When a Prime Minister returns early from holidays you can be sure that the primary reason is damage control. There is absolutely nothing that Julia Gillard personally can do to make the tragic situation on the shores of Christmas Island any better. Her task is purely and simply to try and ensure that yesterday’s deaths do not revive the issue of boat people in a way that seriously damages the standing of her government.

A good starting point for her reading this morning would be the latest WikiLeak cables published in the Fairfax press and in particular the advice given to her predecessor Kevin Rudd by Peter Khalil who was his foreign policy/national security adviser when in Opposition. As American diplomats reported back to Washington:

“In opposition, he advised Rudd to attack the amount of money spent on the Pacific Solution, but this was vetoed by senior party figures. Khalil predicted Rudd will ‘get hit’ by the public on this issue … he contended internal politics made it virtually impossible for Rudd to significantly strengthen border protection laws.”

16-12-2010 wikileaksboatpeople