Jul 22, 2013

The Rudd Solution passes political test, but can it pass policy test?

Kevin Rudd's PNG agreement on asylum seekers has so far worked politically, but whether it stops boat arrivals will become clearer soon. Will this pass the policy test?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The first test of Kevin Rudd’s avowed “hardline” asylum seeker stance (for which he “made no apologies”, in case anyone was wondering if he was tempted to do so) was held on Friday evening, and it passed with flying colours. The Seven and Nine networks’ Sydney news bulletins — total local audience just under 700,000 — delivered the “no asylum seekers arriving by boat will be settled in Australia” message. Nine carried Greens Senators Christine Milne and Sarah Hanson-Young criticising the plan. Exactly what Labor would have wanted. Asylum seekers rioting on Nauru wouldn’t have hurt either.


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27 thoughts on “The Rudd Solution passes political test, but can it pass policy test?

  1. Xoanon

    No idea why you suggest that compulsory preferential voting might be a problem. It allows Greens voters to cast votes which either actually elect Greens MHRs and Senators, or failing that help choose which other party will be able to form government – and of course most Greens voters would prefer the ALP in government over the Coalition.

    It’s only a possible problem for parties trying to squeeze deals from How to Vote cards. Easy solution: ban such cards, and allow voters to preference the individual party lists above the line on the Senate paper.

  2. Gavin Moodie

    I don’t think asylum seekers arriving by boat is a problem for Australia. But maybe the Rudd solution would be better than the Coalition’s next move, which seems to be withdrawing from the Refugee Convention.

    Optional preferential voting, in Queensland for example, tends to turn the electoral system into first past the post, which may or may not be problematic depending on one’s view.

  3. Keith1

    “Such straitjacketing is the great gift of compulsory voting and compulsory preferential voting for the major parties, albeit one on which compulsory voting advocates are peculiarly silent.” I agree with Xoanon. What’s the problem? Compulsory voting, including compulsory preferential voting, makes it harder for the individual to leave the decision up to the rest of society without conscious thought. It is no surprise that most people, confronted by that conscious decision, decide to have a say (i.e. register a valid vote). Arguments for optional voting depend on the (often unstated) view that some votes, and some voters, are more valuable than others. I’d rather citizens attended the polling booth than stay away, even if some of them toss a coin. How they make their decision is, in the end, their (democratic) business.

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    You are revolting Bernard, you reduce everything to same ignorant rant as Andrew Bolt and think you are a clever clogs.

    Too much Canberra kool aide and not one thought for human beings or law.

    We will not stop anyone from dying, 20,000 kids a day are dying of starvation and we cut foreign aid to make the die a bit quicker.

    Crikey has gone the way of Fairfax and become a redundant dodo.

  5. shepherdmarilyn

    The opposition will not withdraw from the convention, but Rudd has already effectively decided we will.

  6. mikeb

    I expect true asylum seekers won’t be deterred because they will presumably end up and supported in a safe environment. Economic refugees will certainly be disappointed so it will be interesting to see what does happen with boat arrival numbers once the message crosses into Indonesia & surrounds.

  7. Bo Gainsbourg

    The fig leaf Labor is using to cover this lurch is that of avoiding the tragedy of the drownings we have seen. Then accusing anyone who disagrees of being unrealistic and lacking compassion (read the Greens). Never mind that Labor got to this policy point b/c of focus groups, polling and the race to the bottom rather than concern for refugees, or that there is no conceivable way the response would be the same should the refugees be ‘white’. As suggested this morning on AM by a professor of law, different visa arrangements and processing of refugees in Indonesia has at least as good a chance of avoiding drownings as this policy. The fact that it has never been raised, and only crueler treatment of refugees has been posited, tells you everything. The major parties should spare us the false claims that its compassion driving this response.

  8. Gavin Moodie

    Indeed, the piece on Radio National’s Breakfast program on 22 July was excellent. It was by James C Hathaway, the James E and Sarah A Degan Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, as well as Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Refugee Law at the University of Amsterdam and Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne Law School.

    James Bourne’s report of the interview ‘PNG asylum deal could be in breach of UN convention’ is on Radio National’s web site.

  9. Bronwyn

    I’m glad to see some analysis of this as a policy rather than a vote-winner, but I’m still not sure this goes far enough.

    If we suspend disbelief for a minute and accept that the policy intention is to prevent deaths at sea, then I suppose it’s arguable that – all other things being equal – fewer boats in the next few weeks will be a measure of whether the policy “works”, but it can never be a “success” if that outcome could be achieved in other, better, ways.

    Still nothing will be done more address the reasons people feel the need to risk their lives at sea – the underlying assumption continuing to be that people simply want to get to Australia at all costs. Nothing will be done to improve the prospect for refugees to be resettled through the alleged “proper channels” (a really ridiculous term in the context of people fleeing war and persecution ). Nothing will be done to address he problem of refugees sitting for years in Indonesia awaiting resettlement. And what will happen to the West Papuans already seeking refuge in PNG?

    I think the only lives this will save is the political lives of some politicians.

  10. shepherdmarilyn

    Why on earth we couldn’t simply let refugees stuck in limbo in Indonesia come here beats me, why do we have to go into human trafficking bullshit.

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