I doubt that there is anyone outside of Tony Abbott’s close circle of media apologists who is unsurprised at the arrogance of Abbott’s attitude towards our international neighbors.
Tact has never been Tony’s forté, and whilst here at home it is either overlooked, glossed over or apologised for by the Murdoch media; or even made a virtue of for that matter, abroad is where good manners, protocol and an adequate dose of humility are an integral part of the job. Professionalism is expected. While some small faux pas might be glossed over or explained away, plain bad manners and arrogance cannot be.
Australia has watched, sometimes with wry fascination, at other times with embarrassment as Abbott has either been unable to answer basic questions, been incapable of speaking “off the cuff” other than by the use of slogans, or, and especially when challenged: he runs. Perhaps expecting far more, the Murdoch media had their headlines ready before Abbott had even hopped onto the plane to Indonesia, this was to be Tony Abbott, the success; Tony Abbott, the powerhouse of diplomacy. That is, the media were expecting, one way or another that Abbott would be able to somehow mysteriously morph into prime minister Abbott. After all, some of the media perhaps speculated; the fleeing to escape questioning, the sloganeering, the asinine half thought out responses were really just “clever politics”…weren’t they…
Mainstream media had previously crowed with delight at the thought that Abbott has procured a “gotcha” on the issue of asylum seekers but had studiously overlooked the ineptitude of both Abbott and J. Bishop. Incidents such as Indonesia telling both Abbott and J. Bishop, and specifically that they would treat their assumptions most seriously were relegated to minor incidents by mainstream. Reported incidents such as below were quickly replaced by yet more turn back the boats rhetoric from Abbott. Abbott’s deliberate strategy was to give the impression that Indonesia had never said a word.
An Indonesian official has accused Australia’s Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, of promoting an arrogant policy on asylum seekers.
As the Opposition Leader admitted his plan to send boats back as “dangerous”, he also appeared to concede he had not raised the issue of boatpeople with Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when they met in Darwin last Tuesday.
“The fact is Indonesia knows exactly what our position is,” Mr Abbott told the ABC’s Insiders program, after being pressed repeatedly on whether he had broached the issue with the Indonesian leader in private talks.
“It’s not as if the Indonesians are in ignorance of what the Coalition intends.”
Clearly it was Tony Abbott himself who has been ignorant because a year later:
A furor over Australia’s policy of turning boats full of asylum seekers back to Indonesia has erupted ahead of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first visit as Australian leader to its important neighbor.
Indonesia has warned that the Australian Navy’s plan to intercept and force back Indonesian fishing boats crowded with asylum seekers from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Myanmar could breach Indonesian sovereignty.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa drove home that message in a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, in New York this week.
Why the surprise from the Murdoch media? This is exactly what the Indonesians have been saying to both Abbott and J. Bishop for well over a year.
Reality in the form of an article by Raoul Heinrichs has finally appeared via the Sydney Morning Herald:
Abbott returned from his trip humbled and empty-handed. While the episode had been a disaster, he was spared the full embarrassment. A still-fawning press bought the distracting spin. Meanwhile, the previous government’s PNG solution began working, allowing Abbott to quietly backtrack from his commitments while taking credit for fewer boats.
With a prime example of “fawning” coming from The Australian’s Greg Sheridan:
TONY Abbott has had an extraordinarily successful first trip to Indonesia as Prime Minister. But it’s only the beginning of his adventures with Jakarta.
Agreed Greg, thus shone-eth Tony’s true radiance…
Could it be that the mainstream media and the Murdoch media in particular are suffering from a severe case of “Tony Abbott says….”, and as a result we end up with the Murdoch media giving the appearance of incompetence as they regurgitate whatever Tony Abbott says. In March this year it was, “Tony Abbott says Indonesia will accept boats turned back”. In June, “Indonesian Vice President Dr Boediono said the country would not accept Australian vessels trying to return asylum seekers..”. Ignore the Indonesian government and believe “Tony Abbott says……”.
A pertinent quote from the Sydney Morning Herald is:
THE Indonesian government has confirmed that it would not accept the towing back of asylum seeker boats to its shores, sources say.
The policy puts an incoming Coalition government in Canberra on a collision course with Indonesia after the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, reiterated the stance yesterday.