You can’t triangulate on race. It’s a lesson the Rudd government is learning all over again. There is no limit to how far a declared party of the Right will go, in search of a wedge: so the supposed "centre ground" simply moves further and further away from the comfort zone of a government still aspiring to hold together a "progressive" base of support.

Hence, the synthetic outrage of the coalition, over the arrival by boat of people seeking asylum from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, appears on the "national security" section of the Liberal Party website. It’s not enough, apparently, to portray them as the "bludgers" and "queue jumpers" of yore: they must now be construed as a threat.