Wilson Tuckey, supergenius

Kevin Rudd must secretly love Wilson Tuckey, in the way that one might value a psychopath who happens to inhabit the enemy bunker and can’t actually fire a weapon. In other words, Tuckey plays right into Rudd’s political message.

Perhaps feeling a little defensive over all the condemnation of his boat terrorist hypothesis, Tuckey latched onto a breadcrumb left by one Dr Victor Rajakulendran:

That is a probability, that is what I have been told, so out of 200 Tamil asylum seekers, there could be a Tiger. They are also fleeing the country like any other Tamils because their life is also in danger and I would say their life is in more danger than a common Tamil civilian. The common Tamil civilians are leaving the country because of fear of their lives – these people also will definitely flee the country so they could be in the boat.

There you go. Terrorists on boats – case closed. I won’t make too much of Tuckey himself supposedly using this as evidence to support his position. It doesn’t, of course, for reasons that I think are obvious given the above quote. Tuckey previously referred specifically to people coming to Australia with hostile intent, and I doubt that blowing things up in Australia is a terribly appealing strategy for someone fighting for a homeland in the north of Sri Lanka.

In this instance, all he had to say was: “Well, I think it authenticates it. It is quite interesting of course.” As silly as this is, it sounds like a throw-away response to a journalist’s question, which raises two points:

  1. It’s not clear what the question actually was (cue Douglas Adams); and
  2. Tuckey may not have heard the actual quote before he responded, but merely an interpretation of it.

If I had more time to dig up useless factoids, I might be able to figure that out. However, I don’t, and so I’m going with my own theory that someone was simply pushing Tuckey’s buttons, which I imagine isn’t a terribly hard thing to do.

Not to leave us too disappointed, however, Tuckey offers us this additional morsel of insight:

What is [the asylum seekers’] health status and what threat, unfortunately, might they represent to children and others within Australia.

To children, Wilson? Terrorism isn’t enough for you, eh? Now you’re sagely warning us that they might be terrorist paedophiles?

It’s teh boat terrorists!

The existence of Wilson Tuckey is truly an unnecessary contribution to the heat death of the universe. Quite predictably, he suggests that terrorists are lurking among asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Sayeth the Great Purveyor of Entropy, himself a convicted criminal:

If you wanted to get into Australia and you have bad intentions what do you do?

Board a plane, perhaps? No no, our illustrious former minister of the Howard Government has a much more efficient and sophisticated proposition:

You insert yourself in a crowd of 100 for which there is great sympathy for the other 99 and you go on a system where nobody brings their papers, you have no identity you have no address.

That’s right! No papers! I mean, how will we know who the terrorists are without the enormous, bright red “TERRORIST” stamp that magically appears in the passport of anyone intending to commit such an act in the future? And these evildoers could gain entry in a matter of months, while being subjected to nothing more than a thorough background check by the immigration authorities, a few headlines in major newspapers and a stint in the Christmas Island detention centre. Not like those terrible long-haul plane trips, where the meals are awful, the seating is cramped and the security is so tight that they x-ray your baggage.

This from a man who still inhabits the corridors of power.

The Liberal war

Costello is quitting politics, Wilson Tuckey isn’t quitting politics, Peter Dutton (the shadow health minister) has had politics quit on him. Turnbull is the voice of (relative) sanity in the Liberal Party, but not many – either in the Party or in the wider population – seem inclined to listen to it.

Some seem to be in the market for a new messiah in Joe Hockey or Tony Abbott, to save them from the horror of endorsing an emissions trading scheme and thus actually doing something constructive for humanity. Perish the thought that the Liberal leadership should be driving at such things. Better bulldoze them aside and continue squabbling over interest rates before anything useful happens. I’m not convinved that Hockey would be any more popular or politically savvy than Turnbull, and Abbott I think would be a disaster.

On a somewhat different track, Howard isn’t giving up the ideological game either. On motives for victory in Afghanistan, from an ABC article:

What we’ve got to ask ourselves is, what is the consequence of failure in Afghanistan? And that would be an enormous blow to American prestige, it would greatly embolden the terrorist cause.

This is predictable Howard rhetoric, and it gives some insight into his mindset. He actually does see American “prestige” as a commodity worth fighting for. Not freedom, democracy, security or any other desirable facet of society, but image, and not even the image of the country of which he was the second-longest serving prime minister. This is a war, not a beauty contest. There are real people dying out there – how many innocent lives is one country’s “prestige” worth?

I think there is probably a grain of truth in the idea that a withdrawal from Afghanistan could be used in Al Qaeda propaganda, but an “enormous blow”? Since Obama came to office, the world hasn’t seen America in quite the same slight belligerent light. Of course, Obama hasn’t actually done that much yet (a rather premature Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding), but even so he has helped redefine America’s image. I think that people throughout the world are probably far less inclined now to view the US as a conquering power. Consequently, there is less propaganda value in a US defeat as there would be if the hawks were still running things.

I actually happen to agree that, on balance, the Afghan War is an important one to win, but my argument has more to do with the prospect of the Taliban condemning society (especially women) to live in the dark ages. Yes, it’s certainly true that Western military might cannot solve all the world’s problems, and in many situations can be a problem in itself. However, it would be encouraging if we could solve just this one, to help Afghan society back from the precipice.

The problem with that argument, from Howard’s general nationalistic-conservative point of view, is that it’s not our society hovering above the precipice. To argue this case might be to admit that human rights and civil liberties are worth fighting for. If we start saying things like that, where does it end?

The hardliners of the Liberal Party might ask themselves why the election is worth winning. For the prestige of the Party?

Even hypocrites can be right

Julie Bishop is making the case that Stern Hu – the Rio Tinto executive mysteriously detained in Shanghai – should be released after having been detained for 7 days without charge.

This is just a bit rich, considering her party’s time in government saw:

  1. the excessive detention for months and even years of completely innocent people – asylum seekers who are overwhelmingly genuine refugees; and
  2. the implementation of preventative detention orders, whereby a person can be detained by the AFP for 14 days without charge. (One might argue that terrorism is a lot more serious than whatever it is Stern Hu may or may not be caught up in, but the legal principle of habeus corpus does not make such distinctions.)

She’s basically right this time, of course – better to be inconsistent than consistently nasty – though I’m not sure of the wisdom of making an international incident out of it.

Paul Kelly’s thoughts on this are interesting. For all its centuries of history and accumulated wisdom, this incident seems to suggest that the current Chinese regime is actually somewhat ignorant of the way the world works.

What matters in this election?

There’s an online poll on the ABC’s 4 Corners website regarding the election. The first question asks “In the last two weeks of the campaign what do you see as the SINGLE most important issue?” You are given a choice between “Economy/Interest rates”, “Climate change”, “Industrial relations”, “Education” and “Health”.

Important for whom? Us or the politicians?

But what’s really missing from this picture? After the intervention in the Northern Territory to impose the Libs’ ideals of capitalism and individualism by force on the Aboriginal people, after the ongoing mandatory detention of people whose only “crime” is trying to escape their wartorn homelands for a better life in Australia, after the “Pacific solution” in which these people suddenly became so unimaginably dangerous that they were not even allowed to set foot on Australian soil, after our continuing support for the catastrophic war in Iraq, after the two-faced bribery of Saddam Hussein to the tune of $300 million, after the detention and even deportation of Australian citizens for being unable to produce a passport, after the introduction of terrorism legislation that bulldozes some of our most basic legal rights, after witnessing the opacity and unaccountability of ASIO and the AFP in their roles under that legislation, after the introduction of “control orders” to bypass the legal system and impose sanctions on people for whom there is no evidence of guilt…

Can we not, just once, put aside the ridiculous charade of deciding who can manage the economy better and focus on the real world?