Such a policy would constitute a unilateral type of measure that we do not support.
– Marty Netalagawa, Indonesian Foreign Minister 15 July 2013
Rudd got precisely what he wanted from his recent trip to Indonesia, namely an official communique from the Indonesians stating that the Coalition policy of Towback is unacceptable to them.
This comminique was signed by the Indonesian President.
The rejection of Towback is no more than what the Indonesians told Morrison and Abbott back in October last year when Morrison, soundly chastised, admitted as much and then said that the Coalition would commit to prevent refugees entering the entire region of South-East Asia (thus not coming to Indonesia); a policy which could be summarized as Visualising World Peace.
But while Rudd has succeeded in outing Indonesia’s rejection of the Coalition’s Towback policy and correctly stated the inevitability of conflict with Indonesia at the diplomatic level (which of course could have ramifications for Cattle Exports or other trade matters), I do not believe that this will transfer votes to Rudd.
Australians could not care less about Indonesia’s preferences, could not care less if Indonesia carries 100% of the refugee burden for our region, could not care less if refugees drown in the Timor Sea, could not care less if all so drowned were women and children and would indeed support a policy of mandatory drowning for asylum seekers.
For a long time I thought that the utter brutality of the Coalition policy would disgust a certain percentage of the swinging voter cohort such that they would abandon the Coalition in revulsion. Even 0.5% would be helpful. But it seems there is no lower limit to the contempt and fear that the electorate will self-justify toward asylum seekers when encouraged to do so by their leaders.
And on reflection, that is the obvious lesson of history in all cultures at all times.
Its what causes sectarian violence and genocide. Its as natural and as palatable as mothers milk.
The Coalition’s belief that it has certainty of a winner on this Indonesia-conflict issue is again confirmed by Scott Morrison in today’s UnAustralian whose headline states Jakarta won’t dictate on boats: Coalition.
Right-thinking people immediately recognize that of course Indonesia will not dictate to us. We, Australia, will dictate to them. Because as our glorious departed
Ayatollah former Prime Minister John Howard has famously dictated: we decide who and under what circumstances who comes to Australia – International Law and regional co-operation notwithstanding.
This enunciates a one-way relationship very acceptable to Australians who are not accustomed to co-operating with yellow-skinned persons, particularly in receipt of additional brown-skinned persons to their neighbourhood. Rejection of any request of our Anglospheric ally, the United States is a foolish, security-demeaning and borderline traitorous act. But Indonesia ? Who gives a stuff ? Bomb them if necessary.
Meanwhile Julie Bishop is running the parallel contradictory line that Towback will only be done with agreement of the Indonesians who in any case have privately assured her they are sweet with the idea. Thus the thinking redneck is satisfied by Bishop, while the core constituency and fearful are emboldened by Morrison.
Now Julia Gillard was correctly criticised for her East Timor mega-gaffe , prematurely stating that she would gain approval for an asylum seeker detention centre in that country without having first cleared that policy through the Timorese executive. She relied instead on a single personal phone call with Jose Ramos Horta , the East Timorese president, in which Gillard raised the matter but nothing was discussed or agreed.
For this Gillard was derided as an immature dilletante in foreign affairs, a rather embarrassing school girl out of her depth in the top job.
Unlike Gillard, Abbott does not even have a zero level of acceptance for Towback in Indonesia. Towback has been specifically rejected by Indonesia’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Plainly Abbott’s attitude toward Indonesia is reckless and threatens to disrupt any and all agreements we have with them including Cattle Export.
Abbott coolly destroys whatever is in the way of his ambitions. Being so personally unpopular he can only succeed by dragging opponents down to his level of opprobium as he did with Gillard and Thompson, or by destroying them through legal machinery as he did to Pauline Hanson, Thompson and Slipper (and tried to engineer with Gillard).
Disrupting the successful bilateral relationship with Indonesia (ironically well cultivated by his idol, mentor and predecessor in John Howard) is merely another transient impediment to Abbott’s own success.
A Contrary View
Professor Greg Fealy of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific School of International, Political and Strategic Studies says that Abbott’s Towback will not imperil the bilateral relationship, indeed that it is absolutely outlandish to think so:
“I don’t think any serious observer would regard that as a likely prospect,” he said, because the Opposition’s policy had two caveats – one being that boats would only be turned back if it were safe to do so; the other being that Indonesia agreed to take boats back
Great. Can someone please quickly tell Scott Morrison that he is not accurately disseminating Opposition policy ? In the meantime Morrison can be judged on his words and so can Abbott who does not correct Morrison, but rather endorses him.
Morrison, Thatcher and Hadley
Just on Scott Morrison, I have been struck (though not smitten) by the similarity in vocal expression between Morrisson and Ray Hadley the Alpha shock-jock of 2GB. Both exhibit the same snarling persona, contemptuous tone and self-righteous manner.
I wonder if Morrison, marketing professional , has Thatcher-like, modelled his presentation on Hadley for better acceptance amongst his target audience of self-identified hard-done-by Western Suburbs decent Australians, decency having the understood connotations of xenophobia and specifically targeted misogyny within the shock-jock mental universe.
Why Morrison, apparently a born-again Christian would choose to project himself as a shock-jock is mysterious to me. I suspect Morrison is concerned about what he perceives as the creeping Islamisation of Australia by strategy of refugee asylum and so feels justified to raise community alarm. Morrison himself denies this motive but I find it otherwise impossible to reconcile his noxious utterances on asylum seekers – for example his citizen-informer policy that asylum seekers are so dangerous they require extra policing and conformity to Mandatory Behavioural Protocols to be supported by the vigilance of decent citizens – with his confession of faith as a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ.
And just on Hadley, I was amazed to learn on Australian Story that Hadley is the dominant figure in Sydney (and therefore we can probably say Australian ) broadcasting, having won his morning rush-hour timeslot continuously for years on end.
I naively though that such a distasteful persona could have only limited appeal and that Hadley was a fringe dweller of acceptance only to those suffering from ravaging hatreds.
Horribly, it appears Hadley is the face and voice of much of Western Sydney and therefore many typical swinging voters.
Mike Carlton, a rival broadcaster and by no means a paragon of nicety himself, describes Hadley’s program as a temple of hatred.
I think he’s nailed it.