Bill Shorten’s contortions in trying to avoid acknowledging the success of Operation Sovereign Borders has to be hurting by now.
The Opposition Leader’s attempts to avoid stating whether Labor will support the successful Stop the Boats policy of the Coalition Government has reached laughable proportions.
The Labor leader’s stature must be shrinking by the moment in the eyes of many of his colleagues as he ducks, dives and weaves whenever asked the very simple question – does he support the turn-back policy which has stopped the boats?
Mr Shorten was at his evasive best at an Adelaide press conference today - dodging the issue not once, but six times.
Journalists just wanted an answer – what is Labor’s policy? Does it support turn-backs? Does it acknowledge the Coalition’s success?
They didn’t get it.
JOURNALIST: But do you think that the decision to turn around boats in South East Asia is a by-product of Tony Abbott's policy?
SHORTEN: I think the issue of refugees and inter-communal violence, where the Rohingya people are getting persecuted, that is an issue which well predates the Abbott Government and these are issues which go back centuries.
JOURNALIST: So will Labor then be happy to adopt this policy?
SHORTEN: Well in terms of dealing with the Rohingya conflict and refugees?
JOURNALIST: In regards to turning boats around as I was asking you.
SHORTEN: Well no, we were talking about the inter-communal violence, and we see the deplorable situation and the treatment of Rohingya minorities. Those issues are deep-seated. In terms of Australia's approach in terms of asylum seekers, we fundamentally believe in a regional approach, we do support regional settlement.
JOURNALIST: So do you support turning boats around?
SHORTEN: Well Labor’s the one who’s put regional settlement on the map in terms of a policy. Our approach is defined by, we want to see refugees treated well, we want to make sure that people aren't drowning at sea and we also want to make sure that Australia's immigration policies are respected.
Further into the press conference – journalists tried again.
JOURNALIST: I’ve asked you several questions about Labor’s policy on turning around boats and you’ve dodged around it the whole time. Does Labor actually have a policy on this?
SHORTEN: Well you’ve asked several questions to do with the refugee crisis, and you’ve said well what would we do, and we’ve said back every time to your question is the Government should talk to us about what they have in mind to help this latest refugee tragedy of the Rohingya people. These conflicts go back a long time, I'm not blaming the Government for these conflicts. These solutions to these issues are complex and they require a regional approach. Labor has always supported a regional approach to deal with the issue of refugees.
JOURNALIST: And where does it stand on turning around boats?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, we need to see what the policies are in terms of how they've been working, in terms of regional approaches and attitudes to this. We are the ones who pioneered having regional resettlement but again, what I would say to the Government is sit down and talk to us about this latest refugee crisis and tragedy. Are there any other questions?
Labor’s left is readying to permanently enshrine in Labor’s policy platform opposition to the successful measures that have stopped tens of thousands of illegal maritime arrivals pouring into Australia and losses of life at sea – boat turn-backs, regional processing and temporary protection visas.
It is willing to hand control of Australia’s borders back to the people smugglers just as it did seven years ago.
‘Shrinking’ Bill Shorten is too weak to stand up to them and too weak to tell Australians where he stands.
Australians deserve an answer.