Looks like Kevin Rudd is in it to win.* In 2007 he outflanked the Coalition on the right on the economy, this year he plans to do it on boat people.
From now on, any asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees.
Asylum seekers taken to Christmas Island will be sent to Manus and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea for assessment of their refugee status.
If they are found to be genuine refugees they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea, an emerging economy with a strong future; a robust democracy which is also a signatory to the United Nations Refugees Convention.
This is even tougher than Howard’s temporary protection visas. It is also something of a turn around for Rudd himself.
If I return as the leader of the Government and Prime Minister [this was in 2010], I will be very clear of one thing, this party and Government will not be lurching to the right on the question of asylum seekers.
This policy is probably something the Coalition only ever contemplated in its wet dreams. I suspect it will quickly adopt this policy. To some extent this will blunt any electoral support Rudd could gain – not only has he lurched to the right on this issue, he has legitimised any such lurch.
The politics of this are going to be interesting to watch. The Australian government’s own travel advice for PNG suggests that individual should exercise a high degree of caution. Despite all that I suspect the “PNG solution” will quickly become bipartisan policy with Greens and (some) libertarians sniping from the sidelines.
* Unlike SamuelJ, I’m not convinced about a change to Malcolm Turnbull.