I remember going to vote for this recent federal election (not long ago, I know, but I’m starting to wonder how far the collective Aussie memory base goes). I remember the dread I felt, seeing all the voters proudly sporting Coalition pamphlets in the lines. My wife not too quietly complaining about the chances of the Coalition winning, with their party bag of policy blunders, and me trying to discretely change the subject. I knew we were deep in ill-informed voter territory and also knew that our situation was far from unique.
Six years of negativity had finally given the Coalition the edge. As I said before the election, people were not voting for the Coalition, but rather against an ALP that had done itself few favours in the public eye.
A little over a week before the inevitable finally happened, I questioned the sense in electing a so-called climate “sceptic” as Prime Minister after the US President gave a speech saying that we have no time for a meeting of the “flat earth society”.
Now, we are the flat earth nation.
Clearly, Abbott would have problems in the diplomatic arena. Yet I couldn’t have predicted just how bad Abbott would be on the global stage.
It’s only been two months of an Abbott government and the problems started with his election promise to “turn back the boats”. He forgot to run the idea by Indonesia who had pretty strong feelings to the contrary.
Of course, as many now know, that’s not where Abbott’s problems with Indonesia end. His favoured approach to his voting public – clear and consistent silence – hasn’t gone down well with the Indonesian President following the spying allegations. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has openly attacked Tony Abbott for his cold attitude.
But Abbott hasn’t been content with spoiling Australian relations with just one country in our region. At the same time he has tied himself over a barrel with China on trade negotiations alongside irritating China by seemingly taking sides with Japan with whom China are now prickly over disputed islands.
But the real gem is to annoy multiple nations at once and again, in just two months, he has managed to do this again and again.
Firstly, in Warsaw at COP19, we not only won the “fossil of the day” on the very first day (awarded to the least productive nations for their efforts of the preceding day), but have gone on to win another three. Australia is standing out, for all the wrong reasons, leaving other representatives shocked.
Dare I add another?
Where Sri Lanka’s alleged human rights records have dominated CHOGM, a meeting of Commonwealth member nations in the host country, and the Coalition couldn’t spare a senior minister for COP19, our PM himself made it to CHOGM with nothing but praise, and patrol boats, for Sir Lanka.
When asked about Sir Lanka’s human rights record, Abbott replied, “… difficult things happen.” Isn’t that the PC version of, “sh*t happens”?
By giving Sri Lanka military hardware, to greet refugees, when there are such strong concerns about human rights in the country and his dismissal attitude to these concerns, Abbott again stands out in the global arena and also any Aussie paying attention.
Howard achieved a lot for his term, lasting a decade, but even he couldn’t achieve all this in just two months. The only way that I’m surprised is the pace. It seems to me that Abbott believes his will be just this one term and he is a man on a mission. With only three years at his disposal, he is really hitting the ground running and leaving a wake of destruction behind him.
“Typhoon Tony” takes real meaning.