On February 2, Insiders began their commentary for 2014. As usual, they included a right wing voice for “balance”. This time it was Niki Savva from the Murdoch propaganda sheet, the Australian. Whilst she may be preferable to the vile Piers Ackerman, Ms Savva adds very little to critical analysis of our political scene as she regurgitates the Murdoch script – Labor bad, Tony good.
At the end of the show the guests are invited to make a final comment. Niki chose to sing the praises of Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop saying
“Apart from a few verbal snafus, I think Julie Bishop is doing a pretty good job. After a few turbulent years, finally Foreign Affairs have got someone who is polite, professional, hard-working and can make decisions, so they are very happy.”
So let’s have a look at a few of those “Situation Normal: All F*cked Up” moments.
Before the election, Ms Bishop and others infuriated Indonesia by insisting that we did not need their permission to drag asylum seekers back to their shores. The situation has deteriorated ever since with our Navy infringing on Indonesian territorial waters, and our refusal to apologise for spying on the Indonesian President, his wife, and several members of his cabinet.
We have also had to apologise to Malaysia for comments Tony Abbott made in June 2011 at a press conference with Scott Morrison suggesting asylum seekers would face human rights abuses if sent to Malaysia.
“Imagine taking boat people from Australia to Malaysia where they will be exposed almost inevitably to the prospect of caning and other very harsh treatment”
At his first major international conference as Prime Minister, Mr Abbott offered “an act of contrition” to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, apologising for the way Malaysia got caught up in “what was a very intense and at times somewhat rancorous debate in Australia.”
“He knows we play our politics pretty hard in our country and I think he understood.”
“I made it very clear to the prime minister that our opposition was never to Malaysia, it was to the former government,” he said.
And then we have Papua New Guinea.
“PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has launched a scathing attack on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, accusing him of spreading ”nonsense” and ”completely untrue” claims over foreign aid linked to the asylum seeker deal.
”I don’t particularly appreciate being misrepresented by others for their own political interests,” he said.
”I am disappointed with some of the debates put forward by some of the leaders in the opposition in Australia, in particular statements that I am alleged to have made to them which are completely untrue.”
We have also upset them by refusing to issue visas on arrival for PNG citizens coming to Australia, a move they have reciprocated.
“Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has expressed disappointment over Australia’s stand on the no visa on arrival for Papua New Guineans traveling to Australia.
He said the government cannot tell Australia what to do but would reciprocate and stand by its decision to terminate visa on arrival for Australia visitors to PNG.”
Not content with alienating our nearest neighbours, Ms Bishop, in her haste to ingratiate herself with her American counterpart, has infuriated China by siding with Japan in the escalating conflict over ownership of a few islands in the East China Sea.
And let’s not stop there. In a move that even America condemned, Ms Bishop has defended the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, even though they have been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. Palestine is justifiably upset at this sudden turnaround.
“AUSTRALIA has recalibrated its position on Israel and Palestine to ensure only “balanced” UN resolutions receive its support, says Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.
Australia this month abstained from two UN General Assembly resolutions; one condemning the expansion of Jewish settlements and another calling for the Geneva Convention to apply in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The resolution to end “all Israeli settlement activities in all of the occupied territories” was supported by 158 nations. Australia was one of only eight nations to abstain.
Australia was one of only five countries to abstain from calling for Israel to “comply scrupulously” with the 1949 Geneva Convention. The resolution was supported by 160 nations.
Ms Bishop said the shift “reflected the government’s concern that Middle East resolutions should be balanced”.
We have also alienated the global community by reversing action on climate change and reneging on our commitments to renewable energy and our promised contribution to the Green Energy fund.
So aside from pissing off Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, China, Palestine and the world, minor snafus according to Ms Savva, I guess you could say “Julie Bishop is doing a pretty good job.” At what I’m not sure. It appears Armani suits, pearl drop earrings and politeness are all it takes to make DFAT “very happy”.
PS Thank you to Fed Up for reminding me about Timor l’Este on whom we also spied and then raided their lawyer just before they took us to court for bugging trade negotiations. I also neglected to mention our active support for human rights abuses both there and in Sri Lanka.