Tuesday, 21 April 2009
The media’s coverage of the burning refugee boat has been absolutely irresponsible. Its hyping and sensationalising of the incident has provoked irrational fears and behaviour among the most emotional and vulnerable section of Australian society – our political class.
Especially, it would seem, the most confused members of it, the federal coalition. Did Malcolm Turnbull really mean to end up saying that Rudd’s calling of the coming recession was a ‘distraction’? This may not seem too much of a mistake now, but as time goes on, and this tragic event pales into insignificance against the wider concerns of the economic crisis, it will be seen (and possibly used by Labor) as the tactically stupid move it was.
It has been fascinating to watch the coalition go through its motions over the last week as it was worked on by the media. First we had Turnbull reining in the dogs and the coalition immigration spokesperson back-tracking within hours of trying to make a link between the burning boat and government policy. Turnbull was virtually indistinguishable from Rudd attacking people smugglers, only trying to outdo the PM in the moral condemnation of their evilness (a futile task). This back-tracking was largely ignored by the media and those of the left who were hoping for a re-run of the Howard Years.
Then Turnbull appeared to creep inch by inch to some sort harder position by talking about TPVs. He may have needed to respond to the media frenzy but also the ‘personal’ opinion of Kevin Andrews who, being responsible for the greatest national security/immigration stuff up since Egon Kisch, the coalition has sensibly decided to put in charge of re-drafting its immigration policy.
However, even Turnbull’s fudge, where he was calling for the government to consider the re-introduction of TPVs, while refusing to say whether they should, was not enough to prevent another performance from the Liberals Who Care Theatre Workshop.
From the government’s side, Rudd was, as usual, internationalising it, claiming that “the reality is we are facing huge additional numbers across the archipelago, coming off global factors.” Good, that will calm things down.
Meanwhile back in reality, Newspoll says that 36% think tighter laws will make a difference, over half think there’s no point. Not exactly the “savage” thinking that David Marr on Insiders thought was out there (where does he hang out?). It wasn’t enough on which to differentiate between the Labor and the Coalition (27%/26%) on the issue, with a third uncommitted between the two. It was certainly not enough to change a vote which remained fixed on 58/42 (you know which way). The Newspoll CEO thought the general indifference was because “the issue has yet to fully play out”. What, we have not heard enough about this already?
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Tuesday, 21 April 2009.Filed under Tactics