This is Australia. Today.
Today was a triumph of faux conscience and political expedience over actual compassion and humanity. The vast majority of mainstream reaction to the Houston panel’s report and the Gillard government response showed that we now see a Pacific Style solution as necessary to save lives, which is quite an amazing act of cognitive dissonance. We are now so disconnected from reality that taking legitimate refugees off shore for an unknown period of detention is seen as a gift to them.
Perhaps, as Jon Kudelka suggested on Twitter, we actually asked the panel the wrong question. It seems they were asked “how can we make this problem go away (politically)?” To which the logical response is, I guess, “give the Opposition everything they want, but do with the backing of an expert panel”. This game of call and answer has no provision for ethics or humanitarian obligation, obviously.
There are really two great pieces I recommend you read on this subject, and in some ways they reflect on the question of what the panel were hoping to achieve and how the government has immediately responded. It’s clear that the government had already saddled the horse and were just waiting for the panel to give it a wee smack.
Here’s Waleed Aly on the nature of “the problem”.
And the always fantastic Bernard Keane at Crikey on life at the arse end of “least worst” policy making. Oh, and please, please listen to this fantastic This American Life episode from back in 2003 on Nauru and the reason it is such an amenable dumping ground for our uncomfortable problems.
And heere’s my effort on today’s proceedings…