When the loser is described as the winner


Imagine a two-person race where one runner is more powerful than the other. In the first race as they run around the track the weaker runner (trailing well behind) calls out, “Please, can we have your Manus Island refugees?” “No,” is the swift reply. “I don’t take no for an answer,” wheezes the second runner, “I have got my big-girl pants on now, and I really must insist that you give us your Manus Island refugees.” “No,” replies the other runner, who by now has already finished the race and is sitting on the side line sipping a nice cool drink.

Sweating and exhausted the second runner crosses the finish line and smiles winningly. “This isn’t over,” she says between gasps for air. “I always get what I want and it is the moral thing to do.”

A couple of months later the two stand at the start of the second race. This time the weaker runner is wearing some really snazzy running gear and the photographers are really impressed and are taking lots of photos. She waves to her fans and makes a moving speech, talking about conversations and morals and poverddy and budget sustainability. It is a well-structured speech with considerable time spent on emphasising how well the two runners’ countries get on.

Then the race begins. Just like before the stronger runner finishes well in front and, just like before, the weaker runner continues to try to persuade the other runner to give her the Manus Island refugees.

Just like before the first runner says no.

At the end of the race the photographers and journalists circle. They declare the weaker runner to have won the day due to her superior speech and her lovely presentation. Sitting in her media shade the stronger runner simply smiles and takes a long cool sip of his iced drink.


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