A tale in two headlines. The Australian this morning tells how we are about to send them back.

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In Britain this morning The Independent reports what happen when they arrive home:

5-07-2010 independentonasylumseekers

Ticking things off her little list to frustrate an Opposition. The cartoonist on page one of The Australian on Saturday morning said it all really. There’s Julia Gillard ticking off the first item on her little list.

1. Appease billionaires. Tick

One down, she says.

2. Appease xenophobes

3. Appease climate sceptics

The Melbourne Herald Sun had the same list in a slightly kinder fashion:

3-07-2010heraldsungillardchecklist

The “to do” list summarises what is always a problem for an Opposition. Be too successful too early in attacking a government and the government just changes its policy to be the same as yours. Tony Abbott was even so successful in denting Kevin Rudd’s popularity that Labor changed Prime Ministers. Now Julia Gillard is setting about changing the things that led to that unpopularity. There’s clearly nothing fair about the game of politics.

There once was a time. It was harsh judgment delivered back in 2003 by the now-PM at the Sydney Institute but a percipient one.

“Populist right-wing ressentiment is so 20th century.

It has been replaced by a tone of triumphalism.

Since the beginning of this year Les Murray, Christopher Pearson and others have been acknowledging that they’re now on top. The paradigm has changed. They’re the new orthodoxy.

It’s time for those who oppose Howard’s agenda to admit that he and his helpers have succeeded spectacularly.

The nation is in the grip of a neo-conservative political correctness that is out of touch with the values of the majority of the Australian people.

It’s a political correctness that has elevated values that most Australians don’t share: individual selfishness and a strange envy of the less fortunate because they are receiving Government assistance.

It’s a political correctness that has produced greater divisions in our society between the haves and the have-nots, indigenous and non-indigenous, new migrants and old.

And it is a political correctness that puts winning before all else, where ethics, integrity and values like equality and looking after others less fortunate don’t rate.

John Howard has won his culture war, for now.”

And as Julia Gillard prepares her review of asylum seeker policy that abandons the “ethics, integrity and values like equality and looking after others less fortunate” that she spoke of back then, she confirms that the victory has survived a change of government.

The ugliest Australian. Mel Gibson would surely win the title hands down. His latest atrocity, reported in The Independent as ‘Caught on tape: Mel Gibson race rant to girlfriend‘, includes “an outburst which featured a racial epithet that has inspired the most controversy. You look like a f-cking pig in heat,’ he apparently told Ms Grigoerieva, 40. ‘If you get r-ped by a pack of n-ggers, it will be your fault.'”

But then again, in a land where the Prime Minister tells us not to give in to political correctness …

Double-dip makes the headlines. The dreaded double-dip word is being seen with increasing frequency in the world’s media as economists debate whether the global financial crisis really is over or merely taking a rest. Google trends shows the pattern.

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In the United States and Europe the politicians are getting conflicting advice as to the best course of action, as the Washington Post explained at the weekend.

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Teens not looking for jobs pushes down US unemployment rate. A wonderful example of that lies, damned lies and statistics saying from the US employment figures released at the weekend. Under the heading ‘Fewest Teen Jobs added in June since 1951’, the Calculated Risk website noted:

“Teens not looking for jobs — because the job market is so bad — actually helped push down the unemployment rate!”

How can this be you ask? Well it was all to do with the participation rate. June is normally the month when teenagers enter the workforce in the greatest number. This year, with unemployment at a very high level, many chose not to bother even trying to find a job which resulted in 256,000 teenagers “leaving” the workforce.

Peter Fray

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