I find myself forced to admit that I owe Tony Abbott an apology.
In the heat of the 2010 election campaign, I refused to believe his undertaking to turn back the boats. Like many others from the latte-sipping inner-city leftie cultural-relativist brigade (as the fascist racist Andrew Bolt-worshipping brigade choose to call us), I simply could not see how it could be done. It was too dangerous, it breached international law, it would shred our relationship with Indonesia – it was cowboy stuff. Abbott’s election-campaign insistence that he would do it was just so much political bullshit, and once in government he would put on his sad face and tell the Australian people that it was a non-core promise.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa (as I was not raised to say in such circumstances, but as Tony presumably was).
I did not think that I was capably of overestimating Tony Abbott, but apparently I was. I naively assumed that there were depths to he would not sink. How silly of me.
It turns out that he is absolutely prepared to breach international law, to incur the displeasure of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, to flush what he himself described as Australia’s most important relationship down the toilet, if not by turning back the unseaworthy boats in which the asylum-seekers had made their journey, then by loading them onto other boats and pointing them back to where they had come from. Well, not all the way back, but far enough back that they need be no concern of the Australian people.
And now, he is prepared to watch the Australian concentration camps on Manus Island descend into hellish misery and violence, as concentration camps are wont to do.* As Australia’s popularity in both Indonesia and Papua New Guinea plunges new depths. As a retired navy captain describe the policy as “morally corrupt and indefensible”. As refugees pay for this policy with their lives.
As Australia renders itself guilty of conspiracy to murder.
But Tony Abbott did find a way to turn back the boats, contrary to my expectations.
My most humble apologies.