Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Australia returns to racism

One of the great crimes of the Howard government in Australia was the "Pacific solution": the rendering of refugees to desolate places like Nauru and PNG, where they could be kept out of sight and out of mind of racist Australian voters (and, more importantly, away from Australian courts and their scrutiny of both detention conditions and the processing of claims). One of the great achievements of Kevin Rudd in his time as Prime Minister was to end it. But now, Julia Gillard has signalled a return to that failed, unlawful policy:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has phoned the President of Nauru and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to formally request re-opening twin asylum-seeker processing centres on both the Pacific island nations.

Ms Gillard phoned Nauru's president Sprent Dabwido around 9.30am and followed up shortly with a call to PNG’s new prime minister Peter ONeill to request to reinstate the Manus Island facility last used under the Howard Government’s Pacific Solution.

According to Nauruan government spokesman Rod Henshaw, Mr Dabwido told Ms Gillard Nauru would be happy to assist Australia.

Its nice to know where the ALP really stands on this: on the side of racists and against international law. And then they wonder why their vote is being eaten by the Greens...

Meanwhile, I'm now worrying when we're going to have a "me too" from John Key. He's shown a willingness to engage in Howard-style politics and refugee-bashing as a distraction from his unpopular economic policies; will he do the same again now that asset sales are coming to a crunch?