JOHN MENADUE. The Coalition and media myth about stopping the boats.

With the appointment of Angus Campbell as the new Chief of the General Staff we have witnessed again the repetition of the nonsense that the Coalition and Operation Sovereign Borders stopped the boats. As if the media farce over a Chinese military base in Vanuatu was not enough the media has climbed aboard again to continue the myth about the stopping of the boats. Perhaps being careless in the first place the media finds it embarrassing to admit error.  

Below I have reposted what I posted in Pearls and Irritations in 2017 and earlier

Peter Hughes and I posted two blogs in September 2015 (‘Slogans versus facts on boat arrivals’ Part 1 and Part 2) that pointed out first, that Tony Abbott kept the door open for tens of thousands of boat arrivals by opposing legislation that would have enabled implementation of the Malaysia Arrangement of September 2011. Secondly, we pointed out that Tony Abbott’s role in ‘stopping the boats’ was at the margins and vastly overrated.

Since then, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton have continued their spin about how they stopped the boats. They didn’t. Unfortunately, our mainstream media were duped in the first place by uncritically accepting the Coalition’s line in the confused period of the changeover of governments and in the drama and secrecy surrounding a small number of turn backs.

Our main conclusion in those posts was that:

By the time Operation Sovereign Borders geared up for its first boat turn backs on 19 December 2013, the number of boat arrivals was down from 48 in July 2013 to only seven in December 2013. OSB applied only to the tail end of the boat drama. The ‘game-changer’ was Kevin Rudd’s announcement in July 2013 that people arriving by boat after that time would not be settled in Australia.

Arguably boat turn backs would not have been successful at all without the July 2013 decision. For example, the Navy and Customs were able to turn back three boats in December 2013 after the introduction of OSB. It’s hard to believe that it would have been physically possible to turn back 48 boats if they had continued at the monthly rate that occurred in July 2013 and that Indonesia would have quietly acquiesced.

In short, Tony Abbot in Opposition gave the green light to people smugglers by opposing the implementation of the Malaysia Arrangement in September 2011. In Government, Operation Sovereign Borders, had a marginal effect on boat arrivals. By the time OSB came into effect, the number of boat arrivals had been dramatically reduced.

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3 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. The Coalition and media myth about stopping the boats.

  1. Kevin Bain says:

    Yes, MSM is lazy on the detail but Abbott was able to spook Rudd into the July 2013 “no settlement here” decision, so he’s entitled to share the ignominy. No wonder he lacks credibility for either truth or competency. When he did a U turn in 2016 in favour of the 2011 “Malaysia solution”, he said “the 800 boat people that could have been sent to Malaysia was less than a month’s intake, even then” which is more than double the figures in your Arrivals Table prior to his decision.

    With Costello, Menadue, Brennan, Robert Manne has tried to find a least-worst solution (based on political realism rather than moral purism) without much effect or support. His recent book of essays reminds us that public opinion since about 2000 has been against generous treatment of refugees who arrive by boat. The big challenge is how can we ever remove this “original sin” from our national DNA, which is probably bigger now? The growth of refugee numbers has led to harder hearts internationally, with step-back policies from Macron, Merkel, Trudeau. There are many admirable grassroots groups advocating for higher values and working on projects in local communities and institutions , but the power to achieve new policy settings is missing.

  2. John O'Callaghan says:

    The MSM in this country are bloody woeful at informing us but very good at running a protection racket for this Government, have a look at the way the majority of the presstitites protected Bill Morrow at the PC the other day, bloody cringe worthy Murdoch bum wiping performance by almost the whole lot of em!

  3. Mike Yewdall says:

    It’s no surprise that the government stretches the truth, to be kind about it. The number of spin doctors used by this lot is a goldmine for the PR industry and the politics of fear has always been a weapon of the conservatives. After all, they don’t have anything else to offer.

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