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Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Staring into the Syrian Abyss

By Allan Patience

The insanity of the proposal that Australia should commence bombing raids inside Syrian territory is beyond belief. Our belligerent prime minister insists that the initiative for this development came from none other than President Obama himself. Other reports suggest that Australia has actually put pressure on America, obliging it to issue an official request to join in the US military’s air strikes against the Islamic State’s (IS) bases across the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Whether it was President Obama or Tony Abbott who is responsible for the Australian government’s sudden interest in staring into the Syrian abyss, the hope is that wiser heads will prevail. Australia has much to lose and nothing of strategic significance to win by expanding its already dubious role in this appalling conflict.

There are four immediately obvious reasons why the Abbott government should resist the American “request.”

First, the current crisis in Iraq and Syria (and it’s spreading to other parts of the Middle East), ghastly as it is in every respect, is overwhelmingly the result of America and its allies’ strategic interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the dark days of George W. Bush’s presidency. For all the allied blood and treasure that has been so recklessly thrown into those conflicts, no end to them is in sight and on any measure their objectives have been routinely ending in failure.

Iraq is now in the grip of several murderous civil conflicts, largely between Sunni and Shiite forces. Afghanistan is an ugly confusion of Taliban and tribal conflicts and increasingly corrupt and malevolent politicians intent on feathering their own nests before the inevitable collapse of their puny government. These have provided IS with myriad opportunities to inject its merciless jihadists across the region, to its enormous strategic advantage.

This is a mess entirely of the West’s making and its only solution is for the West to butt out and leave it to the locals to sort themselves out. Of course this will result in horrendous bloodshed and brutality; but this is already happening and no matter what the West does, it is clearly incapable of stopping it.

Second, by placing itself at the side of the Americans in Iraq and Syria, the Australians are inviting and inflaming the absolutely visceral hatred of actual and would-be jihadists, both domestically and in Southeast Asia (especially in Indonesia and Malaysia). Far from minimizing potential “home grown” attacks from extremists, and from terrorist groups outside the country, our involvement with the United States in what is a doomed strategy against IS will only make things worse for us at home and abroad.

Third, the craven Australian desire to always be seen as a “loyal” ally dependent on the United States reached its use-by date long ago. The ANZUS treaty remains an instrument whose efficacy has always been determined, first and foremost, by what is in America’s interests, not Australia’s. As Malcolm Fraser argued so well last year, it is time for Australia to extricate itself from its “dangerous ally.” Just as Canada has been able to quietly avoid US pressure to join it in most of its numerous military adventures since the end of World War II and the Cold War (e.g., the Vietnam War and the Iraq War), so Australia should be now be aware that its security is not guaranteed by the treaty.

Indeed, increasingly, Australia’s national interests are at odds with the alliance with the US. Given that our security is totally bound up with what occurs in our geo-political region (East and Southeast Asia), our misplaced loyalty to the US (as opposed to being a mature and independent friend) results in our being an awkward partner in our region, not a trusted regional player.

Fourth, the actual cost of the deployment of Australian troops and materiel in the Middle East is an utterly perverse squandering of taxpayers’ funds. The monies should in fact be used for large-scale aid projects in places like Indonesia to counter the appeal of jihadist recruiters while improving Australia’s diplomacy with its neighbouring states to advance moves for finding regional solutions to problems like people smugglers and terrorists.

Australia must not expand its military deployment from Iraq into Syria. It is time to pull back from the abyss. Abbott and his defence and foreign ministers must eschew further involvement in a conflict that has no reasonable end in sight. Indeed diplomatic talks should now be under way to advise the Americans that Australia is withdrawing all of its soldiers and materiel from the Middle East completely.

Who knows, this might even lead to the Americans realizing that its strategies have been, and remain, futile, and that it too should withdraw from the conflict.

Allan Patience is a principal fellow in the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne. He has held chairs in politics and Asian studies in universities in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Japan. 

Fool me once….

Watching the Abbott government is like watching the rerun of a movie with the same script but worse actors.

Consider Howard in 2001 as he approached an election.  The government had performed very badly in opinion polls and a series of by-elections throughout 2001, largely due to a slump in the dollar and loss of business confidence.

In late August, a Norwegian ship, the MV Tampa, picked up 440 stranded asylum-seekers when their boat sank in the Indian Ocean. The Tampa planned to bring the boat people to Australia in accordance with their wishes, but the Howard government refused to allow the ship access to an Australian port. The issue of border protection gained strong prominence, as unauthorised migration had been increasing for some years.

The former second-in-command of the SAS counter-terrorism squad, Labor MP Peter Tinley, said sending SAS troops in to deal with the Tampa was a complete overreaction.

“I can’t help but feel the PM John Howard viewed the SAS as something that would resonate politically to the message of border security,” he said.  “You can’t amp it up more in the public’s mind than saying ‘We’re going to send in the SAS, we’ll show you how tough we are on border security’.”

The former head of Military Public Affairs, Brigadier Gary Bornholt, says the asylum seekers on board were never a threat to Australia.

“In Defence it wasn’t a big deal, because these numbers of people were very, very small and that’s why they didn’t represent a security threat,” he said.

This was followed by public allegations by Howard government ministers in October 2001, in the lead-up to a federal election, that seafaring asylum seekers had thrown children overboard in a presumed ploy to secure rescue and passage to Australia.

The Australian Senate Select Committee for an inquiry into a certain maritime incident later found that no children had been at risk of being thrown overboard and that the government had known this prior to the election. The government was criticised for misleading the public and cynically “(exploiting) voters’ fears of a wave of illegal immigrants by demonising asylum-seekers”.

Although reports indicated that the strain of being towed was the proximate cause of the asylum seeker boat eventually sinking, in 2007, John Howard asserted that the asylum seekers “irresponsibly sank the damn boat, which put their children in the water”.

The government’s handling of this and other events involving unauthorised arrivals worked to its advantage. The Tampa affair had led the government to adopt stricter border protection measures to prevent unauthorised arrivals from reaching Australia by boat. Polls indicated the measures had public support. The government was able to portray itself as “strong” on border protection measures and its opponents as “weak”.

When it came to information made public by the Defence Department, former head of publicity Jenny McKenry revealed details were carefully filtered.

“We were told that there was to be nothing in the public forum which would humanise these people. We were quite stunned,” she said.

In addition, on 11 September, the Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon thrust national security to the forefront of the election campaign. Howard, who was in Washington at the time, immediately committed to unqualified support for George W. Bush.

”Certainly, being on the spot had a powerful effect on me. I knew how shocked and bewildered the Americans were, although everybody was very calm. Everybody understood that this was a game-changer.”

The day after the attack Howard flew back to Australia with US Ambassador Tom Schieffer on Air Force Two, the Vice President’s aircraft, which had been made available to him. After a telephone conversation with his Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, while “high above the Pacific Ocean”, Howard informed Schieffer that, for the first time in 50 years, the ANZUS Treaty would be invoked. In America’s hour of need Australia would not stand idly by. Shortly after, President Bush announced the War on Terror and signalled that a war with Afghanistan was not far off.

The “legally nonsensical” – to use Robert Garran’s phrase – but symbolically rich decision to invoke the ANZUS Treaty resembled more a romantic, feudal oath of fealty than a coolly considered diplomatic act. From that moment until the present day, during the war on Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and now the fight against IS, Australia would prove itself to be the most impeccably faithful ally of the US in the War on Terror.

According to the US National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice, Australia “clamoured”, as it turned out successfully, to be invited to participate in the invasion force. The moment John Howard had been waiting for during his entire political life had finally arrived.

Canberra bombarded us with tales of Iraq’s vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction; Iraq’s well-developed nuclear plans; Saddam’s links with Osama bin Laden; the Saddam–Hitler analogy; the irrelevance of the UN; the perfidy of the French; the futility of weapons inspections.

The immediate reaction in the polls included a record high approval rating for a Liberal prime minister and overwhelming support for committing Australian troops to Afghanistan – a fact that did not slip by Tony Abbott who was himself in danger of losing his seat of Warringah to a very good independent in the upcoming election.

Fears of terrorism were mixed in with the asylum seeker debate – a ploy criticised by the retired Commander of Australian Theatre with the Navy, Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie.

“It seemed to me to be a funny way to get to Australia if you were a terrorist. There are other easier ways to get into Australia than spend six months in Nauru,” he said.

The polls turned around considerably by election day on November 10, 2001 and the Howard government won a third term convincingly.

Ironically, at the time, the Australian Wheat Board was paying bribes to the Iraqi government.  The Howard government either knew what was happening and is covering it up or was guilty of culpable negligence and incompetence.

Abbott’s script is identical even though his backdrops are flashier (or is that flaggier),  even down to begging to be the first to go fight and a disturbing willingness to hand over money to corrupt regimes.  I can only hope that Abbott’s rerun gets panned by the critics and that voters walk out on his theatre of terror.  Fool me once….

To paraphrase our Prime Minister for fear and loathing:

The voters are coming for the government with a simple message: we will not “submit”.  You can’t negotiate with a government like this. You can only fight it.

The Maintenance of Madness: How Australia Funded a Warlord in Afghanistan

The Federal Cabinet has approved the deployment of about 300 additional Australian troops to the Middle East to help train Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State. The deployment will be for two years from the middle of may, and the troops join 200 existing special forces troops already in deployment in the region.

The Australian contingent will be joined by more than 100 New Zealand military personnel. They will be based at Taji military complex north of Baghdad, which is considered an “enduring base” by the United States Military, one of 14 such bases in the country.

Prime Minister Abbott made statements regarding the deployment at a press conference on the 3rd of March this year.

“We won’t have a combat role. It’s a training mission, not a combat mission. This is not just about Iraq, this is about our national security.”

A casual glance at the history of conflict in the Middle East will show that military intervention does not, as the government claims, increase national security, in fact it performs the exact opposite function, creating heavily armed and motivated militia groups with the spurious justification of prior Western aggression for their continued aggression.

Defence Department secretary Dennis Richardson has let it slip that highly trained military personnel, likely indirectly trained by US or Coalition forces, make up the leadership of ISIS:

“[ISIS] is led by experienced former Iraqi generals and others with substantial military experience.”

ISIS is, in effect, the current incarnation of AQI, or Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a branch of the central body of Al-Qaeda with links to Osama Bin Laden and notable members of the terrorist organisation. Older readers and the more historically astute will remember that the United States was responsible for training and arming mujahideen forces against the then Soviet Union during its war in Afghanistan, including Bin Laden and his compatriots, who later became instrumental in forming the modern day iteration of Al-Qaeda.

The official reason for deployment is to help the Iraqi government prepare sufficient forces to maintain the momentum of the counter-attack against Islamic State and regain control of its territory.

Abbott noted that Australian personnel will “not be working with irregulars, we don’t work with informal, armed groups.”

It turns out that this statement is entirely false and doesn’t accord with the documentary record.

Around November 2010, under the then Gillard government, six senior militia fighters loyal to Afghan warlord Matiullah Khan were flown to Australia to train with elite special forces as part of a “covert strategy to strengthen military operations against the Taliban.”

Matiullah Khan is known in the press as “Australia’s biggest ally in Afghanistan”. His uncle is former Uruzgan governor Jan Mohammed Khan, who has a reputation for corruption, brutality and double dealing.

In a few short years he went from being a taxi driver to a millionaire running security for NATO convoys in the area. He was appointed chief of police in Uruzgan province, despite numerous allegations of human rights abuses. There are reports that he has dealings with drug smugglers and Taliban insurgents.

We have contracted with his private army, Kandak Amniante Uruzgan, to provide security services to the bases around his compound in the Uruzgan province.

Under an arrangement with the Ministry of the Interior, the Australian Government pays for roughly 600 of Matiullah’s 1,500 fighters, including Matiullah himself, despite the fact that the force is not under government control or oversight.

Matiullah Kahn was killed in Kabul earlier this year in March by a suicide bomber.

From the Pakistani Daily Times:

“Khan’s militia has been involved in mass murder, rape and abductions of men and women.

The New York Times reported that he was earning $ 2.5 million a month through highway robbery, abduction, drug trafficking and extortion. Once, Khan warned his opponents that he could eliminate them by purchasing suicide bombers with the money he received from the Australian army.

WikiLeaks of the US embassy pinned him as a stand-over merchant, a wealthy warlord and drug trafficker.

Australian intelligence knew he was a corrupt war criminal but, despite the US army’s opposition, the Australian army and intelligence corps lobbied to make him an inspector general of the Uruzgan police in 2011.”

From Green Left Weekly, citing a story published in the Dutch Daily, De Pers:

“The extent of Matiullah’s brutality was shown in a massacre reported on by the July 18 Dutch daily De Pers.

The paper said the previous month, Matiullah’s army made a surprise attack on a meeting of 80 people in Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province. Five people were killed in the ensuing shootout.

The remaining 75 were knifed to death.

Mohammed Daoud, the district chief of Chora, told De Pers: “As torture, they were first stabbed in the shoulders and legs. The corpses were treated with chemicals to make them unrecognisable.””

In this interview released several days before his death, the contents of Matiullah’s office suite are described as containing “plaques of appreciation from the Australian Federal Police” and a “boxed boomerang – a gift from Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, formerly head of the Australian Defence Force.

From the same interview, detailing a raid on a nearby village by Jan Mohammed Khan and Matiullah Khan:

“One man told me how his son was made to lie on the ground – and then they drove a truck over his head.”

These accounts are horrifying, and our complicity in them more so. Indirect involvement in these abuses, though despicable, could be rationalised as a product of the idea that we are working towards some greater good, and indeed, it seems this is the justification for our involvement from many of the sources mentioned in the above interview and publications.

Our direct involvement in war crimes in the region however, cannot be rationalised away.

Reports from The Age in 2009 describe cover-ups by the ADF of attacks on civilians by SAS soldiers in Iraq around 2006-7. The attacks in November 2007 resulted in the murders of three men, two women and one child in a house that allegedly belonged to an insurgent.

In the same month, the newspaper reported the use of SAS patrols as death squads, carrying out assassinations in Afghanistan.

One has to ask the question: how exactly does action of this sort confer an increase in our national security? If the Iraqi military is to be trained by the same forces responsible for the financial support of a local warlord and who have engaged in war crimes of their own, I don’t see it as unreasonable to suppose that ethics and adherence to international law will be covered as an afterthought, if at all.

The approach of fighting fire with fire has been an abject failure in stemming the tide of radicalised Islamic extremism in the Middle Eastern theatre, and this new deployment of troops into the region is simply more of the same.

We cannot hope to bring peace to the Middle East with the sword.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog, which you can find here.

Some questions hang over the allegations by Larry Pickering

This is the latest email doing the rounds, courtesy of none other than something Larry Pickering dreamed up. It carries an outrageous headline: UP TO 80% OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE AFGHANI ARMY DESERTERS.

Now for the email:

“Most illegal immigrants flooding into Australia without papers are composed of Afghani Army personnel”, an employee connected to Christmas Island has claimed.

The processing centre at Christmas Island is being manipulated by corrupt Iranian and Afghani interpreters who advise the army deserters to say they are lowly farmers.

Australian Officials, suspicious of their claims, have been jetting these dodgy detainees in their hundreds to the infamous Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia.

The Centre, described as the “Hell Hole” is in a remote area 2,000, kilometres north of Perth.

Designed to hold 1400 of the most violent and suspect detainees, it was recently all but vacated after the disease Guillain-Barré syndrome broke out affecting locals.

In April 2010, the Rudd government decided to reopen the “horror centre” for what he termed “single male asylum seekers”, and those who fall within the category of, “do not process”.

In charge of security is Serco Plc, a UK publicly listed company, the Asia-Pacific arm of which has been contracted to the Australian Government.

It has each Australian employee on signed confidentiality agreements.

Serco has usurped billions of Australian taxpayer funds, mostly wasted on renting material and white goods that could be purchased outright for the cost of one week’s rent.

Marquees and air conditioning units are ready and rented at $10,000 per week in lots of ten to cater for the expected overflow from Christmas Island.

At least three passenger airliners are chartered permanently to shuffle detainees between centres. As few as three detainees at a time are flown into the Curtin Centre, claimed one employee.

Describing their company Serco Plc said: “We provide catering, recreation, education and excursions, manage accommodation, facilities, maintenance, transport and logistics, security, training and procurement. Our employees look after thousands of people in locations all over Australia, responding to their cultural, religious and individual needs.” Mmmm.

Of most concern is the whereabouts of the 1,000 unprocessed illegal Curtin detainees who have now been dispersed to Australian cities.

“These blokes are rock-hard fit and looking for trouble”, said one Curtin employee.

Sam (not her real name) is a small part Aboriginal girl once employed by Serco.

She is too frightened to talk but an angry relative explained that Sam’s job was to escort groups of these men to Canberra and Melbourne.

They were taken to holding centres before being given bridging visas and were then dispersed into the community, legally unable to work.

After six trips Sam resigned because of the sexual abuse she suffered. Traumatised, she is now living back with her family in Derby.

Enquiries from Derby to Broome, including Police stations have been met with a terse “no comment.”

“Waste is rampant”, said one local. “Tradespeople are charging up to $10 a kilometre to drive to and from the Centre to fix a washer on a tap”.

“I was charging $2 a kilometre until I found out what the other guys were charging, so I put my bill in at $10 per kilometre and they never said a word, they seem to just pay whatever you invoice them for”.

“If one (of the detainees) gets a toothache or anything, someone has to come out from Derby and take them back for treatment. It’s often hours waiting before they are ready to go back”.

“We are not allowed phones there”, said another ex-employee, “but I tested the phones available to the detainees and I could phone anywhere in the world”.

Another informant said that the local Derby refrigeration store, Lindsay Howard, was robbed of thousands of dollars of equipment which somehow found its way to the Curtin Centre on rental agreements. “Nothing came of it”, he said.

“It seems this Serco mob spends more time covering stuff up than doing their job here”.

So us Aussies can look forward to another tranche of thousands of Islamic Afghani army deserters soon to be scattered unprocessed throughout our communities.

Meanwhile, the Gillard Government equivocates over whether legitimate Afghani interpreters, currently risking their lives to assist our army in Afghanistan, should be allowed entry.

They are marked men once we leave. Bloody good eh?

Asylum seekers, my arse!

Let’s have a look at the real figures, which show that Pickering is lying:

At January 31, 2013, 47 per cent of detainees were Sri Lankan nationals, 13 per cent from Iran and 11 per cent from Afghanistan.

Of those in community detention, the largest group were Iranian nationals (34 per cent), followed by Sri Lankans (18 per cent) and Afghan nationals (15 per cent).

It’s fairly hard to work out how 80% of of the illegal immigrant can be Afghani army deserters when Afghans make up only 11% of all detainees. But then, do you really expect Pickering to be honest?

So the first question to Pickering is: “Why have you lied”.

Here are some more questions to Pickering:

  • Do you have evidence that Australian officials are suspicious of their claims?
  • If each Australian employee has signed a confidentiality agreement, why are you risking the security of one of them by broadcasting your statement? In particular, this fellow might be having sleepless nights because of you: “These blokes are rock-hard fit and looking for trouble”, said one Curtin employee. Really, it wouldn’t be too hard for the employer to have this poor person identified.
  • How have billions of dollars been usurped by Serco from the Australian Government? What evidence do you have?
  • Who was traumatising ‘Sam’? Am I to assume it’s the 80% of illegal immigrants who are Afghani army deserters?
  • What enquiries were made to police stations, and which stations? What questions did you ask that encouraged a terse “no comment”.
  • How did you know which locals to talk to? Did anybody really speak to them?
  • Who stole goods off of Lindsay Howard and more importantly, how did he know that they turned up inside the Curtin Centre?
  • Do you have evidence the Gillard Government equivocates over whether legitimate Afghani interpreters should be allowed entry?
  • Why has this story only been published on yours and similar sites, word for word?

One thing that intrigues me is why an informant would single out Pickering to publish his or her story. Why wouldn’t they approach somebody with credibility?

Larry Pickering, as I have written before, has none.

So my last question to Larry Pickering is: “Did you make all this up?”

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An Abbott in the Lodge – NEVER

An Abbott in the Lodge – Never

In my collaborative piece with Miglo – Michael Taylor titled “An Abbott in the Lodge – Never” and subsequently re posted as Its still “never”.

It’s worth a read if you haven’t already.

We explored in that piece the character and qualifications of the leader of the opposition Tony Abbott, reflecting along the way on his suitability to lead our our nation at the highest level.

Over the years in my Facebook discussions with supporters of Mr Abbott I have on numerous occasions requested them to name five of his personal characteristics that would eminently qualify him for this illustrious title. I have never received one.

So let’s not kid ourselves here. Leadership is important. Around the world there is much debate as to whether people have lost faith in our institutions (of all complexities) and the lack of inspirational leadership.

We must demand the highest standards of our leaders and we must have available the information that will enable us to make judgement on their character. That is the purpose of this post. In addition to what is contained in our original post I hope this helps you form a judgement. If you agree share it with others.

This is a laundry list of Tony Abbott’s gaffes since June 2010 so they’re not forgotten. It’s also intended to help journalists frame questions if and when Tony Abbott fronts up for interviews. His gaffes are more than getting a word wrong, or slipping up on a date. Cumulatively, they demonstrate that Tony Abbott is not fit to be PM or represent Australia on the world stage. Between June 2010 and March 2013 Abbott insulted, offended or annoyed to varying degrees Africans, Irish, Indonesians, Chinese, Finns and Luxembourgers.

Here is a list of Tony Abbott gaffes as shown in the original post (as linked).

Aug 2010

Abbott offended thousands of people with disabilities by suggesting that discussions in parliament about accessibility were a waste of time.

Sept 2010

Abbott misread Andrew Wilkie during the post-election negotiations about which party the independents would support to form government. Wilkie rejected a billion dollar offer from Abbott to build a hospital, labelling it as over the top and irresponsible.

Oct 2010

Abbott turned down an offer by PMJG to visit troops in Afghanistan with her on his way to UK. He said that he wanted to arrive fresh in the UK for meetings with the UK Conservative government which drew criticism from many, including the mother of a soldier who died in Afghanistan: “It’s all about him”. Abbott went to Afghanistan later in October. Despite him asking the ADF not to do so, photos of him firing machine guns were released. Neil Mitchell labelled him a dill, adding: “He looks like a schoolboy playing with guns . . . This is not a game. This is war and Australians have died. Guns are dangerous and our soldiers carry them to protect themselves. Tony Abbott didn’t need a gun.

Dec 2010

At a press conference, Tony Abbott refers to NBN as “essentially a video entertainment system.”

Feb 2011

At the time of the QLD flood crisis, Abbott rejected PMJG’s proposal for a flood levy, a decision seen by some Liberals as ”hamfisted and half-cocked”. To make it worse, Abbott emailed Liberal party-members asking for campaign contributions to fight ALP’s proposed

April 2013

Arranged by month, may not be chronological flood levy on the same day that cyclone Yasi bore down on NorthQLD.

Feb 2011

Mark Riley interview with bizarre sight of Abbott speechless for extended period of time with his head nodding after being asked about his ‘shit happens’ remark in Afghanistan.

Mar 2011

Abbott, having called for a ‘people’s revolt’, was reluctant to address assembled crowds displaying signs saying “Ditch the Witch” and the like, for fear of being judged by keeping such company. But he did address them and has been judged accordingly – despite claiming he didn’t see the worst of the signs even though he was alongside them in some pics.

April 2011

While in Whyalla, Abbott claims it will be wiped off the map by the introduction of carbon tax, risks becoming a ghost town and an economic wasteland.

May 2011

Reports of tensions in the Liberal party, caused by Abbott making announcements that embarrassed and undermined Joe Hockey in the lead up to the budget and ending up with a slanging match between them.

June 2011

NZ Prime Minister Key visited Australia and Abbott breaks convention by inserting domestic politics into his welcoming speech, he congratulated Key for ”dramatically watering down” the emissions trading scheme his government inherited.

June 2011

Ireland’s ambassador to Australia and leading members of the Irish community complained after Abbott told a not very funny Irish joke during a speech. Prof Ronan McDonald, Chair in Modern Irish Studies at the University of New South Wales said “The ‘stupid Irish’ joke might get a laugh in a Bradford comedy club circa 1973, but seems astoundingly ill-judged coming from an aspiring world leader in 2011″. Abbott apologised to the ambassador.

July 2011

Abbott wins the Sans Science comment of the month award for his ignorant comments (he said much the same thing on different occasions) in relation to how CO emissions are calculated: “It’s actually pretty hard to do this because carbon dioxide is invisible and it’s weightless and you can’t smell it.”

Nov 2011

President Obama visits Canberra. Abbott makes a speech in parliament and cannot resist taking a swipe at the government rather than remain apolitical as per convention on such occasions. Some Liberal MPs were . . . unhappy. “We were squirming in our seats” one said.

Jan 2012

Abbott jokes on radio ‘Well, that was one boat that did get stopped, wasn’t it” about the Costa Concordia. Somewhat insensitive, as 11people were dead and 21 people missing. He later apologises but qualifies it by saying ALP should recognise banter.

Mar 2012

Abbott apologises for saying in question time that PMJG has a target on her forehead.

May 2012

When in WA, Abbott agrees with WA premier that WA gets too little of the GST pie. In response to outcry that ensues from elsewhere in the country, in particular Tasmania, he has to backtrack.

May 2012

Tony Abbott distinguishes himself by running out of parliament to avoid his vote being counted, after Craig Thomson – he of the tainted vote – indicated he would be voting with the Coalition.

June 2012

Abbott says effect of carbon pricing will be a python squeeze rather than a cobra strike on the economy. This was of course utter nonsense as has become obvious over time, adding to the perception that what he says can’t be believed.

July 2012

Abbott goes to China. He is photographed shaking hands with Chinese dignitaries; it looks very awkward.

July 2012

Abbott makes a speech in China which is widely criticised. A Herald Sun article by Steve Price is headlined “Abbott’s visit like a bull in a china shop”. It takes weeks of ‘clarification’ to calm it down.

Aug 2012

Leigh Sales interview during which Abbott denied reading BHP statement when commenting on BHP, and falsely claiming that carbon tax was the reason it was reducing investment.

May 2012

Lisa Wilkinson interview where Abbott says PMJG still has questions to answer on the AWU/Slater & Gordon issue from about 1995. He can’t articulate any questions, didn’t watch the marathon presser where PMJG took questions for almost an hour and didn’t read its transcript in 2012.

On 2GB radio Abbott says “our Prime Minister should not be swanning around in New York talking to Africans, she should be in Jakarta, right now, trying to sort out the border protection disaster”. He said she should be in Jakarta talking to President Yudhoyono. This was at a time when PMJG was attending UN meetings as were the Indonesian President and Foreign Minister. What he said was offensive to African nations as well as plain stupid.

Sept 2012

Abbott says what he offers the Australian people is “a return to economic growth” ignoring the fact that Australia has had 21 consecutive years of economic growth.

Oct 2012

Australia wins a seat on UN’s Security Council. Before the ballot Tony Abbott says “If Australia can’t come first or second in a three-horse race involving Finland and Luxembourg, there’s something wrong with us . . . Let’s face it, it shouldn’t be too hard to win a race against Finland and Luxembourg.” Hardly appropriate words for someone seeking to represent Australia in international forums with world leaders.

Oct 2012

In question time during a speech about Peter Slipper, Abbott says that the ALP government should be dying of shame, echoing Alan Jones’ comment of the previous month that PMJG’s father died of shame. Maybe not said purposely but if not, where is Abbott’s presence of mind, acuity, that he used the phrase at all?

Oct 2012

Abbott demonstrates that he is unable to understand a WA electricity bill, claiming carbon price led to more than doubling of cost of electricity when in fact it was apparent from a bar chart on the bill that power usage had doubled.

Oct 2012

Visiting a family home in Indonesia, Abbott puts his foot, complete with shoe, on the table near a bowl of food. So rude it’s hard to know where to start: BODY LANGUAGE AND BEHAVIOUR many western modes of behaviour and body language are taboo in Indonesia. Be very aware of how you act in the presence of Indonesians in all situations. Some general rules to follow –

Never show the sole of your foot or point your toe at someone.

Keep both feet on the floor when sitting, don’t cross your legs.

Nov 2012

Lisa Wilkinson interview where she challenges Abbott on his strident claims that he can bring power prices down. Soon becomes clear that he’s repeating slogans about getting rid of carbon tax which would have minimal effect, and has no idea how to bring down power prices in any significant way.

Nov 2012

Abbott is understood to imply ‘authentic’ Aboriginal people are those who live in the bush rather than elsewhere: “I think it would be terrific if, as well as having an urban Aboriginal in our parliament, we had an Aboriginal person from central Australia, an authentic representative of the ancient cultures of central Australian the parliament”. A reporter who was there said that he has been misrepresented which then begs the question – why did Abbott not express himself more clearly.

Dec 2012

Abbott endorses, defends, backs Mal Brough while admitting he has not read Justice Rares’ scathing findings about Brough.

Jan 2013

At an Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony in Adelaide,reading from a prepared speech, Abbott completely disregards and disrespects Indigenous people, by saying “The first lot of Australians were chosen by the finest judges in England, not always for good reasons . . .”.

Feb 2013

Abbott was at a press conference at Salvation Army in Brisbane, praising the good work of organisations like the Salvation Army, and in response to media questions took the opportunity to put the boot into asylum seekers, vilifying them, even though they are one of the groups the Salvos assist. Being apolitical and unlikely to comment, one can only assume that the Salvos did not appreciate being linked to hate speech.

Mar 2013

Abbott claims the GFC finished 4 years ago, as US and Europe struggle to recover, and Cyprus experiences banking crisis.

Mar 2013

Hamish McDonald interview, Channel Ten late news. Abbott says he does not do deals, seemingly forgetting the 17 days of negotiation with independents following the 2010 election.

Mar 2013

Heckled at Forced Adoption apology for using terms some find offensive. If he had read first few pages of Senate Report he would have known that. Interviewed by Sabra Lane the next day he didn’t acknowledge he was at fault in any way. His words: “. . . it was quite an emotional group in Parliament House yesterday”.

Mar 2013

As he did almost a year ago, Abbott tells WA one thing about its allocation of GST and tells Tasmania another.

Footnote: Arranged by month, may not be chronological flood levy on the same day that cyclone Yasi bore down on NorthQLD.

Hope it all helps.

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