Thursday, 16 December 2010
Why shouldn’t the death of tens of asylum seekers in a boating accident be a political issue? After all, if politics is supposed to be a debate about the solutions to social problems, surely the deaths from this tragedy should make a debate on what to do about it more urgent, not less.
In reality, of course, the debate over asylum seekers hasn’t been about them at all, but about the major parties. For Labor, it’s been the way it has understood (especially in NSW) its detachment from its own base, the insecurities of which came out at Rudd’s dumping. For the Coalition, it’s been how they have reconciled their own internal problem of maintaining a redundant right wing agenda, but still being electorally viable. That became a whole lot easier after Labor legitimised the debate and prevented the sort of problems Colin Barnett ran into during the last boat tragedy off Ashmore Reef when he suggested that the fire on the boat was caused by the asylum seekers (which turned out be true apparently).
That neither of the major parties have anything to say is implicit in Gillard’s call for a bipartisan committee to look into the issue. But having legitimised the debate since Ashmore, and given a solution to the Liberals, they certainly aren’t going to give it up now.
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Thursday, 16 December 2010.Filed under Tactics