When it really is time to say “Sorry” for what they have done and the harm they have caused, Australia’s Left are missing in action.

It’s time to man up and apologise

Miranda Devine

IF THE plight of asylum seekers weren’t so tragic, you’d be tempted to burst into derisive laughter at the 11th-hour admissions by Robert Manne that the handwringing Left got it woefully wrong on border protection.

There he was on the ABC’s Q&A program last week, doing his best imitation of an eminence grise rather then an obscure academic from a lesser Melbourne university.

He was asked if it was fair for the Prime Minister to keep pressuring a developing nation like East Timor to establish a refugee processing centre, when that nation continuously states it doesn’t want one.

Good question. Especially to Manne, one of the chief denigrators of John Howard and the Pacific Solution, which slowed the flow of asylum-seeker boats to a trickle of one or two a year.

“I have to say that I think the Rudd government made a mistake and it pains me to say this, actually,” said Manne. “I think it was a mistake to believe that if you humanised the policy you wouldn’t have a return of the boats. I think the Left, generally speaking, has been dishonest about that question.”

Manne should now apologise to Howard, Philip Ruddock, Peter Costello, Kim Beazley, the Navy, Coalition voters and every rational Australian for branding them heartless racists. But mostly, he should apologise to the thousands of men, women and children who spent their life savings to make dangerous voyages, lured by the mirage of compassion he and his self-righteous friends conjured up.

Julian Burnside should apologise too. And Tom Keneally and his sewn-up lips. We don’t hear much from them these days, with more than 6000 boat people in detention, including children, compared with just four at the end of the Howard era in 2007.

Why aren’t David Marr and Marian Wilkinson writing another book accusing the Prime Minister of having deliberately murdered boat people, as they did to John Howard?

Why isn’t Hannie Rayson writing a play, Two Sisters, like her Two Brothers, a vicious slander of Costello, portraying him as a mass murderer who delighted in the drowning of asylum seekers? Because, of course, Australians wanted asylum seekers dead.

Historian and Quadrant editor Keith Windschuttle remembers a conference at Oxford University at which one of the speakers, Labor luminary Barry Jones, claimed Australians thought boat people should be “shot in the water”.

Windschuttle stood up and challenged him: “If you said that in Australia you’d be chased out of the room.”

But Jones’s lie was part of the narrative the chattering classes were busy promoting, of Australia as irredeemably racist, when, in fact, it is one of the most successful and harmonious immigrant nations.

Source: Sunday Herald Sun


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