By ANDREW BOLT
I THOUGHT Julia Gillard would finally rid us of Kevin Rudd’s noxious spin and brazen lies. But after her boat people speech, I feel sick.
The woman has started her reign with the same cold deceit with which Rudd ended his. Smoother delivery, sure, but the spin is just as shameless. Turns out Rudd’s spin was part of the new Labor brand.
The worst of it – in a speech riddled with this cancer – came when Gillard announced she hoped one day to send boat people to East Timor for processing, so they couldn’t be sure they’d end up here for the $10,000 that they’d paid a people smuggler.
Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the same “Pacific Solution” John Howard once had and which Gillard condemned year after year as cruel, costly and useless.
Here she is last year: “We also said . . . we were going to end the Pacific Solution which had cost so much money for so little result.” Here she is in 2007: “We have committed to ending the so-called Pacific Solution.” So the difference now is …?
Well, Gillard’s plan is to send boat people this time not to Nauru but East Timor, which to the Left is a holy land. Think Gusmao. Viva the Revolution!
Oops, sorry – there is one more difference. Rather than use again the detention centre at Nauru which we’ve already built, Gillard will spend a fortune on a new one in East Timor.
And until then the boats will keep coming, with 83 this year already. But get this. Rather than admit that Labor was wrong to dismantle the Pacific Solution and was now bringing it back, Gillard looked you in the eye and insisted you see black as white. “My Government is not interested in pursuing a new Pacific Solution,” she said without blushing. We’re not doing what you see us doing.
And guess what? Just hearing our charming first female Prime Minister insist her Pacific Solution was not a Pacific Solution was all it took to have some commentators doubt their own judgment and praise as “balanced” a plan they’d damned in Howard as inhumane. What a country.
You may think I’m overreacting to one line in a speech which one day may slow the flood of boat people that Labor stupidly unleashed by weakening our laws, following a policy drawn up largely by Gillard as its former immigration spokesman.
Don’t kid yourself. Gillard’s speech was full of such deceptions as she papered over chasms in Labor’s credibility.
Gillard’s claim: We are taking these steps in response to the increase in unauthorised people movements in our region and around the world.
The increase in boat people has been bigger here than almost anywhere else, thanks to Labor’s softening of our boat laws. Before those changes, we’d been getting on average just three boats a year. Now we’re getting three a week.
Gillard’s claim: I speak of the claim often made by Opposition politicians that they will, to quote, “turn the boats back”. This needs to be seen for what it is. It is a shallow slogan. It is nonsense.
Such hypocrisy. Guess which Labor leader in 2007 promised he’d “turn ’em back” too? Hint: Kevin Rudd. And which redhead said in 2002 that she wanted to do “everything we can to stop people smuggling” and “turning boats around that are seaworthy, that can make the return journey and are in international waters fits in with that”. Hint: No, it wasn’t Pauline Hanson, was it, Julia?
Gillard’s claim: Tony Abbott claims that the Howard government had an active policy of turning boats back. This is simply not true. For the entire time of the Howard government, only seven boats were turned back. The Howard government did not turn a boat back after 2003.
The reason Howard didn’t turn back boats after 2003 was that there were almost none left. The message had been sent and boat arrivals were down to three a year. Labor, however, has sent not one back.
Gillard’s claim: The Opposition is trying to sell the Australian community a fairy tale in which all you have to do is go out to an asylum seeker boat and turn it around and everything will be fixed. The facts are the boat will be scuttled and start to sink.
Boats are being scuttled now. Five Afghans were killed last year when they blew up their boat off Ashmore Reef. Twelve Sri Lankans drowned last year when their boat capsized off the Cocos Islands, just as they were being rescued. The Tamils who refused to leave our Oceanic Viking had been picked up after sending an SOS and reportedly drilling holes in their hull.
As for Abbott, he’s said only that he would turn back boats when, naturally, it was safe to do so. His more important promises are to bring back the Pacific Solution and to deny refugee status in most cases to boat people who dump their passports before landing here.
Gillard claims: The facts are that this nation would then be confronted with a stark choice: Either we could leave the scene in the certain knowledge people including children would drown or we could rescue the asylum seekers from the water. Gillard is insinuating the Liberals are so evil they’d leave people to drown. Labor made this same baseless suggestion after the sinking in Indonesian waters in 2001 of the Siev X.
Gillard claims: Today let me say one thing loud and clear: Our nation would not leave children to drown. Again that disgusting suggestion that the Liberals are child killers. The truth is it’s Labor which has policies that kill children. Since it weakened our border laws in 2008, up to 170 boat people have drowned at sea, lured to their deaths.
This is the stain on Labor’s conscience, and on Gillard’s – yet she damns the Liberals.
Labor’s policies, drawn up by Gillard, inspired a new flood of boats which has cost up to 170 lives and $1b of your money and left us with record numbers in detention.
Gillard is now offering a never-never fix – a new Pacific Solution in which boat people would be sent to some detention centre in East Timor. But that centre is not built. Gillard admits East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta has only “welcomed the conversation about this possibility”.
This is no fix. It’s just cynical spin, with half-baked plans rushed out to clear the decks for a dash to the polls before more boats expose the con.