If you read the whole transcript of the Turnbull/Trump phone call, your head will explode and you’ll have your brain replaced by a brain that can’t remember things.
I know this because I read the whole thing and now my brain can’t remember things. I know my brain can’t remember things because it’s very, very confused about a number of things that Turnbull said and they contradict the things that Turnbull and his band of merry men have assured us on a number of occasions.
For a start, we were told categorically that taking all those people from Central America was nothing to do with the US decision to agree to take some people from Manus and Nauru. Or rather, their decision to “vet” them, because, as our Prime Minister told Mr Trump the deal that isn’t a deal “does not require you to take 2,000 people. It does not require you to take any. It requires, in return, for us to do a number of things for the United States – this is a big deal, I think we should respect deals.”
(Of course, some you may be reading this and wondering why I keep referring to Malcolm as “the Prime Minister”. That’s because at the time of writing he still holds that position. Yes, I know it’s a largely ceremonial position like the Governor-General and it’s not really a position of power because it doesn’t have the job security of say a casual worker at a call centre, but, until the Conservative faction of the Liberal party decide that Malcolm has gone too far by suggesting that he might actually consider doing something without raising his hand and politely waiting for permission and that it’s time to see if he’ll make good on his threat and leave Parliament if they tell him that they’ve let him have a good play and it’s time for the adults to take over.)
The second thing that’s confusing about the alleged transcript between our alleged PM and the T-Rump is his admission that these are good people who haven’t done anything wrong. Haven’t we been told over and over again that they’re lawbreakers and that they attempted to come to Australia “illegally”. So that makes it doubly confusing when Turnbull tells Trump that the people on Nauru and Manus are “economic refugees”. If this is true, then it means that we’ve been responsible for holding people who should have been returned to their homeland. While genuine refugees have the right to apply for asylum and aren’t breaking the law, Turnbull seems to be arguing that these people aren’t in that category. This seems to suggest that rather than having a hard-line position, they’re being very generous in providing accomodation to non-genuine refugees. And medical treatment. Ok, not much medical treatment. But given their position that taxpaying Australians should pay something towards their medical costs, it does seem a bit difficult to reconcile their different positions on the subject…
There are quite a few other things in the transcript that make the whole thing sound like a slick salesman trying to sell a confused old man something that he doesn’t need, but I didn’t find it rather worrying when Turnbull offered to take whoever Trump wanted to send. I half expected Trump to say that he had a few hundred thousand Mexican criminals and to read that Malcolm had said, “Sure Buddy, just so long as you don’t send them by boat!”
Of course it would be wrong to expect Turnbull to be anything but confused. He leads a party which is constantly telling us that governments should get out of people’s lives and that too much regulation is the root of all our evils. However, this didn’t stop the same party from changing the marriage act so that it said that marriage was between a man and woman. Any attempt to argue that the government shouldn’t be making a judgement like this and it would be better if consenting adults of the same sex were allowed to marry, we’re told that this would lead to all sorts of problems such as… Well, think of the children. All children deserve both a mother and a father… Which might be a convincing argument except for the fact that we already have single mothers and many gay people are already raising children. And I haven’t heard of any legislation in the pipeline arguing that we should remove children from anyone unlucky enough to lose their partner.
I’m sure that they’d argue that children aren’t the only reason for opposing marriage equality. There’s tradition. The Liberals have always upheld tradition. Look at how they’ve respected tradition and don’t try to make changes to workplace laws or institutions like Customs and Excise. Oh sorry, Border Force.
Let’s not forget that marriage equality would force all those people with objections to provide services to gay people getting married. Even though the clergyman has told them that he intends to make a speech on the day of their wedding condemning their lifestyle and telling them about the suffering and pain that awaits them – in the afterlife, not at the reception – who wouldn’t then insist that they get married at that church just to make the day absolutely perfect. And, of course, they’d insist on using a florist with threats of legal action rather than simply take their hundreds of dollars of business elsewhere. As for catering, well, surely they’d presume that the salmonella poisoning was just a coincidence and not because our happy couple insisted on finding a fundamentalist Christian caterer who understand that while attempted murder is considered a sin by some, it pales into insignificance beside two people making a commitment to each other when neither is of the opposite sex…
I’m not talking about the sort of commitment that Malcolm asked Donald to uphold, just in case there are any National Party voters out there who’ve managed to read this far.
And I know that some of you will find it strange that a party who keeps telling us that it’s good with money wants to waste money on a plebiscite.
I know, I know. We’ve all heard the conversation over and over.
“What’s wrong with giving the people a say?”
“You’ve got a point. So when the people vote yes, you’ll vote for marriage equality.”
“No, I’ll never vote for marriage equality. But I think it’s important that the people get a chance to vote.”
“But if it’s not going to make any difference, why not just allow the Parliament to vote?”
“Because we took a clear policy to the election on a plebiscite.”
“Yeah, but you took a clear policy to the 2007 election on having an emissions trading scheme.”
“We lost. So all promises were irrelevant.”
“Well, what about Tony’s paid parental leave scheme.”
“Oh, that was completely different.”
“We never intended to do that one.”
Yep, it’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. Will wiser heads prevail? Of course not. So the real questions are: Will Malcolm get rolled? Will several MPs leave the party and join Cory Bernardi? Who will win “Survivor”? And will we hit 2018 with no refugees from Manus or Nauru resettled in the USA but the Liberals insisting that the deal is still going ahead.
Whatever, I suspect that it’ll only be a matter of time before the Liberals start trying to argue that there are far fewer children in detention because a number of them have turned eighteen.