It is difficult to imagine that Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison will surrender his high political profile and undoubted effectiveness by signing on to the 22 Houston panel recommendations released yesterday.
The asylum seeker debate has been good for Mr Morrison and the Opposition, ranking with carbon pricing as an issue that has consistently rattled the Government.
This has ensured he is a Question Time constant, one of a handful of Opposition front benchers who regularly gets the nod to take on his ministerial opponent.
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In this week’s ICB, The Punch calls bullshit on Shadow Immigration Minister and regular Punch contributor Scott Morrison, for citing a thing called the Social Cohesion Index at yesterday’s National Press Club address to show that Australia is going down the gurgler under Labor.
There are any number of indicators which Morrison might’ve chosen to bolster that increasingly popular thesis. Yet he chose an obscure, little known indicator, and if you ask us, there’s a sneaky reason why he did it.
Morrison, in short, was dog whistling. In a speech littered with references to asylum seekers, the Member for Cook thundered “it is a real concern that social cohesion in Australia has declined by 8.6% since the Labor government was elected. His inference was clear: All those illegal immigrants are tearing us apart.
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I have just returned from spending five weeks in India. The purpose of the trip was to deliver a number of papers and lectures, attending various conferences including the Indian Association for the Study of Australia – a three-day conference looking at the cultural interactions between the two nations.
Leading up to the World Cup, there were obviously discussions about cricket, but the history is a lot more complicated than that, as our nations are intertwined in ways that most of us are ignorant of.
For example, Professor Deb Narayan Bandyopadhyay is researching the way our two countries collaborated during the World Fair in the nineteenth century. Researcher Amit Ranjan presented a personal account of his research into the grave of Australian Alice Garden who died of cholera in Calcutta in 1882: Why was she there? What kind of interactions did she represent?
Another issue that is often raised is the experience of Indian students in Australia - not only the attacks of last year, but the more general encounters between Australians and Indians. In the context of a history that includes the mistreatment of indigenous Australians and the infamous ‘White Australia Policy’, I am asked: ‘Is Australia a racist country?’
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You’ve heard a lot about the asylum policy debate in the media. The Government announces a new policy. The opposition denounces any new policy. Talk back radio goes back and forth about the best way to deal with this issue. If all this noise about asylum seekers makes you almost believe there is thought put into how to develop best practice approaches, think again. You’ve been conned.
For those of you who have seen The Usual Suspects, asylum seekers are Kaiser Sozé. A made up bogey-man criminal used to distract you from what is really going on.
It’s all just a political marketing campaign from both parties aimed at marginal seat voters. They use the boatpeople debate to define their party’s image. ‘Cruel to be kind’ for the Coalition, with ‘tough but humane’ for Labor. The reality is, when you analyse policies from both parties from a purely rationalist public policy angle, they both fail the test.
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In the giddy afterglow of Kevin07, as the nation’s lefties rejoiced at exorcising the devil that was John Howard, it was assumed that the nation would become a more compassionate place. These same people obviously haven’t been paying attention.
There are now more children in detention than there were under Howard. Right now there’s 1045 of them. Just 28 of them are in community detention; that is, not behind bars but being cared for in private homes, in keeping with the softer policy that Howard introduced in 2005.
One of these children, Seena Aqhlaqi Sheikhdost, was trundled back to Christmas Island this week, a few hours after he had buried his parents. Whether you agree or disagree with mandatory detention, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that locking up a nine-year-old on the day he’s attended his parents’ funeral meets the dictionary definition of compassion.
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Whatever flapping around there might be in public as the Liberals sort out their lines on boat people funerals, the activity beneath the surface is a lot more manic.
The ``insensitive’’—his word—comments by Scott Morrison and the implied rejection by colleague Joe Hockey on Tuesday picked the stitches from some old Liberal Party wounds.
It’s not a matter of policy debate. The Opposition will be united in questioning the $300,000 charter bill for getting the 21 mourners from Christmas Island to Sydney.
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The new paradigm has begun to play mind games with our federal MPs. Yesterday nobody was quite sure what was expected of them. At times it was a little embarrassing to watch, like some awkward kid consistently dancing out of time at the Rock Eisteddfod
Manager of Opposition Business and chief prosecutor in the case of Gillard v the BER Christopher Pyne copped the worst of it. Pyne didn’t ask for a division on a vote that would have forced a judicial inquiry into the Government’s BER spending. A vote the Coalition lost. Awkward.
No matter, Pyne plans to introduce his bill into the Senate after a session with the choreographer on Thursday afternoon.
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There’s a rather odd immigration debate taking place in this election, characterised appropriately enough, by today’s immigration debate between Tony Burke and Scott Morrison.
Minister for (*sustainable) Population Tony Burke began his address talking about all those things that Labor have been stressing in the population debate: sustainability on region by region, arguing that the Coalition are all over the place with their policy and refusing to be pushed into naming a goal population figure: “A sustainable Australia involves a level of detail that will not be solved by finding a glib magic number,” Mr Bourke told the National Press Club today.
Then Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison got up and made his pitch on immigration: it involved talking about boat people almost the entire time. At one point exciting a group of student don John Howard masks and start screaming at Morrison.
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