Why would the East Timorese be a party to this?

WHAT a desperate, precipitous announcement it is from Julia Gillard on the boatpeople issue ("Gillard bets on offshore solution", 7/7).

It suddenly appears that a "solution" to the unauthorised (but not illegal) arrival of the boatpeople in Australia is to foist them upon the poorest country in the region.

It's a solution rushed out like the mining tax was under Kevin Rudd - just in time for the election, without any consideration of the real implications and without consulting the Timorese government.

Well, Julia, after 25 years of brutality under the Indonesians, has it occurred to you that neither the government of this tiny nation, nor the people, are likely to take a positive view of the incarceration of individuals who have not been found guilty of any crime? Or did you just think that a few more hidden behind razor wire wouldn't matter as long as the issue is seen to be dealt with in some manner? Shame on you.

James Hudson, Dili, East Timor

WHY is it only at election time that Labor talks tough on border protection? In 2007 Kevin Rudd promised to turn back the boats. Now Julia Gillard promises an East Timor solution. Neither has any credibility.

Tim Tunbridge, Dee Why, NSW

JULIA Gillard needs to explain how her regional solution differs from the Pacific Solution she so deplored in opposition. At the moment she looks blatantly hypocritical - and rather confused.

Ann Crawford, Tynong, Vic

AUSTRALIANS who are xenophobic about asylum-seekers may not be "rednecks", but the leader of the opposition and his ilk who knowingly spread misinformation tailored to inflame those fears certainly are.

Tony Backhouse, Narraweena, NSW

THERE is nothing like border security to liven up the lunatic fringe, Left and Right. No, John Howard did not hate asylum-seekers, and no, boatpeople are not a national security issue. A little sanity in the debate would be refreshing.

Keith Mouatt, Richlands, Qld

ONCE again, this government shows that it lacks two qualities that matter: competence and courage.

I preferenced the ALP over the Liberal Party in 2007 because I believed that Labor would govern according to the values it professed to hold. Again and again it has traded those values for what it imagines is political expediency, though clearly it fails to take into account the associated loss of political capital it suffers through its so-called "pragmatism". It has consistently failed to demonstrate leadership, and instead runs constantly scared of the anxieties expressed to it through marginal-seat focus groups.

Gillard wants those of us with a social conscience to direct our preferences to Labor again this year. But why should we? Would a Liberal government be any more objectionable? At least the opposition makes no pretence about a social conscience.

Russell Marks, Thornbury, Vic

JULIA Gillard's East Timor asylum-seeker processing-centre thought bubble, buttressed by several preliminary phone calls, is reminiscent of her earlier flashes of policy inspiration shortly before elections: the deservedly lampooned Medicare Gold in 2004 and (as yet largely undelivered) computers in schools without any provision for operating costs last time.

Kevin Rudd was finally ousted after a litany of failures that daily spin and media stunts could no longer hide. After nearly three years of access to all the resources of government, his loyal deputy and successor has no excuse for further half-baked proposals.

Albert Gerber, Griffith, ACT

HERE we go again. Asylum-seekers are being used in a grotesque game of first-world political football. I'm surprised to see a person of Jose Ramos- Horta's standing being complicit in this latest version of the "Pacific Solution". Perhaps he has been hoodwinked too!

Jack Goode, Mount Barker, SA

GREG Sheridan ("Gillard shows Howard and Abbott were right", 7/7) says Julia Gillard's new line on "illegal immigrants" comprehensively vindicates John Howard, and he asks those who condemned Howard's policy to apologise.

Could Sheridan explain what has changed essentially for him since 2001 and the Tampa crisis? At that time he accused Howard of "crude domestic political calculation" ("Playing to the darkest fears of the psyche", 1/9/2001) and wrote that Australia "already had the harshest, cruellest, most punitive policy of dealing with asylum-seekers who arrived on our shores of any developed country" ("PM scores points with a popgun", 11/10/2001). I'd rather agree with that assessment than apologise.

Andrew Lynch, Claremont, WA

THE Prime Minister is correct in saying it is wrong to label people who have concerns about boatpeople as "rednecks". But if people think 24,000 boatpeople in 34 years, out of a total migrant intake for that period of more than 3 1/2 million, is a problem, it is also wrong to label them as "numerate".

If the level of basic arithmetic in the wider community is as bad as Labor strategists are obviously telling Julia Gillard it is, I can only conclude that she is pandering to the innumerate because she realises how badly their presence reflects on her time as minister for education.

Lloyd Swanton, Wentworth Falls, NSW

WHY all this fuss about refugees? Don't people realise that the people who are flooding our cities, inflating our real estate values and putting strains on our community facilities are the legal immigrants: 180,000 so far this year ? Why don't politicians mention the 50,000 overstayers who come by plane, not by boat ? Why not mention the uncontrolled access to Australia by New Zealanders?

We certainly need a population policy for sustainable development rather than a policy of scapegoating the most desperate. In any case refugees do not threaten our jobs: rather they will do the work that we do not want to do, just as poor migrants do all round the world.

John Addie, Ringwood East, Vic

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