It is right that we should be reminded, by none other than Alexander Downer, (the Advertiser today) that it is appropriate to have 'zero-tolerance' for people smugglers. No one would disagree with that.
I must admit that I always feel a little uncomfortable being lectured by any former Howard government minister about the rights and wrongs of immigration policy.
What is important is that the true mark of a civilised society is not that it stomps on those who exploit the vulnerable, but that it is generous and compassionate towards those who are so exploited. This does not always appear to be the case either under this government, and certainly not under the former government of which Downer was a part.