I come to bury Caesar

04/09/2011 § 3 Comments


I saw a government die this week.

Well, not die. At least not yet. The last shudder of life has yet to leave the body. But soon it will.

And I saw the mortal blow. The victim had been stabbed and sliced by foes before. The victim was weak. Yet, like Caesar, the victim still whirled and flayed and fought as if not dead. Then the High Court slipped the dagger between Gillard Government’s shoulder blades. And now the Government is dead. As dead as the Malaysian solution. Et tu, French CJ?

For those not willing to indulge my strained literary allusions (or my illusions), the gist is this:

1) The Gillard Government indulges in the never-ending Australian pantomime of protecting vulnerable bogans from marauding Mongol-like hoards of boat people. It does this by promising to send 800 of them to Malaysia, in exchange for receiving 4000 Malaysian refugees. (Yes I know that means we actually end up with more refugees. Shh! No one tell the swing voters of Western Sydney!)

2) Unfortunately for the Gillard Government the Migration Act has a pesky provision that forbids Australia from shunting refugees off to another country unless that other country treats refugees to a few minimum rights. Small problem: Malaysia has not signed the Refugee Convention, doesn’t recognise refugee rights in its domestic laws, and has a history of caning troublesome refugees.

3) Boy genius immigration Minister Chris Bowen has a solution! Simply sign a non-legally binding agreement with the Malaysian government asking if (pretty please) they could be nicer to refugees. Then feed the High Court a line about how you’re convinced ‘that the Malaysian government had made a significant conceptual shift in its thinking about how it wanted to treat refugees’. Problem solved.

4) High Court says ‘yeah … nah‘.

5) Government sooks. Blames the umpire.

Which brings me to my main point: how could they be so fucking stupid.

Bear in mind this is the most unpopular government in recent memory. Whether fairly acquired or not, it has a reputation as a government that can’t or won’t do what it says it will do. And the ‘boat people’ issue has always hurt Labor. And the High Court has been notoriously bolshie of late.

So you would think that this would be something that would be done with care and forethought. That you would only proceed it you were absolutely sure your case was watertight. But no. Not this Government.

Until now I had thought the Gillard Government might be able to recover. But it is now dying and will soon be dead.

There was a time when I wavered between the Labor Party and the Greens. The Greens were principled, but naive. Labor was competent, but hollow. Yet Labor is not competent anymore. It is both hollow and useless. This is a choice no more: the rubble of the modern Labor Party is not a real option.

So I’m off to bring reason to the Greens. I may fail. I may suffocate under the faux-Romantic, earth-mother notions of the deep-green faction. Maybe I’ll be excreted from the party, like a splinter from under the skin. But what else is left?

Wish me luck!


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