Courtesy of Piers Akerman/Daily Telegraph:
For more articles by Piers go to; http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/piersakerman/
By Piers Akerman – Thursday, February, 21, 2013, (7:31pm)
IT seems like yesterday but it was in fact last October when then immigration minister Chris Bowen wrung his hands and cited the deaths at sea of more than 1060 people trying to reach Australia as reason to establish a processing centre in PNG. More than 700 of those deaths had occurred since October 2009, he said.
To that figure we can now add the slow and painful deaths by starvation of perhaps 100 more Burmese asylum seekers. Labor and its fellow travellers, the Greens and independents, can fairly be held responsible for these deaths.
The illegal boat traffic came to a halt under John Howard. There were only four people who had arrived by boat in detention when the Rudd government came to office. Last week, there were 5548 people in detention and 7585 boat arrivals on bridging visas.
Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, his deputy Julia Gillard and immigration minister Chris Evans gave the people smugglers reason to resume operations when they dismantled the Howard government’s successful border protection policy.
As Senator Evans boasted to the Refugee Council in a speech in November, 2008, after the Rudd government’s disastrous reforms were passed with the assistance of the Greens: “It was also one of my greatest pleasures in politics. Neither humane nor fair, the Pacific Solution was also ineffective and wasteful.”
Evans, who announced his retirement from politics three weeks ago, was succeeded in the immigration portfolio by Bowen who, after this month’s reshuffle, has been succeeded by Brendan O’Connor. Not one of these ministers ever put forward or implemented a successful border protection policy, nor has Gillard, who still talks of her totally improbable Malaysian Solution.
Indeed, Gillard’s forays into immigration policy have been just as successful as every other policy she has championed – they have been disastrous failures.
Her East Timor plan was a diplomatic farce from the onset. Gillard didn’t even appear to know what the Timorese government structure was when she blurted out that thought bubble.
Her Malaysian people-swap policy was sunk by the High Court; her plan to pass responsibility for 150 refugees amounted to no more than a PR release – there were more than 248 new arrivals within eight days of her announcement.
It has now been revealed that Gillard has not even acted on the advice she received from her handpicked independent “expert” panel to which she outsourced her immigration policy in June, 2012.
The panel consisted of Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC AFC (Retired), Mr Paris Aristotle AM, director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc and Professor Michael L’Estrange AO, director, National Security College.
One of its key recommendations was that the Gillard government improve its shonky people swap deal with Malaysia.
But, under questioning by Liberal senator Michaelia Cash last week, the Secretary of the Department of Immigration Martin Bowles admitted nothing had been done to alter the Malaysian swap arrangement.
“There is no agreed way past what we have already agreed with the Malaysian government; that is correct,” he said.
Nor has the Malaysian government acted to allay concerns about its commitment to human rights protections for asylum seekers – as required by the High Court decision – and nor have the Malaysians been asked whether they will agree to accept more asylum seekers than the original 800 agreed in the original failed people swap deal.
The Malaysian deal has not only been set adrift, it has gone terribly backwards.
Highlighting the ludicrous state of the government’s policy, Bowles also said the department had framed its budget based on the effects on policy of the expert panel’s recommendations and was operating under the expectation that the recommendations would have such an impact they would actually stop the boats.
With a simple computer key stroke, the government now claims that the $1 billion border protection budget blowout will disappear because the boats will stop coming because the Houston panel’s recommendations, yet to be implemented, will work.
This is just as nonsensical as the mining tax, which raised less revenue than it cost to implement, the carbon dioxide tax that was swallowed by compensation payments and literally scores of other failed programs.
The difference is that this policy, passed to appease the left of the ALP and to head off incursions on Labor territory by the Greens (that didn’t work either), has led to the deaths of significant numbers of people. Labor and Green voters in inner-city electorates can take full credit for these deaths.
In trying to strike at the Howard government’s successful policy and demonise the minimal detention regime and associated policies that were used to stop the boats, Labor and the Greens ensured deaths would ensue.
They placed their peculiar moral vanity before the lives of the unfortunates lured to their end by the easing of border protection.
You can judge for yourself how successful the updated Gillard government’s policy has been by looking at the year-on-year figures for illegal arrivals.
Last year, there were 1195 by February 22, last night, 1263 had been logged, and news of the recent deaths was filtering through to relatives in Burma.
Where are the triumphant Labor and Green voters now?
They’re certainly not demanding any inquiries as they did when SIEV X sank in international waters, or planting fields of crosses around Parliament House. Like all moral cowards, they are hoping no one will remember their lethal folly.