Australia is sending the wrong message and the wrong messengers to UN climate change talks in Lima.

Greg Hunt looking wounded

Environment Minister Greg Hunt told to stay home from Lima, the most important meeting of his career so far.

Oh where Oh where has my little dog, gone?

Oh where Oh where can he be?

With his ears cut short and his tail cut long.

Oh where Oh where can he be?

Where Oh where is Greg Hunt? This is the question on everyone’s lips amongst international delegates to the UN climate show at Lima concerns Australia’s missing Environment Minister, work experience boy Greg Hunt who not only failed to show up at roll-call on the first day of the United Nations Conference but, it seems, will now never show up at all. ‘He is a nice boy, kinda preppy, goofy and not as smart as he thinks he is but loveable, reminded us of a Labrador pup’, a spokesman who prefers to remain anonymous, ‘swallow anything, devoted to his master, always up for a pat or a treat and stubborn, never, never let go of the bone. Not like him to go AWOL at such an important event in his career. Besides he’s cute, kinda like the way a mascot or a stuffed toy is cute and kinda helpless, vulnerable and useless. The Lima conference is a step towards the Paris summit on climate next year, due to conclude a new international agreement.

We were worried that he been kidnapped by ISIS or something because he had upset someone or other. We know people who know people who arrange that type of thing. They call it pest control.’

The harsh reality is Hunt got bumped as international negotiator some time ago by the ruthlessly ambitious over-achiever fifth columnist and Fifth Avenue Fashionista Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who in turn just got bumped sideways for Lima by Andrew Robb by an Abbott government increasingly mistrustful of Bishop and fearful she might make some sort of commitment to reducing carbon emissions, a commitment that the Abbott government will avoid to the end, which is increasingly looking like another two years.

“It was never on the cards that he was going to go”, claimed a spokesman for the Environment Minister whilst Hunt maintains that it is right and proper that he stay at home with a good book and a Milo because, after all, he is quick to point out Lima is more of a DFAT thing.

Robb, whom government sources claim would already be in South America on other business, has come out with an equally unbelievable statement about his own reluctance to attend and is understood to be keenly looking up the words duenna, chaperone and Best Eats in Lima on Wikipedia, sharing all of Hunt’s bookmarks and Pinterest pins.

Of course it’s unfair – and on all of us, not just on Hunt. Our Environment Minister has an impeccable case for being in the hunt at Lima, and not just as Julie’s younger man-bag nor to carry Bishop’s baggage, although it is understood that he would discharge either duty impeccably.

Most countries will have their environment ministers there and none will have a trade minister. Hunt is nominally in charge of what passes for climate policy in the Abbott government and he is the fall guy for the direction action plan which generous souls reckon is the mainstay of the government’s climate policy. Most in Cabinet openly snicker at the mention of the scheme and deride Hunt for being too close to their other object of derision the fairies at the bottom of the garden party, The Greens.

Certainly it will fall to Hunt to engineer his Direct Action into something which works, like a market-based scheme if Australia is to meet any emissions reduction targets the government sets for beyond 2020 or any proposals that emerge from Lima and are signed in Paris.

Sources near the PM’s office, however, suggest that Hunt is being demoted from the 2015 Cabinet anyway, given that no-one pays the annoying little dweeb the slightest attention. As to attending at Lima, the PM’s Office says that we just don’t trust him: Hunt, it must never be forgotten, supported an ETS for a long time. Not only that, the last thing we want is the little pill rabbiting on and embarrassing everyone with his direct action lunacy; everyone knows it’s a complete fantasy which won’t work, has never worked and which will cost us billions we don’t have. We’ll be scrapping direct action for something more economically responsible in the New Year when we demote him. Hunt can go and get sequestrated.

Of course, Hunt might be spared a mauling from the Giant Panda China, which, keen to get its own back on Julie Bishop for her insults earlier this year has just criticised Australia at the conference for refusing to contribute to the Green Climate Fund, set up to help developing countries deal with climate change. The Chinese have not forgotten Bishop’s first disastrous gig as Foreign Minister when she managed to infuriate the Chinese by criticising its air defence zone in the East China Sea and they had to put her firmly in her place:

“It is completely a mistake for Australia to make irresponsible remarks on China’s establishment of an air defence identification zone in the East China Sea, and the Chinese side will not accept it,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. “China urges Australia to correct its mistake immediately to prevent damaging Sino-Australia relations.”

In a year of ‘solid achievements’ in the recent words of the Prime Minister, being criticised by China is a rare feat which must not be overlooked. It is a unique distinction for the Australian government if not the last time the Abbott government is admonished for its bonkers approach to a global emissions reduction agreement, to say nothing of the green economy.

Other conversations Hunt will be happy to be out of the way of will involve almost any other UN delegate, should the issue of refugee conventions come up. The recent legislation passed by means of Scott ‘Mad Dog’ Morrison’s blackmailing the Senate has hardly boosted Australia’s image as a responsible international citizen both for what it represents, a complete abnegation of UN, as for the underhanded way it was achieved.

Whilst it will not be an official item for discussion in a conference about climate change, Bishop and Robb, no doubt will look forward to fielding hostile informal questions from UN delegates as to why Australia has passed a law which removes any duty for the government to comply with international law or act fairly when detaining asylum seekers at sea; why it is introducing fast-tracking refugee status determinations, a step which will see some returned to places where they face persecution and torture and blocking asylum seekers’ right to claim protection on national interest or character grounds without further explanation.

Asylum seekers will no longer have access to the Refugee Review Tribunal, which has had the power to correct processing mistakes by the immigration department. Instead, they can apply for a desktop review by a new Immigration Assessment Authority, though some groups won’t have access to that either. The law strips out references to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees – the 1951 document that defines who is a refugee, their rights and countries’ legal obligations of countries.

Of course, it may well be that a cold shoulder is shown Robb and Bishop because as the world community understands, the dynamic duo’s presence is not so much to contribute but to act as a handbrake, hindering progress in Lima by insisting any agreement drafted for the Paris meeting next December is legally binding, a process which will scare off other countries and help sabotage the spirit of the talks nicely.

Hunt is better off out of the bear pit, but for his sake and for Australia’s sake, it is a poor decision to sideline him at such an important meeting.