, which threatens to turn decidedly partisan and ugly. In the absence of support for the Coalition's policy platform Abbott has taken the 'Tampa' option of cranking up the fear rhetoric; a confection of outrage towards, and threatened consequences for, desperate people who have made a dangerous voyage to escape persecution.
The 'population' posture being trotted out by Morrison and Abbott is back to the future of fear and smear; an egregious throwback to 'White Australia' thinking, much like Howard demonized Muslims to build populist support for his border control regime.
Where is the baby bonus thinking now? I thought the whole point of the Costello pantomime on having babies for mum, dad and the country was to have a bigger Australia! Yes, ladies & gentleman, you guessed it - it does'nt suit the current fear posture so lets not talk about previous policies.
Bi-partisanship on such an important issue as immigration, population growth and cultural inclusiveness is impossible whilst a major political party sees populist opportunity in scaring people.
So we will not get a human rights charter any time soon, as the right paint this as a watering down of a government's right to do as it pleases, with nasty consequences for those caught on the wrong side of what political leaders decree makes a good Australian.
The population debate as framed by Abbott and his cohort is a rallying call for those in the community in thrall to notions of exclusivity, cultural entitlement and border protection. Faced with fairly ordinary polls, Abbott is doing what Howard and Turnbull did before him - press the 'alert and alarmed' buttons on boat people, cultural diversity and 'Australianess'. We have seen it all before - the 'reds under the beds' mantra of the 50s has been replaced with 'we will decide who comes to this country', and many credulous people fall for it, hook, line and sinker, as it feeds into their prejudices...
I'm not the only one who gets the Abbott 'thing' about migration:
Read this Crikey article.
I also get Mike Carlton's take on Australia, the shonky country - right up Mr Abbott's alley, (if you know what I mean).