The Liberal Party has reminded me in no uncertain terms why I (at least) voted it out at the last election. John Howard was a competent leader, and his government can take the credit for several good deeds. However, these cannot make up for an (almost) complete lack of conscience regarding refugee policy. I can accept that the Liberal Party, by its nature, is given to supporting a free-market approach to things, including privatisation, individual workplace agreements, etc. In many cases I don’t agree with this philosophy (particularly where it disadvantages the poor, and asks the private sector to maintain infrastructure and services that are not commercially viable), but I do respect it at some academic level as an alternate perspective. Refugee intake, on the other hand, is a humanitarian issue that must surely transcend squabbles over how much control the government should exercise over the economy. You don’t screw around with humanitarian issues, unless you’re John Howard and your (re-)election depends on the irrational fear of outsiders. It’s not just wrong – it’s obscene.
This is a deficiency that the Liberals’ time in opposition has clearly not remedied. Evidentially the lull in hysteria since the “children overboard” and Tampa scandals was not the product of enlightenment, but merely a truce. Ideologically-aligned elements of the media are now helping Turnbull in making bizarre leaps of logic and claims of a government conspiracy. But this time, the facts – the ones that we actually know – seem to be making a greater impression. The government, as far as anyone can legitimately tell, is doing precisely what it should be doing, given the latest grisly incident. Meanwhile, those who do possess – simultaneously – a brain, a conscience and a sense of perspective are speaking out* in defence of some of the most vulnerable people we will ever hear about. The few Liberals who do so deserve a great deal of respect.
* Some articles you might peruse on the subject:
- David Marr – Trauma by the boatload
- Andrew Bartlett – Asylum seekers in boats – hysteria 2.0
- Andrew Bartlett – Whatever the answer is, it isn’t Temporary Protection Visas
- Possum Comitatus – Why Andrew Bolt should be Sodomised with a Calculator – Part 142