So Kevin Rudd has announced that asylum seekers reaching Australia by boat will no longer have the chance to resettle here – instead they will, if found to be legitimate refugees, be settled in Papua New Guinea. Kevin Rudd and the Labor party may have come up with this plan and made the announcement, but make no mistake: this is squarely Tony Abbott and the Coalition’s fault.
Six years ago Kevin Rudd and Labor dismantled Howard’s Pacific Solution. They were supported in this by public opinion, which had turned as people became aware of the psychological damage being done by the harshness of the policy. By some measures, the Pacific solution was a less harsh measure than the current announcement of permanent resettlement in PNG. It seems fair to say that the current policy is one that Labor would never have countenanced when it first came to office six years ago. In those six years, the discussion has soured; the public opinion has turned; and Labor is on the verge of being decimated in an election with the significant risk that all of their good achievements of the past two terms could be reversed under an Abbott government.