Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gillard ‘backflip’ is courageous and honourable

In so far as it’s possible to do so in a race to the bottom, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has this week acquitted herself with courage and honour.

When Parliament rose at end of June with the country crying out for a solution to the critical impasse, the PM undertook to abide by whatever recommendations were arrived at by the expert panel.

True to her word she has thus far done so, and at great political cost to herself and her party.

The Opposition’s demand for an apology from the PM is utterly risible. It demurred with regard to the expert panel, sitting with comfort on its hands as the boats kept coming. As Peter van Onselen wrote at the time:

One well-placed Liberal source told The Australian that Abbott would rather see Labor continue to bleed politically with ongoing boat arrivals. If that means deaths at sea continue, he said, so be it.

Or as Graeme Richardson more succinctly put it:

Abbott won’t budge, won’t compromise and won’t lose a wink of sleep over it...

Abbott has apparently “stopped short” of condemning the PM for having “blood on her hands” over deaths at sea since Rudd and Gillard dismantled the Howard-era Pacific Solution.

It remains to be seen whether this is some kind of quaint magnanimity, or whether he simply fears it may come back to bite him in the event Pacific Solution Mk II fails to stop the boats.

As well it may.


I wonder if there’s been a cynical, opportunistic, “blood on their hands” political blame-game in the Euro Zone...

Rescue operations in the Mediterranean are hampered by poor coordination, disputes over responsibility, disincentives for commercial vessels to conduct rescues, and an emphasis on border enforcement, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper published today.

People fleeing persecution or seeking a better life attempt the dangerous crossing from the North African coast to Europe, often in unseaworthy and dangerous boats. An Eritrean man lived to tell of the deaths of all 54 of his fellow passengers when their small dinghy sank in the Mediterranean in early July, 2012, bringing the known death toll this year to 170. As many as 13,500 people have died in such efforts at crossing since 1998, including at least 1,500 in 2011, the deadliest on record. [My emphasis.]

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