Tag: Abbott failure at G20

Julie Bishop dives on world stage with attack on Obama.


The foreign minister said she had met the US secretary of the interior, Sally Jewell, in Sydney before the G20 and outlined “in considerable detail Australia’s commitment and capacity to preserve the Great Barrier Reef”.

“And I pointed out that we were working with the heritage committee and with UNESCO to ensure that the barrier reef remains as healthy and protected as is humanly possible,” Bishop told the ABC.

“I pointed out that mining and drilling and gas exploration are banned by law from the Great Barrier Reef region and that we had acted to prevent the dumping of capital dredge waste in the marine park. Indeed, [environment] Minister Greg Hunt announced that during the World Parks Congress, that we will ban that by law.”

Julie Bishop, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, has lashed out at US President Barrack Obama, reproaching his churlish ignorance, insubordination and bad form. His offence? He voiced fair and reasonable public concern for the survival of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Weak on fact, strong on indignation, Bishop’s objection contributes more dark comedy than any light of reason. Indeed, the more she protests, the more she resembles a Catherine Tate character: ‘How dare he, how very dare he!’

Bishop’s self-parodying protest speaks volumes about herself and her government. Diving into desperate damage control as her government’s domestic standing declines and her own standing takes a hit, her intervention is only likely to make matters worse for both.

Bishop’s nose is out of joint. How dare Obama speak out? Show us up? How dare the US President ambush the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott on his home turf? Then there’s the lapse of decorum: it is such poor form for a mere guest to abuse his host. Poor form, also it would seem to ignore the Australian Foreign Minister’s briefing, even if it did contradict all of the science. He did not know what he was talking about. The US President “overlooked” Australian actions in preserving the reef, she claims, as if correcting a small boy’s homework.

A spirited self-defence is evidently hard at work, at least. The Minister for Foreign Affairs cannot be faulted, at least in her own version of events. Yes and No Minister. Self-justification after the fact serves only to reveal a significant chink in your Armani. The test of performance lies in what is or what is not achieved, not who or what you might claim afterwards is really to blame. Your job is to make it work, not to point the finger when you fail.

Bishop’s over-retaliation has raised eyebrows whilst lowering her own and her country’s international standing. First, it is stretching things to accept that the President acted wrongly or badly. What else was he expected to do? Abbott, as G20 chairperson insulted world leaders as he attempted to limit the agenda, substitute his own agenda and hijack international events for domestic gain, a manipulation which conveyed at best indifference and at worst contempt for the real challenges faced by the world and its leaders. Any leader worth his salt would take a stand. Any true world leader would want to turn attention back to where it belonged.

In Brisbane, Abbott proposed, in effect, a G20 public housekeeping party; a global gathering where he would speak openly of struggling to put his own house in order whilst attempting to sweep climate change under the carpet. It was easy to appear out of order in this parochial context. Even compulsory. Virtuous. All you had to do was show a true commitment to international affairs.  Or behave like a statesman.

Obama’s timely reminder that the reef was in danger of extinction because of climate change contributed, it is true, to his upstaging the G20. Yet it was upstaging by default, simply because he cared enough to speak out on the major issue confronting the world. For this he is to be commended rather than condemned. And there are already clear signs that his words helped refocus the attention of the leaders present. He is to be admired for heeding the call of duty.

Julie Bishop, however, has a more limited perspective. How dare Obama have the temerity to exercise genuine world leadership! Shame Australia’s leaders out of their self-absorption and parochial self-interest. She wants to cut Obama down to size. Her agitation is palpable. What would he know? Whom did he talk to? Who does he think he is? Like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth the lady doth protest too much. It will be her undoing. She is already hoist with her own petard.

Not only was Obama out of order, Bishop alleges he did not know what he was talking about. Worse, he bypassed her.

It is true Obama did not consult Bishop before he made his speech drawing world attention to the dangers faced by this part of our world heritage. Nor should he have. No-one else, it seems, could do it. Least of all his host. This part of her reasoning is also comically self-important.

She tried to tell him. But would he listen? Bishop complains she briefed US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell prior to the address, just to see Obama got his facts right. This, it seems, would have ensured that he left the reef bit out. No doubt she has explained this to her own boss who might have also raised the odd question over Julie’s less than stellar G20 contribution.

Bishop has been forced to quickly sent Obama a bromide in the form of a briefing paper pointing out the error of his ways, reefing him in for his untrammelled arrogance and stupidity. Talk to me first, next time, meathead!

Proving once again that there is less to Bishop than meets the eye, her rebuke is typically insubstantial. In fact it is pretty fact free, embarrassingly flawed. Like many of her government’s recent attempts to explain situations, it bothers little with science or logic. But it makes revealing reading. Compelling, too, not only if your taste runs to a farrago of lies, disingenuous assertion and misplaced indignation at being upstaged by someone with a real concern for the future of the world and the means to make a difference.

Bishop’s case is countered by leading scientists who point to rising temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide in the oceans. Massive bleaching and destruction of fragile ecosystems will result.     Mr Obama was “right on the money”, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, said. “He was stating a fact.

“We have one of the jewels of the planet in our possession and we should care a lot about climate and he wasn’t getting that from our leader [Prime Minister Tony Abbott],” Dr Hoegh-Guldberg said.

Seldom stooping to let facts get in the way of her argument, Bishop’s petulant remonstration sets out clearly once again for all the world the wilful ignorance of her own party, the limitless arrogance of her own personal position and the status of both as terminally endangered species.

The current Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is also deputy leader of the Liberal Party, and the only woman permitted in the Abbott government Cabinet, has greatly disappointed with her failure to acknowledge the best efforts of those who are committed to dealing with climate change as a world priority. Her recent efforts have hindered more than helped anybody.

Her performance is all the more deplorable for its wilful distraction; amounting to an almost criminal neglect of other pressing international issues such as the unequal status of women, violence against women and any practical plan towards redressing the world-wide trend away from inclusivity and towards further marginalisation and discrimination.

Starting to clean up our own backyard would be perhaps too parochial for our globe-trotting Foreign Minister but it is a sound first step for implementing wider reform.  Immigration is a bridge too far, no doubt, but the latest bill before the senate will make us the pariah of the international community. Alternatively, she could try closer to home. A ‘robust discussion’ with Colin Barnett, her home state premier, about his decision to close around 150 Aboriginal communities would be a useful place to start.

Of course, this would involve rethinking her own approval of the scheme. It’s another Federal cutback which the nation never got to vote on last election. WA has chosen to make Aboriginal people refugees in their own country because the Abbott government decided to cease funding for essential services in remote communities. As part of the cabinet discussion around that decision, she could explain how this is leadership rather than something we should all be deeply ashamed of.

Julie Bishop, you had the chutzpah to rebuke Barack Obama over the Barrier Reef when he was clearly in the right. Surely, then you have the wherewithal to stand up to your Prime Minister when he is clearly in the wrong. Begin to assert your independence where it may do some good. Tackle Abbott over all those areas of policy in which Australia is reneging on its responsibility to its own people to say nothing of its international obligations. Tell him he is wrong about climate change and that you need to conserve your energies to fight injustice, inequality and ignorance at home before you can take another single step on the world stage without making yourself and your government an even greater international laughing stock.

G20 Jaws of Disaster for Abbott and his government yet Obama rises magnificently to the occasion.


Snatching victory from the jaws of disaster, whilst providing an instructive and much-needed illustration of the type of leadership a real politician can provide, US President and orator Barak Obama gave his inspiring, highly acclaimed climate change ‘off-G20’ address at Queensland University, a change of venue and strategy necessitated by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a self-professed climate change sceptic who, Canute-style, had issued an edict to bemused world leaders that climate change was off the ‘major’ G20 agenda. Obama’s speech pointedly personalised climate change with references to drought, increasing university fees, the decline of the Great Barrier Reef, the case for same sex marriage amongst other Abbott government pressure points.

Abbott’s backup artist, cuddly muddle-headed wombat Joe Hockey, another political Walter Mitty, and erstwhile personable, blokey, breakfast television boofhead, made a further futile attempt to rescue his leader from his own stupidity by kicking yet another own goal the following morning on national TV.

In a disturbing attempt to contextualise his perspective for TV audiences, ‘we are doing the best we can, Barry’, Hockey explained straight-faced he had not ‘caught’ Obama’s speech because of his own ‘hard work on the treadmill’. Virtuous, hard graft, it seems, prohibited any decadent indulgent frippery such as “the vision thing’. Viewers were also meant to swallow the whopper that Obama’s complete upstaging of Abbott’s show could ever conceivably have passed him by. Treadmill or no treadmill. Or his staff. Or that there would be not a transcript available. In advance.

Reprieved from talking about anything significant, Hockey then proceeded to claim that climate change was no impediment to world growth. ‘Look at China’. Indeed. Viewers were instead transfixed because Joe appeared to have gone the full Menzies eyebrow makeover in his latest personal grooming session, giving the impression of two sceptical crows disturbed by the ruckus below and about to take wing, completely upstaging the otherwise sound work the Treasurer was putting into supportive facial expressions. No impediment? One only hopes he notifies Greg Hunt. Save billions on direct action.

A shoo-in already for nomination in the highly contested Darwin award for his performance yesterday, Abbott will clearly go down in history as some type of pioneer. In future, supposing the G20 survives his concerted attack on its already shaky foundations, ‘off G20’ will become the real G20. Anything of interest, substance or anything remotely worthwhile, will take place off-G20 where real people who are also political leaders will genuinely engage with real issues before appreciative audiences. Obama’s words will live on. Abbott will be remembered, if at all, for other reasons.

‘It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…’, Abbott, succeeded only in snatching disaster from every conceivable opportunity and even further afield, by hi-jacking his own G20 show and the attention of the world, for domestic purposes, clumsily framing his ‘leaders retreat’ as a type of DIY therapeutic AA style confessional.

Leaders were mystified, angry and embarrassed rather than edified by the PM’s descent into that most private of personal hells – his own sinkhole of self-pity. Abbott’s contribution to leadership was to initiate a tacky process of over-sharing by airing a revealing story of his own, consisting of some badly edited selected highlights chosen from the vast wealth of his own political ineptitude. If I could kick off, he began, deploying a venture into Ozzie colloquialism which, like his talk would be lost in translation.

Unabated, Abbott then went off the cuff over carbon tax, illegal boats, roads, (his government apparently has discovered them) and getting the budget under control (a lie about another lie) before talking about how hard it was to get people to pay for a doctor or pay through the nose for a degree. It was a clumsy attempt to secure a global endorsement for Joe Hockey’s second bite at the budget cherry. Other power-hungry mediocrities, narcissists and Adlerian psychopaths assembled in the room, yawned, snatched a power nap or looked away in sheer disbelief, disinterest and disgust.

‘Bury me when I need publicly to tell other leaders my first year of failure’, Putin is believed to have muttered in contempt before resuming his jottings on calibrating the range of sea-borne tactical nuclear warheads. Abbott, however, thus ensured his own special place in history as the antipodean political bantam who fell asleep in public dreaming aloud of being a rooster. He would be forever, however, reviled by world leaders as a prime time waster and flashy narcissist, the excessively matey man in the tight shiny suit with the extreme comb-over who grabs your hand, holds you to his chest and breathes down your throat while pumping your hand into submission. Not letting go until every camera battery in the room is flattened.

Abbott did set the bar high in some respects. An ‘Abbott handshake’ is guaranteed to be top of the list of diplomatic no-nos for decades to come. Indeed, such was the flesh pressing exhibited by ‘I wanna hold your hand,’ Abbott that it has attracted the attention of clinicians world-wide and may in future be used in some form of stress test to be deployed by psychologists interested in researching human responses to the sudden invasion of personal space, physical over-sharing and violation of etiquette, decorum and other social norms.

Abbott’s bizarre behaviour on the first day of the G20 earned the censure of climate change experts world-wide including no less an authority than  Nicholas Stern who lamented the Australian Prime Minister’s need to successfully put political dogma ahead of the best interests of the rest of the world.’

It was, according to Stern and countless others, ‘outrageous.’ The nation’s women, meanwhile, were astonished to learn that whilst the talk-fest was underway, leaders’ wives had been escorted safely away from the realm of ideas, the dangers of controversy and the seat of power to a more feminine environment – photo-opportunities with furry animals. This acknowledgment of women’s roles and gracious concession to the more limited proper orbit of women’s perspectives, intelligence and attention spans, can only have been engineered by the Minister for Women himself, self-proclaimed ‘feminist’ Tony Abbott who has included one token woman head-prefect Julie ‘I did it my way’ Bishop in his cabinet and who continues unabated on his own, inimitable, lumbering run to fulfilment in his chosen role as his party’s gift to women, Tone, the tone-deaf piano tuner of Australian gender politics.

Abbott government crisis: G20 Show undergoes urgent revamp.


Public derision from any quarter is confronting to anyone. But members of political elites are especially susceptible. When one is derided by 6 billion people, it may well hurt just that little bit more. Even case-hardened psychopaths can prove sensitive, as the contemporary case of Tony ‘Shirtfront’ Abbott superbly demonstrates. Having made a complete international laughing stock of himself with Vladimir Putin and his moronic, mindlessly self-destructive yet sycophantic atavistic ranting about coal and humanity, a pale and visibly shaken Australian PM, Abbott has been forced to ‘rush through’ a total revamp of the G20 show in BrisVegas tomorrow.

Entitled ‘Operation Panic Button’, the remodelled show is supercharged with adrenaline, testosterone and sheer terror. Upstaged from the start by his own complete inexperience, Abbott is galvanised by a terrifying reality – being relegated into perpetual irrelevance and obscurity by a series of real world events, including Ebola, ISIS, Russia’s resolute determination to annex Ukraine and the recent announcement of a deal on carbon emissions between China and the United States.

Clearly angered at being blindsided by the shock announcement from US president Barack Obama and Chinese premier Xi Jinping of new national climate change goals and the way it has trashed his own G20 agenda, Abbott appears to be struggling to maintain any semblance of forward momentum, let alone any show of composure, especially now he has the added distraction of bits of the Russian navy up his clacker.

Having successfully made a personal lifelong enemy of Putin, the world’s most powerful and dangerous psychopath, Abbott is believed to be anxiously receiving regular special naval briefings on the accuracy and range of Russian missiles, nuclear weapons and other sea-borne armaments. Advertisements for auditions for the role of Abbott body double have appeared on all social media, in the press and on selected supermarket community noticeboards in all major capital cities. A food taster has been engaged for all official banquets and refreshment stations. Abbott in the meantime, has issued a statement which has only served to further alarm mental health experts and others who remark the disunity his cabinet demonstrates under pressure.

Spin doctors have been performing emergency triage on the Abbott government. Yet the patient’s vital signs continue to provide cause for concern. Media comments by a politically phlegmatic Julie Bishop and others have provided little but unintended comic relief. When the going gets tough, the Abbott government gets spinning. Avoid the truth at all costs: ‘Of course, the Russian Navy is always doing this sort of thing. It is only to be expected. They are in international waters. We have been monitoring them for some time.’ Hardy ha ha ha!

Australians are left scratching their heads trying to recall the last time a small fleet of Russian vessels was off the coast of Queensland during any international gathering. For those who still don’t get it, Russia has personalised Putin’s gun barrel diplomacy by pointedly claiming, tongue in cheek, that a purpose of their naval voyage is to seek information about climate change.

The government has been skittled. Abbott government unity, as distinct from Peta Credlin’s iron fist, is chimerical. Liberal unity is a contradiction in germs, given its lack of any coherent ideology and the peculiar circumstances of its origin. It is called Liberal because Menzies did not want the electoral handicap of the appropriate word ‘Conservative’. Certainly, on this occasion, it was all over the shop or, giving another dimension to the term, as it is fondly and blasphemously whitewashed, a broad church.

Anti-environment Minister and work experience student, Greg Hunt hollowly applauded the US-China deal in a Monty Python moment of magnanimity and irrationality. Like the Black Knight, his own imminent mortality was not in contention. Yet again, no one paid any attention.  Smart-arse, Julie Bishop claimed she was not surprised. She knew, ‘already, she said.’ The accommodating, avuncular and ponderously inept Joe Hockey deemed it an ‘acceptable item for discussion’ within a larger topic, the world economy, typically missing the point that global warming is the larger topic.

Abbott, finally, took off like a startled hare, bolting along on yet another tack, ‘We are talking about the practical. We are talking about the real. We are not talking about what may hypothetically happen in fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty years down the track. We are talking about what … what we will do and are doing right now, and that is what the Australian people expect of us. I’m focusing not on what might happen in sixteen years’ time. I’m focusing on what we’re doing now, and we’re not talking, we’re acting.’ Sheer spin, fantastically out of control from a febrile leader who is neither talking nor acting but denying. Someone needs to take his temperature.

Abbott’s dizzy spell to one side, boffins are working feverishly around the clock to pull the fat from the fire. Joe Hockey’s original Headland PowerPoint: ‘Who has the key to a bigger GDP? Is now a snappy: ‘Catch the Rats who won’t pay Tax,’ and has been creatively re-crafted into a sultry torch song come bump n grind dance bracket format entitled: ‘Screw you over, give you the bill’: Australia – open wide for business.  

Sharing centre stage, but Miss Piggy style hogging the limelight, Foreign Affairs Minister, the incomparable Julie Bishop will perform her own lap (band) dance whilst belting out a fetching rendition of ‘Hey, Big Spender, while Smoking Joe steps through a specially choreographed IMF routine assisted by ‘The Hendersons will all be there’, an IPA giant dancing puppet troupe and led by a special Australian armed forces massed brass band supported by the Jacqui Lambie backing singers.

A second provisional number, ‘I will survive’ is a less certain Hockey offering, although it is rumoured that the Foreign Affairs Minister has expressed keen interest in putting her own stamp on this classic.

Global warming is back on the agenda. Once opposed as an agenda item (and indeed as anything of significance) by the same man who could not refuse Putin’s attendance because the G20 runs on consensus, will now be fully and energetically embraced in a late night team building and bonding workshop at the Viper Room, a world-class adult entertainment centre in Brisbane’s red light district. Featuring a complimentary international smorgasbord of divertissements, refreshments will include Scots whisky, Cuban cigars, Kiwi green, Cabramatta hydro and Bendigo ice. IMF and World Bank Paramedics will be on standby with wads of money to revive the fortunes of those who may become indisposed, in return for sovereign rights to that country’s economy in perpetuity.