Cynical U- turn shapes as bid to gain power
BILL Shorten can’t be trusted — or forgiven — when he says Labor should now support turning back the boats.
After all, for seven years Labor refused to turn back boats from Indonesia and vilified the Liberals who wanted to. Moreover, the Opposition Leader hasn’t now changed his mind from shame that 1200 people died at sea under Labor’s policies.
He hasn’t changed it from guilt that Labor let 50,000 illegal immigrants land, or wasted $ 12 billion.
No, there’s one reason Shorten waited until two years after the Government started Operation Sovereign Borders before conceding it has worked and Labor should adopt it.
It’s because the election is a year away, maybe sooner, and he knows he cannot win without supporting turnbacks.
This is Shorten wanting to save his career, not save lives.
If he wanted to save lives, as he claims, why didn’t he support turnbacks a decade ago, when the Howard government used them successfully?
Why didn’t he support them seven years ago, when boat people were again drowning under the Rudd government’s weaker policies?
Why didn’t he support them last year, when his immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, tried to get Labor to drop its mad opposition?
Reason? Because Labor has for years indulged in the deadly politics of seeming, not doing.
To seem compassionate, Labor in 2008 scrapped John Howard’s tough border controls, including turnbacks. And as the boats returned and the people drowned, Labor refused to admit its deadly mistake.
The denial was disgraceful, and almost every Labor MP was complicit.
In 2012, Julia Gillard claimed the Liberals’ turnback policy “won’t work”. Then immigration minister Chris Bowen claimed it was “dangerous”.
In 2013, Kevin Rudd insisted turnbacks could even “risk some sort of conflict with Indonesia” involving warships. Then immigration spokesman Tony Burke claimed the Liberals’ policy “was never going to be able to be delivered”.
Even in 2013, as the Liberals started to tow back boats, Shorten insisted “the Coalition’s policy is absolutely not working”.
And only now does Shorten say “me too”. Again, not because of the dead – but because of the votes.