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This blog has avowedly ignored the non-issue of asylum seekers for its entire life, but I’m going to touch briefly on the issue simply because the Malaysia Solution decision by the High Court could radically shift the political landscape in Australia.

There has been so much written about the decision and how it can hurt the Government; I won’t repeat that, I’m sure much of what they say is right and much of it isn’t. But one point which I haven’t heard much about is the one I think is the most critical.

The Gillard government has been facing much woe on all sides – on the economy, on the mining tax, on migration etc; the failure of the Malaysia Solution, all those difficulties I just alluded to, merely add to that pile. They may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

What’s missing from this analysis is why, when the government is wading through this toxic sewage, is it not up to its neck and drowning? The answer is that Tony Abbott’s persona is deterring them from actively committing to vote Liberal. If you summed up that feeling into one phrase, it would be the “Dr No” image he’s cultivated. That image is about to be shattered when Tony Abbott starts to call the shots on the resolution to the Malaysia Solution debacle. That will change the whole tenor of the future debate.

 

*Caveats: (1) This post in no way implies the High Court decision is unusual or political. I have not read the decision, but it appears to be a rather standard application of interpretive principles, albeit one where Heydon J was unusually in dissent. I strongly disagree with Gillard’s comments about French CJ, if only because the case he decided as a Federal Court Judge, Ruddock v Vadarlis (the Tampa case) was decided on entirely and completely different issues to the Malaysia Solution case. It turned on whether there was a prerogative power or a nationhood power to repel asylum seekers by force; that argument was not raised in this case.

(2) I do not endorse Abbott’s views (in fact, I almost entirely disagree with him) but I have consistently said that he has a very effective political strategy. Destroy the government in the polls. I personally think his low preferred PM rankings are understated. People are reluctant to commit to him now, but they’ll change their minds once the looming election forces them to turn their minds to the issue.

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2 Comments

  1. Rudd Mk II sounds like sweet melody. A good government has lost it’s way…

  2. If I find some spare time, I was hoping to write a good post on whether switching to Rudd is a good idea, and when we should switch.

    Basically, switching to Rudd is no good if you don’t fix the underlying problems causing the declining poll numbers. If you do switch to Rudd, it has to be at the right time in the right circumstances.


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