The Political Sands Have Shifted For Both Major Parties
There is a thought, at least amongst hopeful members of the Coalition, that Labor’s victory on asylum seekers is fool's gold.
The Opposition may have humbled the Government, dealing it a once in a generation defeat to its own legislation on the floor of parliament.
But it has surely opened a Pandora’s box of questions amongst constituents, who may well believe Labor’s soft underbelly on immigration has finally emerged.
If the polls are to be believed, Labor will win the May Federal election ‘in a canter’ -- to use a Scott Morrison dictum -- which makes Bill Shorten’s backing of Dr Kerryn Phelps' medical Bill on asylum seekers all the more dangerous.
One Coalition MP warned that it only takes one case for the issue to implode or explode depending what side of the divide you prefer your political pew.
Another Coalition backbencher, with his finger on the pulse, went further.
“The feedback from the electorate is constituents are furious with Labor’s actions," the backbencher said.
"I think it’s a huge tactical error (for them).”
Labor’s taciturn demeanour during question time on Wednesday lends credence to the government’s hopes, what’s more, if you believe the rumours, opposition MPs are at each other’s throats.
The political sands have shifted for both major parties.
Once safe inner-city working-class Labor seats are now the home to trendy lefties. Bill Shorten though must appeal as much to them (and their hatred of coal) as to rural Queenslanders, not to mention migrant dominated Western Sydney electorates.
The Government has moved quickly to pour as much petrol on the fire as possible, stoking maximum fear.
Last week it championed closing 19 detention centres. Now it’s reopening Christmas Island and potentially others too, such is the size of the armada which supposedly threatens.
For now, the Government remains the underdog but make no mistake, Labor has strolled into Scott Morrison’s hitting wheel, reigniting an issue many would prefer it left well alone.
Don’t forget the Tampa, which helped save John Howard’s government. According to the polls at the time, Howard's was in an even more perilous position than the current administration.
All eyes are now on the next Newspoll. But that won’t be out for almost a fortnight.