Would Tony Abbott have ordered the Royal Australian Navy to send this child back to Indonesia?
That's what the Opposition Leader suggested yesterday when asked how he would have dealt with the latest asylum vessel in distress far off WA.
"Obviously I wasn't on the spot yesterday but those commanders on the spot under our policy would have had the option of turning that boat around," Mr Abbott said. "Under the Government's policy all they can do is bring people to Australia.
"Well, that's absolutely the wrong message to be sending to the people smugglers and their customers." Government sources said there were about 30 children on the boat.
One man on the vessel had a heart attack and was given first aid by navy personnel. Another was treated for epilepsy.
During last week's farcical debate about the Government's Malaysia Solution, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey shed tears as he vowed never to back any plan that could see children deported to Kuala Lumpur.
"I will never, ever support a people swap where you can send a 13-year-old child unaccompanied to a country without supervision. Never. It will be over my dead body," Mr Hockey blubbered.
So will Mr Hockey or anyone else in the coalition cabinet room challenge their leader should Mr Abbott order some hapless patrol boat captain to tow another vessel full of kids and sick men and women back to Indonesia?
And what would have been the fate of this child had Julia Gillard's Malaysia Solution been made law?
A Government spokesman suggested yesterday the child and her parents might not have been sent to Kuala Lumpur.
But the Government can't be explicit. To do so would invite the people smugglers to cram asylum boats with as many children and mothers as possible.When it comes to asylum seekers, our politicians have proved themselves incompetents, liars and hypocrites.