Zed Seselja: “Just to be clear, the matters about LGBTI policy which Senators are asking questions about, were they raised by the previous government when negotiating the PNG solution?”
Martin Bowles: “I can’t recall exactly but I don’t believe so.”
This short question perfectly highlights the bind for the ALP. The PNG policy was rushed to the election and, as is mentioned in many media articles, little more than a piece of paper saying PNG will process and resettle asylum seekers.
The two senators doing most of the asking – Kim Carr and Lisa Singh – are both from the ALP Left faction. There is great discontent within the left over offshore resettlement, particularly in PNG. Given how little internal party debate there was time for when the policy was announced after Rudd re-elected, it is unsurprising this issue will continue to bubble away.
Estimates provides an opportunity to explore these issues. Lisa Singh has already raised a recent Amnesty International report which claimed three unaccompanied minors were on Manus Island as well as the fact distributing condoms is illegal in PNG. But given the ALP introduced this policy, they are boxed in. Probing valid areas of enquiry only leads to rhetoric in the form of questions from Liberal senators.
This is taking the sting out of many ALP questions and makes it hard to build a case to prosecute the government based on the PNG policy.