Trying to second-guess a collective public mood based on opinion polls is a fraught business. But let's give it a go anyway ...
Take the polling released today
-- exclusive to Crikey
-- from Essential Research on the asylum seeker issue. To advocates of a more humane approach, the result is shattering: a quarter of the 1000-plus voters polled believe the federal government's approach is "too soft". Combine that with the group who believe current policy is "the right approach" (35%), and that's 60% of the Australian public who back the policy settings.
Why? Well, take a look at the attitudes to those seeking asylum. Asked which of four views best represented their own, the most common response was: "Asylum seekers arriving by boat should be allowed to stay in Australia if they are found to be genuine refugees." But then asked whether they thought most asylum seekers were genuine refugees, almost half said they weren't.
So is it any surprise they support tougher enforcement of our borders?
The opinion -- apparently popular -- that those seeking asylum are, in the main, opportunistic economic migrants rather than humanitarian refugees is simply not true. The vast majority of claims processed are stamped "refugee".
The misinformation campaign has been devastatingly successful. And it's shaping public opinion -- and public policy -- like never before.