Go Now, Go Early and Make It About Border Security

READERS will know that the Medivac bill is nothing more than a naked attempt to dismantle offshore processing and bring every asylum seeker currently on Manus and Nauru to Australia under any and every medical pretext. Ostensibly, the bill is about bringing to Australia people who are so seriously ill they cannot be treated in Nauru or Manus.  People with life threatening conditions, in other words. Anyone who takes comfort in the supposed ministerial discretion conceded by the Greens and their fellow travellers in the ALP is seriously deluded.

The bill supposedly allows the minister to overrule a decision to transfer on the basis of the ‘patient’s’ criminal history or potential for terrorism.  However, if a person in one of these categories  were genuinely  in need of urgent life-saving treatment, would the activists meekly accept the refusal of a transfer?  We can be certain they would be screaming from the rooftop of the nearest ABC studio. Would the minister really refuse permission and allow someone to die offshore? Do we deny life-saving treatments to terrorists, rapists or murderers in our own prisons? In the hundreds of transfers that have already occurred, did the minister refuse even a single case on character grounds? Has anyone died because the minister refused a transfer? I think not.

The exemptions are meaningless in the overall asylum-seeker policy. Offshore processing is not specifically designed  to prevent terrorists or criminals coming to Australia, although this is certainly a fringe benefit, but to discourage undocumented and irregular arrivals.

The fact that Labor and the independents have acquiesced in these exemptions shows they don’t intend to honour them, that they know transferees will never leave Australia because the regime they have devised can be gamed with greater ease and thoroughness than the Victorian Premier’s Literature Award for non-fiction.

So where to from here?  Late last year I wrote in these pages that this outcome was possible and suggested that Morrison use the summer break to gird his loins for an early election. This morning I heard Andrew Probyn opine on the ABC that Morrison would not hold off presenting this bill for Royal assent.   He’s probably right, because I don’t think Morrison has the ticker for that, and it would mean, almost certainly, an early election.

But consider this: if Morrison were to advise the Governor-General to withhold assent and, at the same time, advise an election in, say, four weeks’ time, the campaign would be fought on the issue of border security/national sovereignty – the one issue on which the Coalition undoubtedly has the runs on the board. As the Coalition is determined to avoid tackling the energy mess lest that tack offend the factional leaders and spear-carriers who do the renewable rent-seekers’ bidding and are, in some cases, on their payroll, this is the big issue upon which it can win.

Shorten has exposed his weakness on this front but the momentum won’t last.  Even if we see an increased number of transfers, it’s unlikely the ABC will immediately need to reactivate its log of leaky boat arrivals. People smugglers are morally wretched but not stupid. They’ll likely wait until Labor is installed before wishing a hearty ‘bon voyage’ to the first of the reborn armada making for Christmas Island. The pause will permit Shorten to argue that the Medivac bill has not prompted the dire outcome predicted by the government. As a consequence and as an election issue, the Coalition will find border security a much harder issue from which to harvest votes.

Yes, the timing of any federal poll is complicated by the NSW election due in March and by the government’s desire to bring down a surplus budget.  It’s a difficult call but, as a general rule, when your wave comes in you had better ride it.

  • pgang

    I hope this issue re-sets the thinking of many conservatives who were planning on deserting Morrison.

  • Peter OBrien

    At the risk of labouring the point, if activists doctors were prepared to allow critically ill terrorists or rapists to languish on Nauru, it would totally give the lie to the claim that this is a health issue.

  • brandee

    Peter, this is a very appealing proposal. Border protection is about the only issue the Coalition can be united on. You briefly mention their weakness on energy and of course Morrison owes his present position to the lobbying effort of Michael Photios with his links to companies such as AGL that receive subsidies for intermittent renewable energy.

  • Rob Brighton

    Peter, hope springs eternal but I seriously doubt if the coalition has a hope in hell. Even if Short-on-ethics rowed the boat himself in Darwin harbor laden with AK47 wielding immigrants shrieking alluha akbah he will still be picking up the keys to Kirrabilli soon after the election.

    He is a shoe-in, it is a laydown misare and we shall have to pick up the pieces afterwards.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    If only the LNP had adopted the Christmas Island Solution several years ago they would be in a better place today. Still terminal, but at least better for the nation.


    “Given the Abbott government is committed to “taking the sugar off the table”, ending people-smuggling and enhancing Indonesian relations, it could achieve all three objectives by gifting these island outposts to our nearest neighbour on Christmas Day, 2015.

    What better way to mark the 372th anniversary of Christmas Island’s discovery than by resolving “Indonesia’s sorest point”” — an unratified sea-border issue — and demolishing the smuggler business-model with the stroke of a pen?

    There is more at stake today than philatelic sales for Australia Post; our reputation on the international stage. For its retention as a bureaucratic quasi-penal entrepôt suggests to the world that we are a regressive nation, acting out a dark and brutal chapter from our colonial past.”

  • Lewis P Buckingham

    Just looking at the full page ad in yesterdays Australian it was hard to see all the doctors marching in closed ranks for importing the ill of Manus into Australia.
    Several religious orders, whose membership is regrettably vanishingly small, even a vet hospital, made the grade.
    There is a case for boosting the on site treatment, especially of the mentally ill, while the camps are phased out. Major surgeries could be air lifted to naval vessels or sites in New Guinea itself.
    Significant, in their impact, numbers of the criminally insane have come to our shores as welcomed guests and caused turmoil in places as far apart as Melbourne, Parramatta and Martin Place.
    These just kill innocents.
    I don’t trust the screening.
    One of my children missed the Melbourne ‘driver’ by 15 minutes, another planned to be in Marseilles on the day of the mad truck ‘driver’ in the same boulevard, but altered plans the day before.
    We need a planned, directed, refugee program, not a self selected one, run by the refugee smugglers.
    Even the pope came out and suggested that a country can only accept numbers that are reasonably able to be assimilated.
    The Europeans are on a sharp learning curve.
    The debate could be better placed as one about securing our borders and then accepting more refugees.
    On our terms.
    In the meanwhile I can tell you of four people dying in the last three weeks from the domain of Sydney streets.
    Aboriginal communities are in a worse shape than anyone on a pacific island.

    This is clearly blowing up as an election issue.
    It distracts from real illness and unaddressed social problems that are unfunded here at home.
    Since someone will be calling for another royal commission into something here is a suggestion.
    Try one on the telco’s. Now here is an area that has popular appeal and needs fixing.
    I have been supremely ripped off in my porting to the NBN and change over to the NBN.
    Fees for no service,unaddressed delays where diversion reaps rewards for the telco by charging high fees.
    Its time to take control of the narrative.

  • Peter OBrien

    Well bugger me, for once Niki Savva and I are on the same page! (https://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/why-scott-morrison-should-have-called-a-snap-poll/news-story/88ad2f527b1bd4550e3c8fe6f892e69c)
    Not sure whether to feel vindicated or to start re-examining my logic.

  • Jody

    I think the Coalition would be foolish to over-egg the pudding. I’m sure the smugglers will wait until Labor is ensconced and then pounce. That will mean a ONE TERM Labor government. That’s fair. The people will have a huge national bill, again; that’s fair. And retirees like ourselves will restructure our affairs to go on the public purse; also fair.

  • Davidovich

    Peter, I understand your dilemma wrt Savva, and recognising even a broken (analogue) clock is right twice a day, it is doubtful the public will be sufficiently convinced to return the Coalition. On balance, I would still go long and try to keep giving more reasons for people to vote Coalition and not Labor.

  • pgang

    Peter I think the Savva aritcle means that you are wrong 🙂

    But seriously, she wants Labor elected and knows that as time goes on the chances of that happening diminish.

    Anyway I don’t agree that a snap election over a single issue is the way to go. Morrison is building public confidence. Certainly this issue is a game changer, but a snap election would have just had the electorate rolling their eyeballs once again. It would have just meant more uncertainty and unpredictability from the government. Morrison is right to stick to his script. He is doing an excellent job and deserves another term.

  • en passant

    pgang at al,
    The Coalition has no chance as the choice is between the time-serving money-grubbing hacks of the ilLiberal Party or the worse time-serving, union hacks of the communi… sorry, I meant Labor Party with the Green Algae brainless jellyfish attached.
    Surely it is time to give first to 10th preferences to the ‘minor’ conservative parties before eating the Liberal hemlock?
    All I can say about the wonderful diversity brought to Melbourne by our African youth is thank goodness I don’t live anywhere near the Labor electorates where they abound.

  • pgang

    en passant you seem to be confusing the lower house with the upper house. It is the lower house that forms government, not the upper. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lower house ballot with more than 5 candidates. The situation we have at the moment, with the executive in a lower house minority, reminds me of the ridiculous Dumas of the Russian government a hundred plus years ago.
    Apart from that, it is the scourge of the minor ‘parties’ trying to take control via the senate and the inevitable preferencing that is causing so much of the chaos for the executive.
    A fact remains a fact whether we like it or not. There are only two potential governing parties in Australia, and that’s a fact. Attempts to side-step them only result in a weaker system.
    I think the Coalition is in with a chance this election, albeit small. Morrison is campaigning well – what a breath of fresh air after the Abbott/Hockey opacity and the odiously inept Turnbull. Morrison’s weakness in my opinion is his constant virtue-signalling donations of small millions to ‘worthy’ causes. He is addicted to these handouts of our money. Perhaps he sees it as a cheap way to curry favour with the electorate.

  • Jody

    The best the government can hope for is some saved furniture. The smugglers will return after the election and Labor will be in a position to suppress those arrivals, aided and abetted by their ABC and assorted left wing media outlets. That’s where we need News Limited and they MUST be well-resourced and vigilant. Once boats arrive in numbers – turn-backs or not – Labor is guaranteed one term.

    And the Coalition IS united on imputation credit reversals, reduction in CGT concession and removal of negative gearing – just for starters. Have you also seen Shorten’s proposal to re-instate ‘entitlements’ for workers – which amounts to double dipping.

    I look across the dispatch box in QT and the flotsam and jetsam which is Labor, so very very few of them capable of understanding how any business operates and pulled around on a leash held by activist 14 year old school students. Putrid society.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.