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PostSubject: Labor's woeful record...    Labor's woeful record...  EmptyThu 14 Feb 2019, 2:17 pm

Labor has sent clear message to people smugglers: Australia’s open for business
The Mocker
February 14, 2019

Thanks to a Johnny-come-lately independent MP, together with Labor and the Greens, the government no longer has the final say as to whether offshore asylum-seekers are brought to Australia for medical treatment. With parliament having passed Dr Kerryn Phelps’s private member’s bill this week, any two doctors can compel this.

The refugee transfer bill will only allow the immigration minister to prevent transfers on national security grounds or if the asylum seeker has a substantial criminal record. If the Minister raises objections on other grounds, the matter is referred to an independent panel of doctors. The Australian Medical Association will have a seat at that table.

For Phelps, a former federal president of the AMA, this is a no-brainer. “We need to see medical decisions made about medical treatment taken out of the hands of bureaucrats,” she said earlier this month. Neglecting to mention these so-called bureaucrats operate at the direction of a democratically-elected government, Phelps has now placed these decisions in the hands of unelected doctors.

Phelps maintains, as she told ABC’s Fran Kelly on Tuesday, this legislation was merely a case of finding a “medical solution to a medical problem”. This is specious. The government’s ability to regulate the transfer of asylum seekers to Australia is crucial to the effectiveness of an offshore processing system.

Yet Phelps breezily told Kelly: “I don’t believe that anything in this legislation will affect border protection at all”, in spite of security advice from the Department of Home Affairs that “the effect of this bill will undermine the Australian government’s regional processing arrangements”. Her obtuse attitude is a manifestation of the medical profession’s “God syndrome”, the mistaken belief that the wearing of a stethoscope bestows one with the wisdom of Solomon.

Just imagine if we extended Phelps’s rationale of removing these decisions from government and transferring them to professional associations. For example, let’s place responsibility for tort law reform solely within the former Plaintiff Lawyers’ Association. Why not? As Phelps would undoubtedly say, it is best left to experts.

Likewise, we could palm off responsibility for deciding education policy to the various teachers’ unions. You know, the same ones that encourage their members to wear ‘Close the Camps’ T-shirts to indoctrinate our kids. As for deciding whether we should go to war in the future, we should hand that decision to the Australian Defence Force. After all, a military problem calls for a military solution. How is your reasoning looking now, Dr Phelps?

If you think the AMA is the voice of objectivity, think again. Only this week its paediatric representative, Dr Paul Bauert, claimed on Sky News that the plight of asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru was worse than that of inmates at Auschwitz. “Even those who finally knew they were about to be condemned to the gas chamber at least found some sense of relief in knowing what was happening,” he said, an assertion that was as risible as it was despicable. Perhaps Phelps could explain how her “independent panel’’ would benefit with reasoning of this nature.

Only last December Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was “determined that the people-smugglers don’t get back into business”. In voting for the Phelps bill he has sent a clear message to the people smugglers that Australia is open for business.

Shorten’s insouciance is indicative of Labor intransigence on border protection. In 2008, when the trickle of unauthorised arrivals began following the dismantling of the Howard Government’s Pacific Solution, immigration minister Chris Evans declared: “The interception of this group of unauthorised arrivals clearly demonstrated the Rudd Government’s border security arrangements are working.” They worked a treat all right, apart from 50,000 unauthorised arrivals and around 1200 drownings at sea.

Complementing Labor’s incompetence in asylum seeker policy was its pusillanimity in not holding Indonesia to account. At best, Indonesian officials were indifferent to the people smugglers who operated from their country to Australia’s detriment, a contemptuous attitude reinforced by the unwillingness of the Rudd and Gillard governments to enforce border protection by measures such as boat turn-backs.

The extent of Labor’s subservience to Indonesia was demonstrated by immigration minister Chris Bowen in 2012 when Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced the Coalition intended using the navy to turn back unlawful arrivals. Such a measure, Bowen insisted in the manner of a supplicant, could not happen without Jakarta’s approval. Since when did this country require another nation’s approval to police our borders?

Then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s reaction to Abbott’s policy verged on hysteria. “I really wonder whether he’s trying to risk some sort of conflict with Indonesia,” he said in 2013. Not only did it prove Rudd was a foreign relations dilettante, it also showed his hypocrisy. In 2007, on the eve of the election, he declared himself in favour of turn-backs, saying deterrence was achieved by taking “appropriate action as the vessels approach Australian waters on the high seas.”

Yet another Labor immigration minister, Brendan O’Connor, said in July 2013 that the turn-back policy was “more slogan than solution” and would not counter people smuggling. In the following month his replacement, Tony Burke — the fourth minister to occupy that portfolio since Labor assumed government in 2007 — was similarly paralysed by timidity and incompetence. “It would be absurd to think you can take a naval vessel to someone else’s shore without provoking a reaction,” he said, misconstruing the Coalition’s policy.

Upon assuming government, Abbott implemented turn-backs, which quickly resulted in reducing the number of unauthorised arrivals. Despite this Shorten obstinately claimed “There’s no doubt in my mind that the coalition’s boat person policy is absolutely not working”. He was joined by Labor’s shadow immigration minister, Richard Marles. “We have had Indonesia from day one saying they won’t accept tow-backs,” he said in November 2013. “It was inevitably going to fail.” A year later a sheepish Marles admitted the turn-backs “had an impact” in stopping unlawful arrivals, yet he whined “Indonesia obviously hates this policy”.

In 2015, Shorten, just prior to asking Labor’s national conference to end its opposition to turn-backs, defended his party’s previous stance. “Well, I don’t think that when the previous policy was brought in, people foresaw the extent to which the people smugglers would exploit the system,” he told Sunrise host David Koch. Impressively he managed to keep a straight face.

At the subsequent conference frontbencher Anthony Albanese opposed this new policy, saying he did not believe a future Labor government would need to turn back any boat at sea. Incredibly he maintained the reason for this belief was the party’s undertaking to double Australia’s humanitarian intake. He was joined in his opposition by deputy leader Tanya Plibersek and fellow frontbencher Penny Wong.

Prior to Labor’s national conference last December, this power trio of the left gave lukewarm assurance they would support the party’s border protection policies while not saying whether they supported turn-backs. How foreboding it is that they, together with Shorten, Bowen, Burke, Marles, and O’Connor will likely be sitting in Cabinet this year to decide our immigration policies?

Incidentally, try naming off the top of your head the shadow immigration minister. If you had difficulty in coming up with the name Shayne Neumann, you are not the only one. His unobtrusiveness is remarkable given border protection has emerged as the main issue on which the election will be fought. He finally surfaced on ABC’s 7.30 last night, prompting Bevan Shields, Canberra bureau chief for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, to quip he had been released from witness protection.

“I want to give a message … to those criminal cartels,” Neumann told 7.30 host Leigh Sales yesterday. “If you put people on boats, those people will never settle; they will never come to Australia under Labor government. Our position is really clear.”

When pressed by Sales as to why people should trust Labor given the party’s overturning of the successful Pacific solution and the influx and drownings that followed, a hapless Neumann could not answer her question.

The refugee transfer bill is yet to receive royal assent, but already Labor is blaming others for its consequences. Yesterday Neumann said of the government “They’re a walking, talking billboard for people smugglers at the moment.” O’Connor accused the government of a “treacherous act” in supposedly encouraging the trade.

Their defensiveness is a case of projection. As The Australian reported today, up to 300 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru have secured recommendations from doctors to enable transfers to Australia. To insist this is necessary on this scale is ridiculous: there is one medical professional for every seven in care in Nauru and one mental health practitioner per 14 people. In one respect Neumann was right. Labor’s position is “really clear”. It will retain the offshore processing system, but in name only.

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” wrote Shakespeare. The saying has become synonymous with a weary feeling of déjà vu, although the words were written in honour of a medieval king who urged his army to attack the French, even if it meant it would “close the wall up with our English dead”. On that note one wonders how far proponents of relaxing border protection will go to demonstrate their ideological purity. Sadly, as we have already seen, some are determined to do this in the extreme, even if it means the oceans are — once again — afloat with bodies.
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PostSubject: Re: Labor's woeful record...    Labor's woeful record...  EmptyFri 08 Mar 2019, 11:36 am

Wonder if ScoMo will arrange for a couple of boats to arrive ?

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