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The Abbott Government’s plan for Indonesia

Unless your expectations of the Abbott Government were very low, you’d be extremely disappointed. I don’t blame you if they were high; you probably read the Liberal Party’s Policies and Discussion Papers, published in September 2013 – the election month – and were buoyed by all the fabulous things Tony Abbott and his Government were about to do for Australia.

Take, for example, his plans for Indonesia. Or rather, his plans for Australia and the role Indonesia will play. It’s fabulous stuff. They are there for all to see under the section titled The Coalition’s Policy for Foreign Affairs and revealed in The Plan.

Ah, yes, a plan. Being, to Strengthen Relations with Key Partners.

You will need to be sitting down to read this. And do not read it with a mouthful of coffee, or like me, you’ll be cleaning your monitor. It will cause a coffee spray. You’ve been warned. Brace yourself. Here is The Plan:

The Coalition will refocus foreign policy on Australia’s true international interests.

Chief amongst Australia’s relationships requiring renewed focus are:

Indonesia: It is essential to the interests of Australia and Indonesia that we work effectively across a broad spectrum of issues, including regional security, counter terrorism, freer trade and investment flows in East Asia, people smuggling, and action on climate change. The Coalition’s plan to resume control of our borders will help restore the good relationship with Indonesia that Australia previously enjoyed. We will build on the Howard Government’s Lombak Treaty with Indonesia to broaden and deepen security ties and will also aim to improve economic and educational links. We will also do all we can to repair the trade relationship following the live cattle export fiasco and we will also enhance the Australia-Indonesia Leadership Dialogue.

Yes, you did read correctly. It says, I repeat: The Coalition’s plan to resume control of our borders will help restore the good relationship with Indonesia that Australia previously enjoyed. The bullshit is absolutely breathtaking. And you did read that our two countries will work together to take action on climate change. And you did read that Australia will aim to improve educational links. And you did read the Coalition will repair the trade relationship in regards to the live cattle export.

Have you ever read such utter nonsense? If it wasn’t a joke at the time of publication, it certainly is now. It rates high among the list of the most ridiculous aspirations ever strung together by a Government, but not surprising given this is a Government who has absolutely no idea what it’s doing. Look at the Plan again (if you dare) and now look at the facts.

Fact Number One

The Coalition’s plan to resume control of our borders will not help restore our relationship with Indonesia. Well before the election Indonesia had:

… accused Australia’s Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, of promoting an arrogant policy on asylum seekers.

Ms Bishop has been in Jakarta for meetings with top officials including the deputy chairman of Indonesia’s parliament, Hajriyanto Thohari.

Mr Thohari says the Coalition’s policy to send asylum seeker boats back where possible is unfair on Indonesia.

He says he told Ms Bishop that Australian policy on asylum seekers should be more humane and he has accused her of being arrogant in explaining the Coalition’s position.

“In my opinion, that view is a view that is solely focused on Australia’s perspective, without considering Indonesia at all as the country that experiences the negative impacts of the illegal immigrant issue,” he said.

Yet they still went ahead with their ludicrous plan and not two weeks after Abbott won office Indonesia warned:

… that there were no circumstances under which Indonesia would accept Mr Abbott’s boat tow-back policy.

”No, we don’t agree with that. This is, I can say, something like a consensus between the government and the parliament not to agree with the plan which is now being projected by the new Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott,” Mr Tantowi said. (Mr Tantowi is a member of the Indonesian parliament’s ”Commission I”, responsible for foreign affairs).

The policy ”annoys our sovereignty as an independent country”.

”I think the policy will be very offensive and we in the parliaments fully support what was said by our foreign ministers, that we will fully reject the policy,” Mr Tantowi said.

The verdict: Epic Fail.

Fact Number Two

The two countries have not worked together in tackling climate change. They never will. The Abbott Government doesn’t believe climate change is an issue worth even raising an eyebrow over. Climate change is crap. And Kaye Lee reminds us that:

We have been condemned worldwide for our moves to repeal the ‘carbon tax’, our abolition of climate change bodies and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) (even though it’s making a substantial profit), our failure to send a politician to the Warsaw climate change talks and our refusal to provide any funding for the Green Climate Fund. At the Warsaw talks we received 4 Fossil of the Day awards, caused a walkout by other delegates frustrated with our obstruction, and were given the overall Colossal Fossil award.

How did they ever keep a straight face writing this promise into The Plan? Do they believe the rubbish they write? The cold hard fact is, they won’t be helping any country tackle climate change. Not even their own.

The verdict: Epic Fail.

Fact Number Three

The Abbott Government will not aim to improve educational links. As reported in The AIMN recently, the Government’s promised A$4.5 billion cuts to foreign would be detrimental for education in Indonesia, citing the Jakarta Post:

There is fear that Abbott’s measure to slash the foreign aid budget will conduce to Indonesia’s poor education quality owing to the fact that the biggest single portion of Australia’s aid spending in Indonesia goes to education.

The verdict: Epic Fail.

Fact Number Four

The Abbott Government may yet destroy the trade relationship in regards to the live cattle export (as well as other industries). It was recently announced that:

Indonesia is now looking elsewhere for its beef and wheat imports as the fallout from the Australian spying scandal continues.

Relations between Australia and Indonesia are at their lowest point since the East Timor crisis, and it seems the political scandal is damaging trade relations. Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan told foreign journalists in Jakarta earlier this week the country was considering halting the live cattle trade with Australia.

“The reason for our concern at the moment is quite easily explicable. And you as a human being, I think would understand it — if someone that you trust would do, you know, would do whatever that’s been described,” Wirjawan said.

Last week, Wirjawan asked the Indonesian Parliament to revise health laws and allow the country to import beef from India and Brazil.

Indonesia is Australia’s 12th-largest trading partner, and Australia’s live cattle export trade to Indonesia alone is worth $174 million. The biggest export industry to Indonesia is wheat, worth $1.395 billion a year. This market could also be in trouble, with Indonesia signalling yesterday it was looking at other countries to help with its food security. “There are other places that I think can help us with our food security aspirations,” Wirjawan said.

Australian goods and services exports to Indonesia make up a total of $4.75 billion.

Some may argue (the Australian media chief among them) that the spying scandal is no fault of the Abbott Government. However, as Jakarta have tried to tell us, their real issue is with Tony Abbott.

The verdict: Epic Fail.

I think the Abbott Government needs to race back to the drawing board . . . their plans for Indonesia definitely need an urgent makeover. And one could hold faint hope that the replacement plan isn’t just more pie-in-the-sky bullshit. I don’t hold any hope; my expectations of the Abbott Government were, and will remain, very low.


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  1. John Fraser

    The “drawing board” is under the control of Murdoch and Pell.

    Difficult to see how the “plan” to make rich people richer is going to work out.

    Sure to be a lot of trouble when the rich figure out that “Slick” Abbott has dudded them as well.

  2. jayanar

    The whole of their government’s approach to the region positively drips with colonial exceptionalism as Australia morphs suddenly into the regional bully keeping those pesky brown people in line.

    It looks like Abbott will only be satisfied with playing deputy sheriff to the US Republican dream government he hopes for in the future. In the meantime the domestic corporates will do as substitute sheriffs.

    No regional partnerships, no humane initiatives with neighbours to address the problem of refugees and asylum seekers, no trade agreements which are both free and fair, no attempts to deal with poverty, education, health and other services in the region.

    Instead Straya will revert to being a backward white enclave digging up and exporting a dwindling supply of rocks to other countries while barking orders to the natives.

  3. Truth Seeker

    Spot on Migs 😀 it’s like watching an old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, only with the names changed to protect the moronic… as Bullshitwinkle says to Hockey “Hey Hockey, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat… Ooh how did that get in there? 🙁

    And another problem for our illustious government ( :mrgreen: ) “The Geriatric Bishop” 😀

    The Geriatric Bishop!

    Cheers 😀

  4. M. R.

    Just keep it all coming, Michael: we need to have it pushed in our faces every day, or we’ll gradually come to believing it can’t be true …

  5. Möbius Ecko

    Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has agreed Australia will adhere to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s six-point roadmap to restore relations between the two countries, and also to set up a ”hotline” to manage the details of Indonesia’s withdrawal of co-operation.

    Julie Bishop meets Marty Natelegawa to restore relations between Indonesia and Australia

    The Abbott government has now completely caved to the Indonesians, and this is as big a backflip as it gets, more so than AbbottPyne Gonski debacle. Australia, if Abbott goes through with all six points, is now ceding major security concessions to Indonesia, concessions no other country in the world would ever contemplate of undertaking, no matter what the circumstances.

    My thought is that Abbott, as usual, is paying lip service and has no intention of stopping what Australia is doing against Indonesia. He, as he always has his whole life, believes he can say and do anything and get away with it without consequence, someone will be there to prop him up and get him out of trouble.

    Trouble is this time if he doesn’t undertake Indonesia’s six points as he promised he will, only paying lip service to them, and Indonesia finds out, then the fallout from that country will be enormous and will be for a long time.

  6. Terry2

    An interesting phenomenon with several of our new ministerial line-up clearly unsuited to their calling and in some cases they are just appalling people and it’s not just at home that they are given short shrift:

    Julie Bishop seems unable to stop annoying people be it Indonesia or China

    Scott Morrison so obviously plays with the truth that he has become a joke

    Christopher Pyne is proving himself to be the last person that you could ever make Education Minister

    Andrew Robb is in charge of negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership for Australia which, whilst the discussions are being kept from us, appears to be in many ways against our national interest.

  7. diannaart

    Abbott and his minnows, I mean, minions, behave as if they are the biggest sharks in a pond of their own imagining.

    Instead they are little more than toads (of the noxious variety, am rather fond of amphibians) in a pond beyond their understanding.

    Come on Bill Shorten, Abbott has been giving you ammo on a plate… if they call you a liar surely you can stand up to that, their record being so completely deceptive? You don’t have to defend yourself, you just have to attack – didn’t Abbott teach you anything these past 3 years? Besides, Abbott would not have been as successful if he didn’t have some help from the inside…krudd, krudd, krudd, croak.

  8. JAQ

    Is there anyone Julie Bishop doesn’t annoy?

  9. Carol Taylor

    Mobius, so what happens to Abbott’s turn back the boats policy, the main policy which he took to the election? The Indonesians have stated categorically that they will not be a party to taking back the people which Abbott has decided to reject.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Indonesia was the lead-up bout. Here comes the main event.

    “In a cold welcome to Ms Bishop on her first visit to Beijing as foreign minister, her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi said China was “deeply dissatisfied” with Australia’s public criticism of its decision to establish an air defence zone in an area which covers islands in the East China Sea that are the subject of a long-standing territorial dispute between Japan and China.

    “I have to point out that what Australia has said and done with regard to China’s establishment of the air defence identification zone in the East China Sea has jeopardised bilateral mutual trust and affected the sound growth of bilateral relations,” Mr Wang said. “This is not what we desire to see.”

  11. Kate Rose

    We need more forceful comments from Bill Shorten and his Shadow Ministers. Call out their lies every time. Remind constituents of what Gonski was – four years of good citizens’ hard work now being trashed out of spite.

    At every turn remind people of the Abbott Government’s spite and how they fooled some of the people.

    Talk in three word slogans (it worked against us) – this is a ‘bad, mad Government’

    Please Labor you have some of the best brains in the Parliament, use them to outsmart the dumb Pyne, Bernardi, Bishop, Bishop, Truss, Abetz, Brandis …..


  12. lawrencewinder

    All want for Xmas is a real Guvern-ment,
    A real Guvern-ment,
    A real adult Guvern-ment.
    Gee, if we could only
    have a real Guvvernment,
    then we could give you
    a honoured nation.

  13. CMMC

    They seem to adopted a strategy of “Political Madness”, which appears to them as the antithesis of “Political Correctness”.

  14. Paolo Soprani

    Yes, come on Bil. You’re dragging the chain. Get cracking!

  15. Misst

    I know I’ve said it before, but Kaye Lee, 4 daily Awards at the Warsaw Climate Conference … that must be fine? And the overall Colossal Award … surely just what Abbott dreamed of?? His minions must have followed orders to the letter. Whatever happened to the LNP Media release to announce this great success? It should have been massive headlines in the MSM!!

    And where is Bill Shorten? This govt needs to be ridiculed! We need to ask them why they are forever treating us like morons? Surely we deserve some respect! We should demand that Mr Abbott faces the media with explanations regarding the above failures? Oh, forgot … the MSM laps it all up … everything is hunky dory … no need for explanations! Exceptions, of course, for the online media … almost the only journalists that haven’t been duped!

  16. Gilly

    Nothing wrong with the foreign affairs policies, actually very good, if succinct. The only problem is with the implementation. OOPs, wasn’t that where Labor failed ? ! ! ! 🙂

  17. olddavey

    Abbott is taking Shorten to S.Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Bill needs to be on his back all the way there and back about the lies and policy vacuums Abbs and his team of untrained monkeys have inflicted on this country.

  18. doctorrob54

    I think abbotts plans with Indo. may have taken a slight turn to the Left,brakes my heart it does.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Who needs foreign policy and diplomats when you have a death stare expert like Julie who rather enjoyed it when the Americans groomed her by calling her “tougher than a woodpecker’s lips” and by saying that “Margaret Thatcher was England’s version of Julie Bishop”. As she basked in the glory of these “accolades?” they subtly slipped in “Oh and by the way, can we have more military bases in your country and can you tell Palestine and China to piss off. And just sign this free trade agreement – I promise it’s all good.”

  20. Buff McMenis

    What scares me, Michael, is the unknown “backroom boys/girls” who have constructed this Manifesto! IF (and it’s a very big “if”) it is actually the political front people like the Parliamentarians who came up with it then they should be chastised for the disgraceful attitude towards our Asian neighbours. If it was the faceless men and women who have NOT been elected to govern us then it is even more of an act that should raise the anger of every Australian and although I’m very suspicious of our main-stream media at this moment, surely there are still some true journalists in the newspaper and television outlets who will be brave enough to tell it as it really is! We can only hope!

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