Creating a political narrative doesn’t mean that you have to be consistent with your previous political narratives. There’s no problem with, for example, the Liberals abandoning their view that “the invisible hand of the market” is the only way to go and announcing that, when it comes to energy prices, they’re prepared to intervene and subsidise and take big sticks to companies that have the temerity to put profits before people. Greed, it seems, is not good when it threatens you electorally. No, you can flip-flop all around the ideological dartboard when it suits you. Both Liberal and Labor have done this, while the National Party have made it a fundamental tenet to be anti-socialist except when it comes to primary industry.
However, it’s usually pretty important to ensure that your narrative is consistent with itself. Yes, Andrew Bolt and his fellow travellers can squawk about dangerous people being out on bail and call for tougher sentences when it comes to minorities, but George Pell being sentenced is a travesty. While some are suggesting that the jury is still out on Pell because we need to wait on his appeal, I’d like to point out that the jury is not still out. The jury has made its decision and if that decision is overturned on some point of law, it doesn’t alter the fact that, at the time of writing, Pell is a convicted criminal.
When it comes to the whole asylum seeker issue, the Coalition have flipped between them being illegal queue-jumpers who don’t deserve any consideration of such nebulous things as human right, to arguing that it’s really out of concern for those who drown at sea that we need to lock people up indefinitely. This not-so-subtle change happened over years and if you weren’t paying attention, you may have missed it changing.
Lately, though, the Liberals seem to have either lost their talking points sheet or issuing a new one every day. We were told that life on Manus and Nauru was like a big holiday resort and that conditions there were better than these people had a right to expect. However, it quickly became a source of concern that there were children in detention and that it was a priority to remove them. As for removing anyone who wasn’t a child, just because doctors thought that they were ill, well, that was outrageous because these are dangerous people and we would need to check them out thoroughly before we let them into an Australian hospital. We knew that they were pretty much okay when Turnbull was telling Trump that they were, but they’ve since become dangerous criminals. Probably because of refugee advocate groups. But still, we need to spend billions of dollars on them in order to prevent people like them making the risky journey and drowning at sea.
By this stage, I’m a little confused because part of me thinks we should be letting the bastards drown, while another part thinks we should be sinking the boats as a deterrent in a totally caring and compassionate way to save the lives of those who are yet to attempt the risky sea journey.
Now I guess most of you have heard something about Peter Dutton’s assertion that thanks to the Medivac bill, these people will be pushing Australians off the waiting list for medical treatment. Ok, I can sort of see how this scare campaign…
Oh, I guess I shouldn’t be calling it a scare campaign. That sort of thing is what Labor does. Remember Malcolm on election night telling us that he was going to refer the Opposition to the AFP for fraud over their Mediscare tactics… Whatever happened to that? Did Turnbull drop it for fear that if they started charging politicians for fraud over what they’d said, hardly any of his front bench would be there for the next election? Actually, come to think of it hardly any of his front bench are there for the next election – including him! No, I shouldn’t call it a “scare campaign”, Let’s say, we call it a “government information campaign” like the one about how they’re making the tax system fairer. Yes, I think we’ll see lots and lots of such ads over the coming weeks… Anyway…
I can see how this sort of “government information” campaign might concern Nana who’s waiting for her hip replacement… particularly now that she may no longer get her forty thousand in franking credits and will have to give up her private health insurance. There is a sort of logic to this particular part of the scare campaign… whoops, government information campaign. Of course, when Petey added that we’ll also have people kicked out of public housing that I really had to wonder if the man had lost more than his hair over the past couple of years. Why on earth would any government do that? Can you believe that it would not be in every tabloid that Mr and Mrs Ordinary, with their Australian kids, were made homeless so that some foreign queue-jumper could move in? Still, even suggesting this could make a consistent narrative by itself. Note, I said “consistent”, not a “convincing” one. Yes, you can put forward a narrative that Labor care more about these evil people than they do about you. At least you can if you hope that people have forgotten that you were saying earlier in the week that Labor were the ones who were responsible for locking up thousands of children and it’s only thanks to the compassion of the current government that these kids are free.
Then, of course, we have the slight problem of the re-opening of the Christmas Island detention centre. According to the Liberals, that’s where any sick refugees will be going – unless they’re too “dangerous” in which case, apparently, we leave them to die a slow death on Manus or Nauru. Now, if Nana was planning to go to Christmas Island to get her hip done, then she’s got an even looser grip on reality than our Minister for Border Distraction. Similarly, I don’t believe that many people are expecting public housing to set them up on Christmas Island.
But hey, according to Mr Dutton, not only will these people be placed ahead of good, loyal Australians, but Nana and Mr and Mrs Ordinary will be “kicked off the waiting list”. You don’t just get pushed lower down, you get removed.
Asylum seeker policy has been tying Labor in knots for years but mainly because any deviation from Liberal policy has been portrayed as weakness on borders and there’s been a battle between the pragmatism of winning elections and the morality of using vulnerable people to make political mileage. While this has worked well for Coalition in the past, it may not work in the future for two reasons. First, it was fine to lock people up temporarily for their “jumping the queue”, but after five years people were starting wonder just how long the so-called queue was. The Liberals no longer have a coherent narrative. It’s fine to say that “We will decide…” etc. However, currently we asked to believe that they’ve lost control of the borders thanks to Labor and all these terrible things are likely to happen, but they’re still in control of the borders and they won’t be letting these things happen. We’re being asked to believe simultaneously that the Medivac bill has caused enormous problems but the adults are still in charge and our borders are safe. A sort of Schrodinger’s Cat-type arrangement where we’re both in danger and not in danger.
I’m looking forward to hearing Mr Dutton’s thoughts (if you’ll pardon the oxymoron), in the coming days. Which following proclamations from Il Dunce will be next?
- Asylum seekers to be given your job even if they have no qualifications.
- Asylum seekers to be given free Maserati and allowed to drive without a licence
- Bill Shorten to introduce quotas to ensure that only Asylum seekers can be elected to Parliament
- Asylum seekers to be given priority for a place on “Married At First Sight”
- John Howard will be required to write character references for every single asylum seeker
- Sharia Law to replace all existing school rules.
- Laws giving women equal rights will be enacted if Shorten is elected.
Ok, that last one has sort of already happened, but I’m not sure that the current federal government is aware of it, so they may try to use it as a scare campaign.
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