5 December 2023

Nation has much to lose if panicky Labor lets Opposition run negative agenda

| Ian Bushnell
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Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese needs to get the government back on track. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Why is the Albanese Government tying itself in knots to appease an Opposition and its media cheerleaders whipping up a frenzy over a High Court decision that was long overdue and, in the greater scheme of things, will have next to no repercussions for most people?

Its rush to legislate to keep Australians safe from some of the 141 people released from the twilight zone of indefinite detention only to have, as is utterly predictable, the Opposition coming back for more and scenting blood has been lamentable.

Now it’s got to the absurd stage where former cop Peter Dutton is being labelled a protector of pedophiles, in a new low point of politics, for not supporting the government’s plans to protect the public from sex offenders because they don’t go far enough.

After the Voice referendum loss, the government should have reset the agenda for the rest of the term. Instead, it has panicked and let the Opposition wedge it on its favourite issues of immigration, national security and crime.

Indefinite detention, in which stateless people were kept prisoner for a decade or more, was a black mark on Australian justice.

Some are refugees, and some have committed serious crimes, including murder and sex offences, for which they have served their time. But one is a PNG-born man with an Australian father who has lived most of his life in this country, albeit imperfectly, and another is an Iranian asylum seeker man who came here by boat.

They have been unable to be deported.

Now the government is proposing a system of preventative detention, which the Opposition had been calling for.

It is using the nod and wink that the High Court has given in its reasons for its decision overturning indefinite detention to justify re-detaining those deemed to be a risk to the public.

Note that criminals are released every day from prison, returning to the community no matter how heinous their deeds, but there is no suggestion that they be held indefinitely or be monitored with electronic ankle bracelets.

Is anybody thinking about the implications of adopting such a punitive, selective system?

The broader point is that the government has let itself be stampeded and distracted from the far more important issues affecting Australians.

Its important decision to underwrite new renewable energy projects in response to a decline in investment and the need to keep the lights on, and its statement on climate change, have been drowned out by all the noise about the threat to children, the undermining of the immigration regime and the government being soft on crime generally.

Issues such as the cost of living, interest rates, and the awful state of housing in this country are being sucked dry of oxygen as Mr Dutton has the government running scared.

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It’s a failure of leadership on both sides, but Anthony Albanese is the prime minister. He needs to step up, pull his team together, put principle above political expedience, and regain the initiative, or the results could be calamitous, not just for the Labor Party.

It is only 18 months since Australians voted for a new direction and turfed out a government that had lost all credibility. Turning back to such a recalcitrant and negative alternative with the nation facing such big challenges would be a setback it can’t afford.

Labor has been here before. It really has no excuses.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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