I read online Friday morning that Australian Border Force were planning to conduct visa checks across the Melbourne CBD starting the same day and continuing over the weekend.
I read that the ABF would be “positioned at various locations around the CBD” and they would be, “speaking with any individual we cross paths with.” They warned Melburnians to “be aware of the conditions of your visa; if you commit visa fraud you should know it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught out.”
At first I thought it was a piece of satire but on closer view I realised it was wasn’t. What on earth did it mean? I don’t have a visa so if I went into the city should I take my passport with me? If I’m accosted and don’t have any identification on me, will I be apprehended?
The messages were very clear. The ABF were up for interrogating anyone on the streets. I decided I would stay home. Then later in the afternoon I learned that, in a ‘William Wallace’ type twitter call to arms, the concerned citizen response was swift and united.
A crowd of several hundred complete with banners, megaphones and plenty of spirit converged on Flinders Street Station. To borrow the now immortal words of one of our favourite sons, the late Ted Whitten, they ‘ stuck it up them’.
It happened, I read, because the Twittersphere went viral.
One can’t help feeling for the Victorian Police. A body the majority of Victorians view with the greatest of respect, was somehow blindsided, along with Yarra Trams, the Victorian Taxi Directorate and others, into playing ball with the Australian Border Force when the ABF had no real idea what they were doing.
As a result of the protest the entire exercise was cancelled and the blame game began. The MSM were in no doubt that the real culprit was Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Whether he was or wasn’t became irrelevant when the broader reality dawned.
Up until yesterday national security was the only issue the Coalition had in their kit bag that they hadn’t already stuffed up in a monumental way.
‘Border Farce’ as it quickly became known, has taken care of that. While it’s anybody’s guess when the next election will be held, one gets the feeling that the government is fast running out of winnable strategies to take to the people.
National security was going to be front and centre. Having now missed that bus, one would think that all their efforts will be concentrated on the Trade Unions.
No, hang on, they stuffed that up too. Whether Dyson Heydon stays or goes won’t matter. His personal query directed to Bill Shorten that he was “concerned about his credibility as a witness” has sort of rebounded, quite spectacularly.
They can’t campaign on health, education or infrastructure without making people laugh. Nor on our reputation overseas which has gone from sound and steady, to mockery and derision.
Science and Technology are two more no-go zones for fear of the gasps that would come from an incredulous public. They could have a crack at renewable energy technologies but that would be a bit hypocritical.
They will also have to be careful how they play the ‘economy’ card. If you juxtapose their record over the past two years with their rhetoric leading up to the 2013 election, it makes for a litany of confusion and contradictions reminiscent of Joh Bejelke Petersen’s days as Queensland premier in the 1970s.
When Joe Hockey said he would produce a budget surplus in his first year and each year thereafter, he unwittingly demonstrated how ill equipped he was for the job. We all know how that’s working for him now?
Both he and the Coalition are also seriously compromised on the ‘How are you going to pay for it’ wedge. Joe Hockey is presently unable to tell us how he would fund the intended tax cuts he so desperately wants before he reveals any other goodies he might be contemplating.
They can hardly campaign on their overall performance either because they haven’t done anything…oh wait..yes, they got rid of the carbon tax and the mining tax and stopped the boats.
In the meantime they doubled the budget deficit, added $1 billion to the national debt for each week they have been in government and broken so many promises that any promise they make this time around, will only be met with more fits of laughter.
If Tony Abbott is still at the helm when the election is called, it is difficult to see them mounting much of a campaign at all. If Scott Morrison is the new PM then the extreme right wing of the party will have shot themselves in the foot.
If it’s Malcolm Turnbull, there will be some hope but given everything else that has transpired, it is hard to see him restoring enough confidence back into their copper veins any more than Kevin Rudd did for Labor in 2013.
Turnbull’s performance with the cost blowout of the now second rate NBN has left him looking quite sheepish and vulnerable. He’s also a republican which won’t help. Then we have Julie Bishop who has never been seriously tested and, I think, would not cope with the pressure.
Their last resort would be to try and convince the more gullible within the electorate into thinking that no matter how bad they are, the alternative will be so much worse.
Given how bad they have been themselves, that would really stretch the limits of our imagination, wouldn’t it.