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19 May 2017


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I take your point that whoever is Immigration Minister will cop a lot of flak and criticism Chris.

Morrison was in a similar position but he didn't come across as half as unfeeling as Dutton. I've got the distinct impression that Dutton actually enjoys what he is doing. That's a worry.

Contrast Abbott/Morrison/Dutton with Malcolm Fraser when the Vietnamese boat people arrived.

I fear that Phil has drawn too long a bow in his attack upon Peter Dutton.

Certainly, Dutton is a conservative from the right of the LNP, whose members cling to what I see as a reactionary and narrow world view. He is thus representative of a relatively small but vociferous minority of Australians, whose opinions have been given undue weight for far too long.

That said, it is neither fair nor reasonable to say that Dutton has "trashed Australia's international reputation as a humane nation".

The current and previous governments have each striven to implement a border control policy that allows Australia to choose who comes to live here, not an organised criminal conspiracy based in Indonesia.

The chosen methods have been characterised as cruel and inhumane by refugee advocates but it seems that the majority of Australians appear to have accepted that they are an unpleasant necessity to achieve effective border control.

In this context, it is noteworthy that the government's decision to increase the annual refugee intake, plus maintain an historically high influx of legal immigrants, the majority of whom come from non-English speaking backgrounds, continues to enjoy broad public support.

There was and is no lack of people clamouring to come to Australia. Those people do not seem deterred by what Phil and other critics characterise as an inhumane policy with respect to illegal immigrants.

It seems pretty clear that Australians are not opposed to refugees per se, just to their uncontrolled inflow.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the political leadership seems utterly incapable of crafting a coherent policy position in relation to the large scale illegal immigration now occurring.

They are neither overtly welcoming nor actively working to stem the flow of desperate people who, very understandably, want to leave the viper's nest that is the Middle East for what they hope will be a better future in Europe.

It is a hideous policy conundrum: accept large inflows of illegal immigrants and risk further destabilising an already highly febrile political and socio-economic environment or clamp down on what is indisputably people smuggling and risk condemnation for being inhumane.

They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Given their past sanctimonious posturing over Australia's policy decisions, I find it hard to be genuinely sympathetic.

Dutton's miserable task is to implement the government's border control policy, knowing that he will be subject to criticism, both fair and unfair, for doing so.

That he has done so in a sometimes apparently insensitive and ham-fisted way does him no credit. I share Phil's view that his performance hardly justifies speculation that he is a conservative PM in waiting.

However, it has to be understood that public policy decisions in this horribly difficult and contested area cannot be made on the basis of a warm inner glow. Hard headed pragmatism is required, so literally anyone taking on Dutton's portfolio is going to be in trouble straight away.

Phil and Peter. Re William Butler Yates, Slante

Excellent Phil. I've long thought Dutton was a Mutton (and we also have a Lambie). Not long past we had two Bishops and an Abbott in Parliament. Almost as good as when Abbott and Costello were on the front bench. (Never as funny as Laurel and Hardy though - except for their 'who's on first base' skit).

And by the way, for those of us who skipped literature class, the title to Phil's piece is from the famous poem by Yeats which deserves to be quoted in full.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Keith, every elected member of Australia's Parliament is a candidate for PM. Lets not be sheepish where mutton is a staple.
Denunciation of one who rams message into corralling action, is to void the viewing 1) of that herding near Lake Burley Griffin, all those sheepish at seeing humans in sufferance, and 2) of collectives of electors who facilitate fears more than valours.

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