IT seems to be a competition.
Which political leader can display greater toughness in dealing with border protection.
The glib often-repeated phrase "we stopped the boats" is now part of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's mantra.
On the opposite side, Opposition leader Bill Shorten, for a time pushed the Government on claims that it paid crews of boats carrying asylum seekers to turn back. That was, until it apparently became politically expedient for the Opposition to follow the "national security" line to avoid questions and answers.
Through all this discourse, being played out in repeatedly disruptive circumstances in our Federal Parliament, our political leaders seem oblivious to the fact that we are dealing with people. In many cases, desperate people fleeing oppression in other countries.
Locally, refugee advocates in our district communities are supporting Afghani asylum seekers, many from the oppressed Hazaras ethnic group, who are becoming worthy members of society nearby at Swan Hill.
Our political leaders seem to forget in all their tough rhetoric that they are dealing with people.