It’s become increasingly clear that the High Court’s decision yesterday does more than block the ‘Malaysian Solution’. It also has the effect of radically challenging the validity and viability of a range of offshoring approaches to asylum seekers, both tried and mooted.
Politically, of course, as Bernard Keane observes today, the impact of the decision really is to drive another nail into the Gillard government’s coffin.
It is very puzzling that, given that Ministers would no doubt have been supplied with excellent advice from the Commonwealth Solicitor-General, this result wasn’t foreseen. It really does point up the desperation and short term media cycle driven horizons which have bedevilled the Gillard government, ironically to a degree greater than they bedevilled the Rudd government. The incompetence narrative seems to reflect truth.
We are not going to see a legislative fix to the issues identified by the Court, because The Greens, independents and Coalition, for very different reasons, will not support one. And nor should one be advanced.
In commenting on the ramifications of the Court’s decision at Troppo, Ken Parish writes:
The Gillard government should now accept the inevitability of its forthcoming election defeat and concentrate on putting in place asylum seeker processes that are as sound as possible from a policy (rather than short term populist) perspective. As I’ve argued previously, a policy based on community accommodation, rather than mandatory detention, of asylum seekers once initial health and security clearances have been passed, is clearly preferable from a policy viewpoint. It will almost certainly result in a measurable upsurge in arrival numbers, but that is unlikely to result in total numbers that Australia will be unable effectively to absorb.
I could not agree more.
When I was discussing the Centre for Policy Development’s paper, Breaking the stalemate on asylum seekers and refugees, I wrote:
It would not be too hard to argue for a completely different path. It would take courage. But Labor has very little to lose, and potentially a lot to gain, by doing the right thing.
It is very hard to see a path for the Gillard government to be re-elected. But outcomes are not pre-determined. If Ministers have not read the CPD Report, they should be doing just that as a matter of immediate pragmatic political priority.
If the ALP is to lose anyway, the paradox might be that by regaining its soul, it might just avoid its fate. If not, then it might just provide a path by which Labor could return to opposition demonstrating that it actually stands for something.
It really should be very clear now that playing defence on a turf shaped by its political opponents and the media is absolutely and fatally counter-productive.