Did Tony Abbott’s tough stand on refugees win him the Australia election?

Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party won big in Australia’s elections last week.  (The Liberal Party is the conservative party.)  And the leftist British paper, the Guardian, attributes it to his emphasis on refugees with its headline, Tony Abbott, the man who promised to ‘stop the boats’, sails to victory.  Its snide subhead, “Australia’s new prime minister succeeded by exploiting fear about migrants and disunity among his rivals,” is par for the leftist course.

In other words, Australians have no legitimate reason to oppose boatloads of refugees and it’s exploitation to bring it up.  More from the Guardian:

Abbott says the country is facing a “national emergency”; he is to appoint a three-star general to oversee his “Operation Sovereign Borders”.

The political pressure he exerted in opposition on the issue was so great it forced Labor into a spectacular volte-face on processing refugees offshore. Tents and temporary structures on the tiny pacific islands of Manus and Nauru house refugees in conditions widely criticised by human rights groups. Thousands more live on bridging visas in Australia, unable to work while their claims are processed.

Labor’s parting shot in what had become a contest of who could appear toughest on refugees was a deal with Papua New Guinea. Refugees arriving by boat will now be settled there rather than in Australia.

As prime minister, Abbott will go further, reducing Australia’s humanitarian intake by 6,250 places a year to 13,750 and refusing refugees permanent residence, access to family reunions or to legal aid.

The Guardian minimizes the problem, saying Australia’s numbers of refugees are small by world standards.  It doesn’t give any information on why there’s a problem.  See Ann’s recent post for some background, or search “Abbott” for more.

Australia didn’t admit any non-white immigrants until the 1970s.  Now discrimination against immigrants on the basis of race is illegal, though there are sometimes voices raised against the policy.   But the voters are not so bogged down in political correctness that they think they need to accept boatloads of people without regard to their effect on Australia — and many of whom are not true refugees.  Would that we had some courageous politicians like Tony Abbott.