Australia's asylum seeker debate has vanished in a puff of smoke with both parties stampeding to the right in a bitter race to see who can be the first to announce that from here on in asylum seekers will be intercepted on the high seas and shot as pirates.
Asylum seekers are desperate people who are fleeing violence, rape, torture, oppression, and terrorism in their home countries. Many of them would like to live in Australia, a country with a high standard of living, a full signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, reasonable political stability and relatively low levels of violent crime.
Australia is a spacious, relatively wealthy country that prides itself on its tolerance and generosity.
Except, apparently, towards desperate non-white people fleeing horrors we can't really imagine. They apparently deserve to be treated like criminals and exiled to the farther reaches of impoverished nations with endemic levels of violent crime where they can be brutalised by the locals in a less eye-catching but no less relentless manner than in their country of origin.
In order to achieve this noble goal our politicians have shown themselves willing to simply ignore international law, unilaterally ignore the 1951 refugee convention while still claim to be a full signatory, retrospectively change our laws so that we can erode the legal rights of those asylum seekers who are already here, and deploy troops to try and hijack incoming vessels.
And these instruments of the national will do all this with the hearty approval of the majority of Australian voters who apparently quite like repressive and racist policy decisions.
Australia's once proud position in the international community is now forever tarnished. We have joined the ranks of those nations who flout international law when it suits us, who will abuse legal process so that we can persecute and victimise the downtrodden. Not to guarantee our safety, not to protect our economic position, but because we're self-absorbed, intolerant xenophobes too greedy or lazy to exert ourselves to help people in need.