The Howard Government has often depended on the kindness of shipping.
There was the whole Tampa-fuelled “we decide who comes into this country and the circumstances in which they come” election win in 2001.
Now there’s another ship coming to town ahead of this year’s poll: Sea Patrol, Channel Nine’s latest drama.
VOICEOVER: The oceans are a mysterious frontier. They can trigger our deepest fears, divide our countries and tempt some to take countless risks. This is the story of one patrol boat, its 24 crew, and its duty to protect one of the longest and most vulnerable coastlines on earth …
“Do you think it’s a terrorist threat, some kind of massive poisoning?” “Certainly looks that way.” … “Booby trap, could be a bomb!” … “These people are running conflict diamonds from West Africa to fund terror groups in our region.”
“You can imagine the appeal” of the show, wrote an acting insider in Crikey, having auditioned for the show last year; “Border Security meets Officer and A Gentlemen meets The Force meets Getaway. It ticks all the boxes for an ageing, frightened nation, worried about all those people to the north who steal our fish and then want to live here.”
Forget that anti-AWA scene in McLeod’s Daughters, 13 episodes of border fear-mongering could blow it out of the water. Even so, there’s another vessel bound for Australia in September that’s set to shake up the Government: the environmental mothership, Al Gore.