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Wilkie has crossed a thin line

By Malcolm Mackerras - posted Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Figuratively speaking, Australian politics today presents us with twin brothers, Senator Bob Brown and Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie.

Not so long ago they were on a joint Senate ticket in Tasmania.

However, for reasons I never understood they fell out.


My personal relations with both men continue to be good. Yet I cannot resist "sanctimonious humbug" as my current description of each man.

The main joint characteristic they have is the expression of outrage that Julia Gillard would breach a woman man agreement made after the 2010 election while expressing no concern that she could tell the Australian people that "There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead" as a prelude to its introduction.

Dudding the Australian people is fine but dudding a powerful member or senator is an outrage to democracy! On Wednesday, September 21 last year, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, introduced a Bill titled "Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and other measures) Bill 2011".

It is known for short as the "Migration Act amendment". Its purpose is to circumvent the decision by the majority of High Court justices handed down on the previous August 31.

Both men opposed the amendment as a matter of principle.

The consequence of that rejection will be that TonyAbbott will be able to implement and fully justify asylum-seeker policies both Brown and Wilkie find appalling.


One would hope they might revise their thinking but I cannot say I expect it. I know too well what principled people are like.

There is a very thin line between a self-proclaimed "man of principle" and a man I describe as a "sanctimonious humbug".

There is no doubt in my mind: Brown and Wilkie today are big assets for Abbott.

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This article was first published in The Canberra Times on January 27, 2012.

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About the Author

Malcolm Mackerras is a Visiting Fellow in the Public Policy Institute, Australian Catholic University, Canberra Campus.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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