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No News is Good News – Abbott’s Trip to Indonesia a Great Success

TONY Abbott says he wants to “bring on” Indonesian joint ventures to buy Australian cattle as he defended Indonesian abattoirs as being “quite comparable” to those in Australia.

Wrapping up his two-day visit to Indonesia, the Prime Minister also said both nations were united in wanting to stop asylum seeker boats because the issue was “bad for both countries”.

He said it was a “border security nightmare” for Australia while Indonesia suffered from tens of thousands of people coming through their country “and not necessarily up to much good while they’re here”. #

* * *

Mr Abbott refused to specifically say if the leaders discussed the turn back the boats policy and the plan to buy Indonesian boats and help pay for information about people sugglers but said he stood by his policies.

“I am not going to spill the beans on discussions which necessarily should be confidential if they’re to be as constructive and collegial and as candid as they need to be between trusted partners,” he said.

The Herald-Sun, October 1st, 2013

#Emphasis added.

“Media stunned. Abbott not the bungler in Indonesia they falsely claimed”

Andrew Bolt The Herald-Sun, October 2nd, 2013

So let’s see if I have this right. Abbott went to the election announcing policies to turn back boats, buy Indonesian fishing boats and pay locals for information. It was argued that these policies would be opposed by Indonesia and that they were simplistic. Abbott is elected. He goes to Indonesia, says things that they agree with, tells them that we over-reacted when banning live cattle exports, agrees that people smuggling is a problem for both countries and talks about the need for greater trade between the countries. Did he discuss the issues of disagreement? Can’t say, some things need to be confidential.

And this is being hailed as a great success?

Well, I suppose that it wasn’t a failure. After all, he didn’t tell any of the Indonesians that their daughters had sex appeal. Unlike the AFL Grand Final Breakfast, where he didn’t seem to be aware that Fitzroy Football Club ceased to exist as an AFL club last century, he didn’t refer to Indonesia as the Dutch East Indies. He wasn’t thrown out of the country, so that’s a plus. But there doesn’t seem to be any announcement of any trade deal. Apparently, twenty businessmen went with him – were they taxpayer funded or is that only for weddings? Perhaps they had some success. Apparently, he raised the cases of the Bali 9, and nobody is suggesting that this may lead to their immediate execution or a lengthening of their sentences, so they should be very grateful.

A few days ago, it was being reported that the Australian Navy picking up asylum seekers from a sinking boat and returning them to the Indonesians was an example of “turning back” a boat. If anyone looks at the details, this becomes a little more complicated. They were picked up in Indonesian waters in response to a distress call. Under maritime law, ships can return rescued people to the nearest port. It’s what the captain of the Tampa tried to do in 2001, but we ignored international protocols and refused to take them.

All in all, it seems that nothing much has changed after the visit, so I guess Abbott’s supporters see that as a win. Of course, it does seem to be the way the media is judging everything else he’s doing. “People said he’d do a lot of damage if he became PM, and he’s hardly done anything. What a great job so far!”

I guess it reminds me of an old joke about which ends with, “He’s like a dog chasing cars, he wouldn’t know what to do with it if he ever caught one.” Abbott won the election, but, so far, he seems a bit unsure about what to do with it, and we’re being encouraged to see every day where nothing happens as an example of the restraint and thoughtfulness of the new government.

Ah well, at least the emergency is over, and we don’t have to worry when Hockey raises the debt ceiling above $300 billion.


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