It may be risky for Labor to open up a point of difference on asylum seekers – but it’s time to call out self-serving bullshit

On a frantic parliamentary night in late August 2001, all bedlam and trilling division bells, I called in, as I did most nights as the Canberra chief of staff at the Australian Financial Review, to page one conference in Sydney.

I relayed the news that Kim Beazley had announced Labor would vote against retrospective legislation proposed by John Howard giving his government the power to remove a Norwegian freighter, the Tampa, which had picked up 433 asylum seekers. Australian SAS troops had taken control of the ship.

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