Tony Abbott unveiled the Coalition’s immigration policy this week: a return to the Howard-era “Pacific Solution”, complete with off-shore processing and Temporary Protection Visas, plus a new policy that would see asylum seekers forced to find work or lose access to welfare benefits.
In yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail, Bernard Keane argued that his plans are more about image than outcomes:
The return of the Pacific Solution continues the C0alition’s obsession with preventing the ‘processing’ of asylum seeker claims on mainland Australia, despite it having no impact on the process of determining whether a claim for asylum is valid, and no impact on the legal rights of applicants.
But one thing Abbott hasn’t managed to revive from his predecessor’s days is the party discipline and unified front Howard generally managed to keep. Signs of mutiny are already afoot, with moderate Liberals immediately and publicly slamming the plan.
But will voters be more willing to hop on-board Cap’n Tony’s good ship Border Control? Or is the party sailing into dangerous waters with its ongoing drift to the right?
Here’s how the press pundits are calling it today:
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Editorial: Channeling John Howard on boats
The Coalition may be on a vote-winner by going back to square one on asylum-seekers.
Sydney Morning Herald
Editorial: Abbott rescues Pacific solution
pure populism … a symbolic sacrifice on the altar of xenophobia.
Jacqueline Maley: Ghosts of Christmas Island past return to centre stage
It was like they were putting the border protection band back together. Peter Reith was probably waiting in the Bluesmobile out back.
Michelle Grattan: A cynical and depressing echo of the Howard years
… a slap in the face not only for the small-l liberals in his party, but in the community as well.
Philip Hudson: Tony Abbott smells votes on boats
The majority of the party backs Abbott on this one.