So. What does this Government actually stand for?


It’s easy to criticise Governments in a free democracy. Especially when it’s a Government that exists in your opposing worldview. Conservative, not conservative enough, left-leaning, not left-leaning enough.

But there’s an almighty difference between something you don’t agree with and just plain, phenomenally terrible policy.

This Government seems to have struck a lot of the latter, either by odds-destroying sheer bad luck or because it is genuinely abominable. Guess which one.

Yesterday the majority of the full bench of the highest court in the country – the High Court – found that the Federal Government’s asylum seeker ‘fix’, the Malaysia Solution, was unlawful. Illegal. It said the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was the prime guardian of unaccompanied children who arrived in Australia as asylum seekers and that he, nor anyone in the Government, had the right or legal power to wax lyrical about how safe another country was if it hadn’t signed up to the United Nations Refugee Convention.

Where have we heard that before? Oh, from this very Government when they entered the last election and swore black and blue that it wouldn’t reinstate detention facilities at Nauru, which had previously been established by the Howard Government. Why? Because Nauru hadn’t signed up to the United Nations convention.

Give me strength.

Annabel Crabb, the first lady of fine commentary on these matters, sums it up nicely:

“It’s disastrous because having hoped to draw attention to the toughness of its new border protection policy, the Government has now effectively hung a lantern on its own problems.

It’s disastrous because rather than brutally curtailing the sense of crisis, the Government has fanned it with this failed policy.

But the most egregious aspect of today’s decision by the High Court is that it provides a new and crushing chapter in what has become a tale of rambling incompetence.


There is only so far the defence of ‘but they’re in a minority Government now and it’s much harder to govern’ will take you. It’s true, to an extent, with all the petty squabbles and piecing together a platform piece by legislative piece, never knowing where support will be on any given issue. But the Prime Minister knew this was a reflexive, divisive, dog whistle of a policy from the get-go and that’s unforgivable.


This isn’t the case of a solitary fumble. Everybody drops a catch once or twice. But this Government? It’s like they’re staring into the sun. Remember during the last Federal election when, starved of any asylum seeker policy, Ms Gillard said she’d open a regional processing centre on East Timor. Without even asking them first. The idea never survived.

Remember the Citizen’s Assembly to (eventually, one presumes) find a way to fight climate change? Ridiculous.

The Cash for Clunkers scheme? A policy with a membranous veneer of credibility. But not much more.

As always, it takes two to tango and our deficient Government has been in lock-step with the High Chieftan of Negative Tony Abbott and the Opposition. It’s a poisonous climate, an atmosphere filled with vile sloganeering and poor policy and alternative policies.

So now the Federal Government says it won’t rule anything in or out when it comes to its asylum seeker policy. They don’t have many options left, of course. It could change the Migration Act and relevant legislation but the Greens would never let it fly. You can’t appeal the High Court.

Of course, there’s always onshore processing. But the dog whistle rhetoric of the previous years would make that a supremely hard sell. Then there’s Nauru. Oh, wait.

What, can anybody tell me, does this Government stand for? And when, more to the point, are they going to stand up for it?

It is, above all else, embarrassing.

How would you address the asylum seeker policy question?

[poll id=”99″]