A sampling of what’s around the papers this morning:
Abbott to exploit split on boats
Last week Ms Gillard tried to defuse asylum-seekers as a key election battleground, saying there were “emerging points of agreement” between the two sides of politics. Ms Gillard was responding to Labor fears that Mr Abbott was gaining traction on the issue among voters in marginal seats.
But Mr Abbott said yesterday there were big differences between Labor and the Coalition policies, indicating he would exploit them. He claimed the Prime Minister was desperately trying to say “me too” on the divisive issue.
The Daily Telegraph: 2010 on track to break number of asylum seeker arrivals
With no sign of a slowdown in the boats, Australia can expect by year’s end to have accepted more than 7000 irregular maritime arrivals in 150 boats, easily outstripping the previous all-time highs of 2001.
Many politicians now believe any rhetoric or policy that ”gets tough on asylum seekers” will deliver an electoral dividend. Personally, I believe such a link is overstated. Even if it does exist, it is dangerously unpredictable and a difficult issue to control. It is a genie that once released is not easily re-bottled.
Moreover, an election fought on such an issue is likely to tear at the very fabric of Australia’s egalitarian psyche and take us back to the very worst of the race debate that fostered the rise of Pauline Hanson and One Nation.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has asked the Australian government to explain why the number of Afghan asylum seekers it has accepted as refugees has plunged since 2009.