Great speech, Prime Minister Gillard.

You surprised us by calling out everyone on their tired old lines. The speech was nuanced, and considered, and couched in positive language.

Yes! Let’s ban the term dog whistle. Same goes for queue. And jumping. And rednecks and illegals and racists and boat people, for that matter. Let’s ban any correlation between population growth and asylum seekers. Why? Because it’s boring. More importantly, it’s based on factually incorrect assertions.

“We are much better than this,” said Gillard this morning. We concur.

But we’re not convinced.

This issue goes beyond a change in tone. It goes beyond impressive sounding negotiations, this time with the likes of East Timor’s Jose Ramos Horta and New Zealand’s John Key. Your pledge to treat asylum seekers humanely, coupled with a promise to understand the public’s fears, doesn’t disguise the bare bones of this proposed policy.

Because the policy, just like the tired language that you rightly rejected, is based on false assertions.

You rejected the Pacific Solution.Then announced the possibility of an offshore processing centre in East Timor. You promised not to play politics with the issue, but then stared directly down the camera to speak to asylum seekers in Sri Lanka to warn them not to make the journey. As if the message was directed at them, and not those crucial marginal voters nodding approvingly in western Sydney.

We agree with you, Prime Minister — we won’t be using the same tired old language on this issue. But we’ll be devoting every creative adjective available to call you out on your border protection plan.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey