Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Island

Cast your mind back six years to Boxing Day 2004, when a tsunami caused 230,000 deaths in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and ten other countries. The then Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, was on holidays, and the tsunami was the turning point in his leadership: first he made no response, and then made a belated, surly, graceless, defensive response when asked by journalists whether he had anything to say. Latham's leadership was already on the nose, and he was ill, but his attitude and behaviour in the wake of the tsunami was the last nail in the coffin of his leadership. He resigned just over three weeks later.

All of which makes me hope that the Prime Minister, then a good friend of Latham's, remembers that too, and saw the warning in it and remembers that as well, and that therefore as we speak she is on a plane, hot-footing it back from her own holidays to front up and do and say whatever she can about today's tragic loss of life off Christmas Island. It's a tragedy on a far smaller scale, but the right-wingers are already wielding the fuzzy logic for which they are notorious, clearly unable to get their heads round the fact that the reason asylum seekers are crossing dangerous seas in dangerous boats is because staying at home is even more dangerous, and unless Gillard hits the ground running on this one, she will be actively helping out the likes of Blair and Bolt in their efforts to make her look very, very bad.


Lucy Sussex said...

She already is.
Tune going through mind: Oh hear us when we cry to thee, For those in peril on the sea!

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...


And yes, those poor people. The footage is just awful -- and as so often they were only endangered when they got within landfall.

Elisabeth said...

This is another moment when I feel ashamed of 'my country', and the lack of compassion shown to those who suffer.