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 Shorten Running Scared on Asylim Seekers
 Posted: May 31 2018, 04:30 PM

Dentus Chookus

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Opinion: Bill Shorten is running scared on asylum seeker policy

Paul MurrayThe West Australian
Wednesday, 30 May 2018 2:00AM

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Picture: Illustration: Don Lindsay

My maternal grandfather — who was partial to a cold drink on a warm day — used to have a humorous saying about teetotallers.

“You can’t trust a man who can’t trust himself with a drink,” he’d declare, presumably only half-joking.

Trust is a funny thing. Once it’s lost, it’s often impossible to win back.

Which is why Bill Shorten is running scared on asylum seeker policy again.

That’s because big sections of his party are addicted to opening the floodgates to the flow of people trying to enter Australia unlawfully with the help of people smugglers.

Such an inconvenient truth could get in the way of Shorten’s plans to win government if it were exposed.

And now Shorten and some of his union mates can’t even trust the Labor Party to debate what would happen to refugee policy if the Turnbull Government loses the Federal election.

With the super Saturday of Federal by-elections looming, the Victorian Labor Party held its annual conference at the weekend.

One of the motions listed for debate proposed that Labor “close the offshore detention centres, transit centres and other camps on Manus and Nauru within the first 90 days” of a Shorten government.

This debate was being keenly anticipated by the Left which was expecting a stellar performance from its newest MP, former ACTU head Ged Kearney, who saved the seat of Batman from the Greens in March.

But just before the arguments were about to be advanced, two unions from either end of Labor’s factional spectrum — the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union from the Left and Shorten’s own Australian Workers Union from the Right — joined their numbers to shut it down.

“The procedural move to close the State conference early by the industrial Left has been interpreted as protection of Bill Shorten’s position by the CFMMEU, and indicates that any major change to the party’s platform on refugees at the national conference is unlikely,” the Guardian reported.

So why should voters trust a man who can’t trust his party with a debate on refugee policy?

We know the answer to that because we’ve been there before. We know what happens when Labor scraps coalition asylum seeker policies that have successfully ended the flow of boats and hundreds of deaths at sea.

Who can forget another spear thrower for the Left, former immigration minister Chris Evans, describing his axing of the Howard government’s so-called Pacific Solution — the sending of illegal entrant asylum seekers to Nauru — as “the proudest moment in my political career”.

Who can forget Kevin Rudd during the 2007 election campaign promising to keep Howard’s “stop the boats” policies? Who can forget that there was no asylum seeker child in detention when the coalition lost office?

Who can forget that Julia Gillard resumed the Pacific Solution in 2012 after toppling Rudd and having to confront the massive armada of boats heading to Australia because the people smugglers worked out we were a soft touch again.

And who can forget Rudd, after toppling Gillard in 2013, announcing that “asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”.

No wonder Shorten told the Victorian conference that Labor would continue to stop the boats. He was just following in the footsteps of Rudd and Gillard.

And no wonder no one believes him. We’ve seen it all before.

It is not the first time the construction union has saved Shorten’s bacon on asylum seeker policy. It pulled the same trick at the 2015 national conference in a move which is seen as the start of the Opposition Leader’s indebtedness to the militant industrial group.

Kearney, who promised in her maiden speech last week to change Labor’s policy and end offshore detention, was denied her opportunity at the weekend conference.

But on Monday night, she went on the ABC’s Q&A, which discussed the issue, and aimed all of her guns at the coalition’s policies, disingenuously managing to avoid the weekend’s shabby performance.

Host Tony Jones also did not think the bastardry of the day before was newsworthy enough to raise, even when Liberal senator Jim Molan mentioned it.

Avoidance is now becoming Labor’s policy in dealing with its policy on asylum seekers.

Just last week Labor was caught out doctoring the transcript of an interview NSW frontbencher Linda Burney gave Sky News’ David Speers which veered into uncomfortable territory on the policy.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton accused Labor of changing Burney’s words because it did not want them in a written record for journalists to research.

“The altered transcript substantially changed Ms Burney’s argument in favour of a time limit to get people off Manus and Nauru, and completely excluded criticisms of the Government’s current policy,” The Australian reported.

It followed another excruciating Speers interview on May 9 with Fremantle MP Josh Wilson about the by-election he will soon face after the High Court found he was not a citizen when he stood in 2016.

Speers tried many different angles to expose Wilson’s true position on asylum seekers — to no avail. Wilson refused to answer straight questions about whether he believed those being held on Nauru and Manus Island should come to Australia.

It would have been interesting to see Speers set loose on Labor’s Patrick Gorman, the former Rudd insider from those flip-flop asylum seeker policy years, who is now standing for Perth at the by-elections.

That is unlikely given the Liberals’ gutless approach to the contest.

However, it should make interesting grist for the mill for the Greens who are keen to expose Labor’s duplicity on what is a line-in-the-sand issue for the Left.

Labor is purportedly furious that the super Saturday by-elections conflict with its scheduled national conference, which will now be moved to a date after the polls.

It should be relieved. But it can’t escape its history on asylum seekers whenever the day of reckoning arrives.

Paul Murray raises a number of interesting points about Labor's policy making on a sensitive issue. The ALP isn't game to openly debate the issue and the utterings of Rudd, Gillard and now Shorten don't reflect those of many of the Left rank and file.

“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” - John Wooden
 Posted: May 31 2018, 05:57 PM


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This time the left hand must have known what the right was doing. There is a lot of lip service paid to what should be done with the people in the camps, but is there really the will to bring them to Australia, or to NZ where there is an easy way of getting to Australia? Do they stick to the word, or do they give in and “spoil the child”? It is like dealing with children, state the rule, state the consequence and stick with it. IMHO of course.
 Posted: May 31 2018, 06:11 PM

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Opinion:"Bill Shorten is running scared on empty as usual".

Living In An Elected Dictatorship
Flin's opinions and comments reflect his perception of the facts and not necessarily reality
 Posted: May 31 2018, 06:29 PM

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No surprises at all there, perhaps especially that the sneering, biased lefty Tony Jones did not think the bastardry of the day before was newsworthy enough to raise, even when Liberal senator Jim Molan mentioned it.

Everybody is Willing:
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