By Gary Warner
It appears that the gloves are off as this Federal election campaign heads for the big day on September 7.
Experience prepares us to expect bare-knuckle fisticuffs between the Labor and Liberal candidates, but brawling between coalition partners is an uncommon event.
Which is why our eyebrows were raised by a media release from the office of Liberal candidate Melissa Price, on the subject of illegal immigrants arriving in boats.
Predictably reciting the ‘stop the boats’ mantra of Liberal leader Tony Abbott, Ms Price said that under any party other than the Liberals, the boats would keep coming and Labor’s recent changes were “falling apart at the seams”.
However, her statement then unexpectedly took a potshot at Nationals candidate Shane Van Styn.
“The irony now is that the person trying to achieve the softest stance on border protection is National Candidate for Durack, Shane Van Styn who wants the illegal boat people brought onshore for processing rather than away from the mainland,” said Ms Price.
“In the 12 June edition of the North West telegraph, Mr Van Styn said: [“In regard to offshore processing, I don’t see the need to keep pushing everyone out to these remote islands. They can be brought (onshore), processed and sent home quicker.”]
That came as a surprise to Mr Van Styn, who accused Ms Price of quoting him completely out of context.
“I don’t deny saying that, but at the time I was talking specifically about illegal immigrants who destroy or discard their papers before they arrive,” said Mr Van Styn.
“These are the people who take up the most time for our immigration authorities, processing them and sending them home can be done more quickly here, it’s as simple as that.”
Stating that he agreed with coalition policy regarding illegal arrivals, Mr Van Styn said he could not understand the attack by Ms Price, who has the second preference spot on his how-to-vote card.