CANBERRA – His name is Kevin Rudd ... and he's not here to help Malcolm Turnbull.
The former Labor Prime Minister -- still seething from not having the Turnbull Government's backing to go for the high-powered job of UN Secretary-General -- has written an opinion piece in Fairfax Media lashing Turnbull over plans to bring in a lifetime ban for boat refugees.
I've been silent in domestic policy debates for 3 yrs, but Turnbull's latest 'law' on refugees is beyond the pale: https://t.co/thLyrswpKi
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) November 1, 2016
In what's being described as his first significant foray into domestic politics since he lost office, Rudd has argued the Prime Minister is pandering to a "Hansonite insurgency" and is doing everything he could to appease the "mad right" of the Coalition.
Rudd has described the surprise announcement of plans to ban refugees held on Manus Island and Nauru from ever coming to Australia - even as tourists - as sinking to "new lows."
The proposed measure has renewed expectations of a third country deal to resettle the refugees in limbo and Federal Labor is under pressure to support the measure.
"Turnbull's latest legislative folly should be opposed," Rudd wrote.
"I have kept silent on Australian domestic policy debates for the past three years. But this one sinks to new lows.
"It is pure politics designed to appease the xenophobes."
Rudd said the Prime Minister had "now repudiated virtually everything he once stood for" in order to hang on to his job after a "near-death experience in the July election".
He accused Turnbull of appeasing "political thugs" like Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews and, "depending on which way the wind is blowing", Treasurer Scott Morrison.
But the former Prime Minister warns the far right will only be emboldened to "demand more, not less."
"This measure is about the politics of symbols, designed to throw red meat at the right, including the Hansonite insurgency, and to grovel to the broad politics of xenophobia," Rudd wrote.
"Turnbull, once an intelligent, global citizen, knows better."
One of the men described by Rudd as a "political thug", Eric Abetz has responded, saying Rudd's "bizarre intervention" is akin to the "arsonist returning to the scene of the crime."
— Political Alert (@political_alert) November 1, 2016
"Kevin Rudd created the mess and now he wants to help send a message to criminal people smugglers that they should be back in business," Abetz said in a statement.
"Under Mr Rudd, Australia lost control of its borders and we saw more than a thousand men, women and children drown at sea as well as a massive expansion to our detention centre network."
Rudd's bizarre border protection rant is like the arsonist returning to scene of the crime to berate the firemen: good line @SenatorAbetz
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) November 1, 2016
Abetz suggested Rudd should apologise instead of lecturing the current government.
Rudd stands by his intervention and insists he has the future of refugees in mind.
"It is without any policy merit in dealing with the real policy challenges all countries face today in what is now a global refugees crisis," Rudd wrote.
"And it does nothing to help those refugees left to rot for more than three years, who should be resettled now."