A couple of things are going on with this government. One is specific approach to policy, one is the ideological approach. Sometimes the specific can be driven by the ideological. Work visas for example. You cut visas, you slow the economy.
But the ideological is harder to measure. Andrew Little's three strikes decision is a classic. Of course we'll see, in time, how the out-workings present themselves. But for now, it's driven by nothing more than his very broad, ideological statement that putting people in prison doesn't work? Doesn't it?
I think it seems to work. Crime is down, and we've never had more people in prison. And when they're in prison, they don't commit crime.
But in the really ideological category, and dare I suggest wandering into the nutty category, is James Shaw's plan for climate change visas. So in other words, a fisherman from Tuvalu, for example, can apply to come here because climate change has wrecked his fishing grounds and he needs to set up camp here. You can see the minefield being created here. Work visas are comparatively simple. Do you have skills we need, yes or no?
But how do you judge climate change? And how is it you justify cutting immigration on work and student visas, visas that actually contribute to the country and its economy, while at the same time boosting other visas that in all likelihood will contribute nothing?
Who judges climate change? How much do you need to be affected before you get the nod to come here? What if English is your second language and you have no skill other than tossing a fishing net; or worse, you don't actually work but the tide is lapping at your door in Kiribati?
What possible gain does this country get, and how is the hurdle justified?
And given the justification is so loose and rubbery, doesn't that in effect open our doors for every man and his dog from the Pacific to lob up and hit welfare on day one?
If the bloke from Tuvalu can successfully convince the James Shaws of this world that his livelihood is stuffed because of climate change, that precedent is surely then applicable to everyone on that island. The Tuvalu prime minister has been banging on for years about his country sinking. Are they on their way here? Is that what Shaw has in mind?
That is one massive Pandora's box, and a good example of the dangers of blind ideology that ultimately we will all regret.