Why Tony Abbott can’t compromise on boats

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A RECENT letter to two of the key independents in the Federal Parliament was copied to me by a friend. It illustrated for me the extent to which the blame game has plunged to new political depths.

The refugee debate has focused the community squarely on the putrid nature of politics.

Attempts to blame this venomous atmosphere on the minority government were blasted out of the water by the actions of the cross-benches during the most recent sitting of parliament.

It was not the government or the cross-benches who were not prepared to compromise, it was Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his cronies.

When a cross-bench solution was put with a Bill moved by independent Rob Oakeshott to amend migration legislation and facilitate offshore processing, there was finally an opportunity. Oakeshott provided the middle road.

However, a solution that found the middle road would mean the end of a political gold mine for Abbott who, despite the platitudes, is not going to lose this issue that he has turned so well to his advantage.

The real problem is clear – the politics is simply more important than the outcome.

This was the motivation for my friend’s letter:

Dear Mr Oakeshott, Mr Windsor,

I have not done enough to support you.

Your continuing efforts to make this current Australian Parliament function well, both by governing effectively and also – and it is no contradiction – by providing the scene for complex public debate outside the cloying control of executive government – have been consistent, professional, competent, largely successful and well worthy of admiration. I regret that the reaction of our standard media and many of our fellow citizens seems intent on denying you the recognition and appreciation which you deserve.

This past week has reinforced my views about your performance. I thank you, and I can only apologise that I have not the opportunity to provide you any useful assistance. Please be assured that I rarely miss an occasion, in discussing politics with family, friends and at work, to promote a vision for better public decision-making, which includes a place for people who act as you do, and to praise you both personally. I regret that I cannot even offer you the encouragement of living in your electorates, for if I did I would certainly be inspired to offer you more practical support.

I imagine that you must end your working days depressed by the condemnation too unfairly heaped upon you, and the constant frustration which the actions of others must cause you. Please be comforted that at least some people in our nation, of whom I am one, are glad that you are there.

If the conservatives win the next election, Australians will have rewarded the most appalling form of politics. Others will learn and we can only expect this abysmal type of politics to flourish.

Michael Moore was an independent member of the ACT Legislative Assembly (1989 to 2001) and was minister for health.

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Michael Moore
Michael Moore is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and an independent minister for health in the Carnell government. He has been a political columnist with "CityNews" since 2006.


  1. Thank you for exprressing so welll my own thoughts about our two truly independent MHRs who exercise their balance of power with so much integrity.

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