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Monday, September 5, 2011

Asylum Seeker Bipartisan Solution?

There is talk of a bipartisan plan to tackle the asylum seeker problem but can Tony Abbott be trusted? The 330 asylum seekers who were being sent to Malaysia, will now be processed in Australia. Yesterday Mr Bowen said the Government was considering changing the Migration Act after being advised by the High Court, that along with Malaysia, Nauru and Manus Island were also untenable. "Obviously it will take some time, even if we went down the legislation road, that would take time to get through the Parliament. It's necessary for us to process these people - that's the right thing to do and that's what we'll be doing" he said.

Tony Abbott said he was willing to back changes to the Migration Act as long as the Government re-opened John Howard's detention centre of Nauru. "If you want to resurrect something out of this mess, if you want to have something that is credible border protection policy, we'll work with you" he said.

The Government have not responded to this offer but say it will consider all options carefully. I would wager that hell would have to freeze over before the Labor Party cuts a deal with the Liberals, but stranger things have happened and a bipartisan approach sounds sensible.

Coalition Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the offer came with "no strings". "It comes in good faith" he said "Of course we would like them to embrace Temporary Protection Visas. We think it is good policy but it is not a condition."

Federal Labor Cabinet meets today and the Left has made it clear to Julia Gillard that sending asylum seekers to Nauru is not an option and they will not be moved to change their minds. They want to scrap offshore processing altogether and so do the Greens.

So is Tony Abbott sincere in wanting to solve our overwhelming asylum seeker problem? Independent Tony Windsor said "It is highly unlikely that Tony Abbott would offer anything to a Labor side but apparently he has" he said "That may be about political wedge more than genuine compassion and trying to work with the government of the day to help the Prime Minister out of a particular issue."

Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson said some months ago that Labor would "run off a cliff" with Julia Gillard rather than have Kevin Rudd back as leader and it looks like he's right. When there was doubt about her leadership, every one of the PM's ministers said that she had their full support and made it pretty clear there would be no challenge to her leadership.

Richo thinks the government should ignore the advice from the solicitor-general and send asylum seekers to Nauru using the Coalition to get the legislation passed. This would enrage the Greens, he said.