In his guest post, Tad Tietze observed of Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor’s fact free rhetoric on 457 visas:
…there is no publicly available evidence that this mass rorting is actually happening.
O’Connor, you might recall, made a lot of hyperbolic claims about visa rorts, accompanied by hyperbolic rhetoric about numbers of international workers purportedly exceeding the population of Wollongong. He was criticised widely for failing to substantiate any of the claims on which he claimed to rely.
The Minister has now come clean. Sort of. The figure he’s been bandying around is a “forecast”:
”Well, I’m making a forecast. I’m making a forecast like others have made forecasts. The difference is I seem to be being challenged – fine,” he said.
”My point is this: There are transgressions, there [are] more than a few, they’re more than negligible. I’ve sought to estimate what I think is the appropriate number.
”We don’t have an exact, precise figure. That’s not possible under the current arrangements, but it is significant and I make no apology [for] fixing a scheme that has problems.”
This really is a disgrace.
Almost a month ago, I commented on how wonk language was used to disguise racist policy. Now it looks like any reference to fact is considered optional.
There is no doubt in my mind that this appalling race to the bottom is a consequence of the leadership decisions that the Labor Party has made, among other factors. It’s completely puzzling as an election winning strategy, but no doubt it’s not one. It’s a desperate scramble to “save the furniture”, playing to the imagined prejudice that is encapsulated by the “Lindsay test”.
The truth is, of course, that Labor has never won an election on race-baiting.
In another post in April, I referred to Lindy Edwards’ analysis of the differences between the political/philosophical positions represented by Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd’s contrasting styles of leadership. Edwards wrote:
This is not just personality politics. This is big questions about what it means to represent people, what social justice looks like, and how it can be best achieved in the modern world.
This is not the only question of philosophy being contested. Gillard has also staunchly pushed a socially conservative view on most of the liberation movement issues.
Her stances on boat people, 457 visas and gay marriage have been particularly disappointing to many progressives. People have also, I think rightly, detected that she thinks jobs are more important than climate change.
On these issues, Gillard is quite different to Rudd. Rudd’s signature achievements were big liberation movement issues, such as the apology to the stolen generations, softening the line on refugees, signing the Kyoto Protocol, and his advocacy for action on climate change.
It simply astonishes me that some progressive folks can’t see that ideology is at stake in Julia Gillard’s troubled ascendancy. We are living through the “lurch to the right” Kevin Rudd warned of the night before he lost the leadership.
Chris Bowen must be very pleased not to be Immigration Minister any more. Despite the appalling Malaysia Solution, something no doubt imposed on him, he was strong in championing multiculturalism and human rights as the fundamentals of immigration policy. We don’t see that from Brendan O’Connor, who it must be said, is one of Julia Gillard’s closest lieutenants of longest standing. What we see is a contempt for truth and a willingness to articulate inflammatory and thinly veiled racist rubbish at the drop of a hat.
Chris Bowen, of course, resigned as a minister because of his support for Kevin Rudd.
No doubt, some will accuse me of sour grapes, and of not Uniting Behind the Leader. All I will say in response is that we are now seeing what a cabinet purged of any residual Ruddism looks like. Perhaps some think all this disgraceful stuff is some regrettable blip. I don’t. I think it’s core policy for the cynical, manipulative and politically stupid crew of acolytes, “faction leaders” and right wing reactionaries now running the federal Labor show.