The policy that kills.
Senator Barnaby Joyce
Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water
Leader of the Nationals in the Senate
Please find below a copy of Senator Joyce’s Canberra Times Op Ed which was published today.
Seed of an idea that hasn’t been thought through
The Black Bean tree (Castanospermum australe) is currently dropping its seeds in the rainforests of Queensland and New South Wales.
The seeds are big and enticing and if you were hungry enough they would do for chestnuts. The problem is, you would die unless you followed the Aboriginal custom of soaking, crushing and baking the seeds before you ate them. You have to do the policy homework or what appears initially attractive can have disastrous outcomes.
The PNG solution is classic Kevin Rudd Black Bean policy, picked up at a counter lunch with Pauline Hanson. How can anyone take this bloke seriously? He was not going to let policy “lurch to the right”. Well, there is no further it can go, save blowing the boats out of the water after this latest solo foray by his lordship.
What happened to Rudd’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer bit and the 2006 “Faith in Politics” speech? Who pays, where do they stay, what is the legal validity, what is the long term liability, what happens if they slip out of Manus Island down to Port Moresby onto another ship to Thursday Island? What about the small problem that many in Papua New Guinea live in Third World conditions, tuberculosis is very prevalent and personal security has to deal with some serious issues such as raskols?
The big question is: can you trust someone who has a 180-degree philosophical pivot on a seminal issue? Did he give us all a mitigating speech to show he was on this journey while he was on the backbench or is this nothing beyond raw politics for which the only thing we can garner is that he is just as likely to change back or do any manner of actions because “the numbers” tell him to?
I have respect for Pauline Hanson’s consistency just as I do for Bob Brown’s philosophical, broad political consistency but Rudd is something else. What is just as aggravating is the former politically correct, socially progressive silence! If only it was about koalas instead of people then maybe they would say something.
And I will continue because I know Penny Wong and Douglas Cameron have lost their tongue. The creepy advertisement with the young woman with the highlighted hair: when did you think that deserved the dignity of the Commonwealth of Australia’s imprimatur? That is beyond perverse, it is just peacetime propaganda.
Leadership, Mr Rudd, it means we do not have to love you. It means that on observation and action you have the character and consistency that underpins what is good, which is not the same as popular. And to the Labor Party – if you are willing to put aside all your beliefs for power, well then why not just join the Liberal Party? You would definitely be in power after the election then.
So, as this election campaign builds to an announcement, this is the question I imagine will be asked by those with a natural leaning to the left. What exactly do you get with a Labor organisation now dictated to by Rudd? Where is this person’s compass? What star is he guiding it by as it appears to be alpha populist? Who is left around Rudd to bring balance to what should be a position influenced by the philosophy of Bonhoeffer but now has even started to shock the shock jocks?
Beyond that is the absolute certainty of chaos descending in the same fashion as it did with Fuel Watch, Grocery Watch, the war on obesity, school halls, the surplus, the debt, the East Timor Solution, the Malaysian Solution, the 2020 summit – you get the picture.
I have always wondered how many Aboriginals died working out that the seed of the Black Bean tree had to be soaked, pounded into flour and baked to avoid its toxins. Likewise, policy experiments conducted flying by the seat of your pants may just work once in a blue moon. But when they go wrong it is the undisputed fact that it rests on the heads of those with the authority of the decision and those who stood silent and watched.
The ceiling insulation debacle has probably been the worst so far because four lives were lost, but the absence of proper planning on the PNG solution has sobering potential to be at least as flawed. The implementation thus far has unerring similarities. C. australe