PNG… What will be the consequences for Abbott and Milne?
My last post asked the question “So Tony, where do you go from here?”
Well the answer may well be that Rudd’s PNG solution leaves both Abbott and Milne with nowhere left to go, as the early reports from Indonesian people smugglers and their victims indicate that it is already having an impact on those considering the “Boat” option.
Now if it works, as the early indications are that it will, then not only will it leave them with nowhere to go, but it also will show that the responsibility for what has happened since Abbott and Milne voted down the Malaysian solution, rests fairly and squarely on their shoulders.
How, you may ask, can I make that determination?
Well, most of the criticism for the Malaysian solution, from the LNP, came from the fact that there were only going to be 800 places in the swap arrangements.
And the argument was that those places would be filled in a matter of weeks.
Now I argued at the time that if the Malaysian solution was implemented, I had serious doubts that there would be more than a relative handful that would be prepared to risk the trip, only to be returned from whence they came, before the realisation set in that it was a complete waste of time and money to trust the people smugglers.
And contrary to the LNP spin, logic would dictate that the people smugglers would be pushing the ‘proverbial’ up hill to find 800 asylum seekers prepared to sacrifice their money, their futures and possibly their lives for the sake of securing the people smugglers own business model.
So my contention at the time was that I doubted that more than one or two boats would make the trip, before they ran out of clients, meaning that at most 300 to 400 asylum seekers would end up back in Malaysia, out of the 800 places allocated.
So let’s leave the spin for the LNP, and add some basic logic to the situation, and see what the possible scenarios are.
- Those genuine refugees that are happy to settle anywhere that’s safe, may well take the chance of a boat, but it would make more sense to apply directly to PNG, rather than risk life and limb.
- There may be some that will not have heard of the new rules, and as a consequence get on a boat, and end up on Manus Island, or dead.
- The people smugglers may fool some into believing that the Aus government is bluffing, but that won’t last long, as the word will soon get around that they’re not.
- That the boats stop altogether in a very short period of time, proving the LNP and the sceptics completely wrong
Now IMHO these are the most likely scenarios, but there is also the possibility that the boats will keep coming unabated, as the LNP hope, but I seriously doubt that that would happen, as it relies on the asylum seekers putting their lives in jeopardy, and spending a large sum of money on a trip to end up somewhere close to their departure point, and somewhere other than their preferred destination, if they are lucky enough to arrive at all.
There is also the possibility of a court challenge from the do-gooder advocate lawyers, who caused the problem for the Malaysian solution in the first place.
I do think though that the government, being burnt the first time, would have done their homework, and I would be very surprised if they haven’t made sure that the problems identified by the first decision have been well and truly addressed in this arrangement.
So, if one or a combination of my most likely scenarios come to fruition, then there will almost undoubtedly be some political consequences for the LNP and the greens.
For the LNP;
- Their lies and spin on this and other issues will be brought into question.
- Whatever credibility they may have had on their asylum seeker policy will be gone.
- They will be seen as the party who see the lives of asylum seekers as politically expedient, for the greater good… THEIRS!
- People will know that the reason that they refused point blank to compromise on the Malaysian solution, was not because they were concerned for the welfare of asylum seekers in Indonesia, who they declared were not signatories to the refugee convention, but rather that they knew that there was a good chance that it would actually work, blowing holes in their already shaky policy platform.
The greens, on the other hand, cried foul, pretty much as they are now, stating that it was unfair, inhumane treatment, etc etc, completely ignoring the fact that the de-facto on-shore policy that we had (and that they wanted) was not working, and the number of boats and drownings continued to grow.
So they, whist claiming such care and concern for these desperate souls, also took the line of political expediency, albeit for ideological reasons, and voted with the LNP against changing the laws to allow the Malaysian solution to at least get tried.
Both these party’s also rejected the recommendations of the Houston panel, of experts, because they determined that they “Knew Better?” WTF?
They both spewed forth copious amounts of spin, again ignoring the fact that the brief of the panel was not to be inhumane, or to get either the LNP or the greens off side, but rather to find a set of compromises that might just stop people drowning at sea.
But in their usual fashion, both the rabid right and the rabid left “chose” to lose sight of the destination, for the sake of following their own political agendas, and we have all witnessed the results of that intransigence.
So for the greens, the political fall out may well result in a feeling in the wider community;
- That they were prepared to risk deaths at sea for the sake of political intransigence.
- That they cried crocodile tears over lives lost whilst waving their ideology like some flag of righteousness, and blaming the government for what will be seen, by many, as their own level of culpability.
- That they do not deserve the level of support that they may otherwise have received, if they had been willing to compromise for the sake of helping to solve the problem rather than just being another part of the problem.
Only time will tell how this all plays out, and I am not claiming to have some great insight into the future, only trying to look at a very complex and difficult situation with a measure of logic and common sense.
The one thing that I am sure of though, is that if the PNG solution starts to reduce the number of boats and, given a fair go, I’m reasonably confident that it will, then it will be a fair indicator that the Malaysian solution would have also worked, meaning that many lives would have been saved if the LNP and the greens had not been playing their petty, political games.
Therefore, there will be electoral consequences for both the LNP and the greens, as it will be increasingly difficult for either of them to justify their previous positions, although I’d imagine they will continue to try.
So the question is;
“PNG… What will be the consequences for Abbott and Milne?”