Kevin Rudd has delivered a stinging attack on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, accusing him of sinking to a new low on refugee policy.
Mr Rudd has accused Mr Turnbull of trying to appease the right of the Liberal party with his latest plan to ban some asylum seekers from entering Australia.
The former Labor prime minister, who has kept quiet on domestic policy issues for the past three years, argues the proposal to stop people arriving by boat from ever obtaining a visa is a new low and should be opposed.
“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,” Mr Rudd wrote in an opinion piece published in Fairfax Media papers on Wednesday.
Mr Rudd described the Coalition’s plan as “legislative folly”.
“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,” he wrote.
“This is both bad policy and bad politics: on policy, the far right in Australia represent the worst of the xenophobic, nationalist and protectionist wave that we now see raging across Europe and America; while on politics, appeasement of political thugs like Abbott, Dutton, Abetz, Andrews and, depending on which way the wind is blowing, Morrison, only embolden the far right to demand more, not less.
“And it does nothing to help those refugees left to rot for more than three years, who should be resettled now.”
Mr Rudd argued a 2013 deal he struck with Papua New Guinea to process refugees through Manus Island was only meant to run for a year.
“This July 2013 policy was conceived as a mechanism to break the gathering momentum of the people-smuggling industry,” he wrote.
The opinion piece unleashed some astonished reactions on social media.
— Stavros (The Cat) (@alias_burgerboy) November 1, 2016
Kevin Rudd outraged at Turnbull's refugee ban? Today might be even funnier than yesterday
— Grab my Dags (@noplaceforsheep) November 1, 2016
— John Lutge (@JohnLutge) November 1, 2016
The Coalition deliberately misrepresented it as a permanent measure, Mr Rudd added.
Mr Rudd also criticised the government for a failed refugee resettlement agreement with Cambodia and for refusing to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees.