James Allan

Labor’s total mess

Compromise in the world of the ABC, Fairfax, and even a few Newscorp writers.

Suppose you were married and you and your spouse had had a thriving jewellery business. It had been thriving because of you, not your spouse. You had set up all sorts of rules and protocols to ensure, let us say, that your business only sold certified legal diamonds. You had managed to keep all the illegal ones out, forcing sellers of blood diamonds to look elsewhere.

Then your spouse took a turn running the business. He started by dismantling your perfectly well-running systems that had kept out all these illegal diamonds. He talked about how these blood diamonds only came to Australia because of ‘push’ factors not ‘pull’ factors. He changed things so that anyone with a few blood diamonds would find it incredibly attractive to flood your area with them.

And as things got worse and worse, and as people even started dying trying to get these illegal jewels into the country, he comes to you and pleads with you to compromise and find a way to stop the flow of these things.

Now on this simple little scenario whose fault is it that things have gone awry? Surely not yours. You had a scheme and a system that worked almost perfectly in keeping illegal blood diamonds out. The fault is all your spouse’s.

So what does it mean to talk of compromise in this situation? Let’s say you know that it will soon be your turn to run the business again, no longer than in a year from now and maybe sooner if one or two of the board members retires early or actuarial odds force the need for one of them to be replaced.

Here’s what I think compromise means. It means saying “I was right. You were totally wrong. I will be going back to my system within the next year or thereabouts. So compromise means, dear, that you put back in place exactly my old system and we can then sit down and talk about a few tweaks here and there, in a nice bipartisan way, but AFTER you have restored things to the way they were. Otherwise this mess lies wholly on your head.”

Okay, so enough of the pretence and suppositions and imaginary marriages. What we’re really talking about is the boat people, a goodly number of whom are in fact illegal immigrants trying to skip a very generous Australian queue.

And the total mess that has been made of stopping the boats lies wholly at the door of Labor. It is patently obvious to everyone that the former Howard government policy worked in the sense of stopping them. It was a reckless folly to dismantle that scheme on the vague blather about ‘push’ not ‘pull’.

So now that the Labor scheme is imploding before us, with thousands of arrivals, hundreds dying in the waters, and no clue what to do, there is the beguiling chant of ‘compromise, compromise’.

But what does that plea amount to for Mr. Abbott? If Labor immediately offered to reinstate the former Howard scheme, that we all witnessed as working system, I am sure Mr. Abbott would offer to sit down and talk about tweaking it, after it was in place.

But any offer to move halfway to one of Labor’s half-baked schemes patently won’t work. The Malaysia so-called solution is a joke. True, I thought it outrageous that our High Court disallowed it. That was a terrible decision in my view. The elected Parliament ought to have been allowed to proceed and then we could have seen that it was a joke and that it would have failed too.

But it’s too late for that now. Sure, some journalists might offer pathetic little references to what ‘compromise’ means in the dictionary, and then return to their well-known siding with virtually everything Labor. But for the average voter it is patently clear that a scheme that worked was dismantled and this government refuses to put it back in place.

Bipartisanshipness is not something that only calls on Mr. Abbott to defer in part to Ms. Gillard. She has deferred not an iota to him on her carbon tax or her bribes to the voters. And her offers of ‘studying’ a system that we all know worked is a joke.

Where we are is the result of Labor listening to the Greens, full stop. Mr. Abbott bears no responsibility for this mess or the many deaths we are witnessing. Labor does. So compromise on this issue amounts to nothing less than Ms. Gillard reinstating, immediately, the system that worked before and then sitting down to talk about a few possible tweaks.

And that’s true whatever the left-leaning pundits on the ABC, in the Fairfax papers, and even some of the Newscorp writers say.

Subscribe to Quadrant magazine here… 

Leave a Reply