Which is why they look foolish, because no matter what they do the Opposition will always say "I told you so" and will say it, and does!
This, it seems to me, is because they lack either the will (I suspect) or the imagination (one would hope not) to actually try and envisage and implement a different approach.
This is fear driven. The fear of electoral backlash. The loudest voices in our community are shouting "Send them all home!"...but even the feeblest of intelligences must recognise that many "homes" no longer exist. So the compromise is don't let them get to our shores.
That this is absurd is apparent when ever we recognise that "boat people" are only a fraction of those who make irregular arrivals.
I am inclined to think that TWO things should happen.
1. There should be genuine commitment to and defining of those who we believe can be resettled here. This will of course be a source of widespread disagreement, but in the end our leaders should put the cards clearly on the table.
2. We must then accept the consequences of our own decisions. This would include not accepting those who we have not committed to help. We should indeed "send them back". It may be that the Malaysian solution is perhaps the best expression we have had of this so far.
BUT we should also stop dilly dallying with the system of offshore processing and process those who we do accept here.
It seems to me morally reprehensible to exploit Christmas Island, Nauru, Timor, New Guinea...and perhaps even Malaysia with the sort of game playing that we have been involved in for the best part of twenty years.
We need to stop being poll driven, and start being principled. This is hard but it is the only way forward in the face of complexity