Turnbull, I suspect, is not of the hardline group within the Liberal Party (and other right wing organs like News Limited) that want to beat up refugees at every opportunity. However he is presently allowing a virulent strand of security and fear driven attack to open up under his watch, getting the potential political mileage while personally 'distancing' himself from the detail.
So far all we get is a combination of salivating right wingers and a leader who says it is 'too easy' for those seeking asylum.
This is not good enough. His party, under his leadership, needs to have a coherent position, and in particular this needs to spell out: exactly what is it about the previous regime that they propose to reinstate?
Labor's policy is not soft- soft would be treating all asylum claimants as prima facie legitimate, respecting their freedom until given reason to do otherwise, providing them with ample resources and so on. Labor's policy is only soft in comparison with the policy employed by the Liberals when they were in power.
So what exactly does Turnbull want to reinstate? This very valid question popped up on Q&A last night but was not answered. Is it:
... The Pacific 'Solution'?
... Indefinite detention, sometimes lasting for years?
... Legitimising administrative error and neglectful misuse of power (this is what is effectively entailed by curtailing the ability to appeal)?
Malcolm, please answer. Which of these is needed so that the regime is no longer 'too' easy? If you don't want any of these awful regressions then show leadership, rein in your attack dogs, and let go of this one as a stick with which to beat, via the disenfranchised, the government.
At least Howard took direct responsibility for his unpleasant policies.
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