Without a great deal of fanfare, the new government has ended the shameful â€˜Pacific solutionâ€™ under which refugees were held in offshore camps, located on the territory of neighbouring countries which the Australian government bullied and bribed into hosting them. Most of the refugees held at the Nauru camp have been allowed to settle in Australia.
Defenders of the Howard government can make whatever claims they like about this evil system, whether to say that it was justified by results or to claim that Laborâ€™s policy isnâ€™t really all that different. The fact remains that this was a cruel and brutal response to community panic; panic the government itself did a great deal to stir up, and even more to exploit politically. Those responsible, most notably Howard himself and Phillip Ruddock, will carry the stain of the Pacific solution to their graves and beyond.