The test for Gillard

I’m not the only one preparing to judge the new Prime Minister on what she does, rather than who she is or how she got there. Armagnac highlights one critical issue that will tell us all we need to know about Gillard PM:

It’ll be all too tempting for Gillard to extend the farcical suspension of due process for refugees. It’s all too easy to viciously kick the least empowered, when the window-licking hordes want to see them viciously kicked.

But she should know better. Gillard was a lawyer, and should understand just how critical an injustice it is locking people up and denying them due process. As Armagnac puts it:

Suspending due process is like suspending the Racial Discrimination Act for the NT intervention; it speaks for itself on all the wrong levels.

This is the great moral challenge of her time. If she fails it, we can stop with all the hoo-har about her gender, her eloquent advocacy, her toughness… all mere warbling in the background if she shows that she has no basic ethical or moral fibre.

And this, from an ex-Labor man, should really worry them:

I know you can’t deliver me utopia on this unpopular issue, but please don’t sell out any further. You will, seriously, end up sitting to the right of the liberal party. And if you do that, people really will start putting Abbott above you in the preferences.

Have things got so bad in the ALP that they won’t just be indistinguishable from the Liberals on refugees, but even worse? Neither is acceptable for any principled person with a sense of justice (and thank God we’ve got an alternative in the Greens) but… imagine putting the Liberals above Labor. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

UPDATE: You’d think this kind of pronouncement would appeal to someone like me:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she has no intention of pretending to believe in God to attract religiously-inclined voters.

It’d impress me a lot more if she announced she was going to stop pandering to the imagined desires of religiously-inclined voters – if she was to bow to reason and cancel the unworkable and dangerous internet filter, and stop discriminating against gay and lesbian Australians. But she hasn’t (going so far as to retain Conroy in the same position in the ministry) and I doubt she will.

Apparently we’re still a couple of decades behind Iceland.

11 responses to “The test for Gillard

  1. Well, there are lawyers and there are lawyers. Doing a bit of ambulance chasing/employer shakedown work for Slater & Gordon hardly makes her a Queen’s Council, does it?

    It is interesting though that the Left, normally so attuned to the power of symbolism (“let’s sign Kyoto!” “let’s say Sorry!” “Yippee!”), completely misses the reason why asylum seekers are such a big deal is not their quantitative numbers, but that they are a proxy for much wider concerns, both cultural and practical. A letter in the Herald today, not normally a source of sense, sums it up: “One reason there is opposition to accepting the tiny number of asylum seekers is resentment about the total rate of immigration. Slowing the intake of all migrants would reduce the perception of competition for jobs and housing. In due course this might contribute to greater willingness for Australia to take a fair share of refugees from violent and repressive places.”

    Now, on balance, I think population and people are a good thing — I side with Tim Blair on this — but not everyone agrees. Interestingly this creates a tension between federal Labor, which sets immigration policy, and state Labor, which in NSW and Victoria is unable to keep up and create the infrastructure necessary to cope with a growing population.

  2. I know it’s very early days, and she is yet to stamp her footprint on the parliamentary party, but the real concern I have with Gillard at this stage is she seems more bot-like than Rudd. She has none of his vision and passion, and seems far too willing to bow to what the cowardly turncoats want. Backing away from so-called Big Australia was the first. What’s next?

  3. confessions

    The best thing about Gillard is she doesn’t believe in god. Hopefully this means we can dump the fundie filter, and stop pandering to the religious zealots who try to exert their poisonous influence on our elected government.

  4. I’d have been more optimistic about that if she’d dumped Conroy.

    She hasn’t called the election yet, so she’s still got time to make such an announcement – but I wouldn’t put money on it.

  5. confessions

    I think keeping Conroy was more about making minimal changes to the ministry before the election. She really only allocated her portfolios rather than make more substantial changes to the front bench.

    I’d be very surprised if Conroy retains the communications portfolio after the election – he’s far too controversial and zealot like. It would be good if they hived off the NBN and gave that to Conroy. It’s a big enough, and important-enough portfolio in itself to make him feel he isn’t being demoted.

  6. Far too late. If they go to the election with that filter policy in place, don’t expect it to be changed after they’re back in.

    And I’m not all that interested in protecting Conroy’s feelings. He deserves to be demoted.

  7. confessions

    I’m not interested in doing so either. But neither you nor I have to manage him as one of the team, someone who comes from the same mob who happen to own the Labor leadership atm.

    The important thing is getting him away from communications. If he goes with a smile, all the better. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember reading something that the filter is on the backburner until after the election. So whether Conroy goes now or then is immaterial.

  8. If Labor goes to the election with the filter, it will be very hard to preference them above the Liberals.

  9. Ms Gillard’s position drew immediate praise from atheists, but a word of caution from the Australian Christian Lobby.

    ”I don’t think it is a case of being disappointed,” the lobby’s chief-of-staff, Lyle Shelton, said. ”It is great that the Prime Minister is being so open and honest on such an important question in life, but I think it would be naive to think that it may not have some electoral implication.”

    The fundies are circling. Stay strong Jools.

  10. “Stay strong”? She’s already indicated she’s going to pander to the fundies by continuing to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

  11. I’m talking about her views on god.

    I predict a dog-whistling campaign by Big Religion around her marital status and childlessness, all framed against her atheism. I’d hate to see her backtrack on her comments yesterday, but given what we’ve seen from her thus far, I’m not confident.

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