Gillard remains in the gutter over asylum seekers (and she feels fine)

Australia’s new refugee policy is truly a “he-man” competition. Who can seem toughest on those evil people smugglers? Who can maximise political capital over the handful of desperate souls from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq keen to make a better life?

Opening a regional processing centre in East Timor smacks of a typical Western colonial mentality; bribe a poor neighbour to take our mess (and close the door on the way out):

It’s not the Pacific Solution — it’s the Timor Sea Solution.

Julia Gillard’s decision to ask East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta to allow a regional processing centre on his island sounds familar — as familiar as John Howard setting up just such a camp on Nauru.

Turning the boats back, she says, is a shallow slogan that amounts to nonsense. And so it is. She makes no bones about Tony Abbott’s claim that this is what he would do. The asylum seekers would simply sabotage their boats and Australian authorities would have to rescue them, she says. Shades of children overboard.

Gillard’s whole approach is to stop the boats, however. The message she wants sent is that asylum seekers shouldn’t get in boats in the first place.

And how is that message to be delivered? Get in a boat for Australia and you’ll find yourself delivered to East Timor quick smart.

No matter how Gillard tried to couch her words, she is in John Howard territory.

Dom Knight has it about right:

Let’s be more humane to these poor asylum seekers, as we ship them off to a place that’s less pleasant than Indonesia. I’m in awe, JG. Awe.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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