Has anyone seen Tanya Plibersek, shadow foreign minister? If so, please report the sighting to Missing Persons and then contact the Federal ALP so they can pick her up and get her talking.
The Abbott Government has committed a series of disastrous foreign relations blunders but hardly a word from Ms Plibersek.
She appears to have joined her leader Bill Shorten’s “Team Australia” project and doesn’t want to embarrass Abbott or his hopelessly incompetent Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
In quicksilver succession, the Abbott maddies have shattered Australia’s relations with Jakarta, Beijing and Dili. They have provided a golden opportunity for the Shorten-Plibersek duo to demonstrate leadership, foreign relations maturity and diplomatic guile.
There is ample evidence to demand a royal commission, or at least a Senate inquiry, into the ASIS bugging of the Canberra-East Timor negotiations which robbed the emergent nation of its natural gas riches and handed them on a plate to Woodside.
Then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer later joined Woodside as a paid consultant. A coincidence? Only a judicial inquiry can lay bare the facts.
But the spineless Labor Opposition has made no such demand. Perhaps it’s time to ask the party’s membership in a plebiscite or the next federal conference to demand a royal commission: this would put the gutless parliamentarians on the spot in the most emphatic way.
Meanwhile, Ms Bishop, former head of the law firm Clayton Utz, is behaving so hopelessly that she will have to be replaced at the first opportunity.
Breach of diplomacy
After Beijing announced an air defence zone over its islands in the East China Sea, Bishop summoned the newly-arrived Chinese ambassador Ma Zhaoxu to the Department of Foreign Affairs on November 25 like an errant schoolboy and proceeded to give him a verbal whipping.
Her stupendous breach of diplomatic etiquette has only one explanation: she was trying to impress Washington. It made Australia – once again – look like the messenger boy for the US Government.
When are going to grow up and adopt our own foreign policy? The last time we had an Australian foreign policy was under Gough Whitlam, PM from 1972 to 1975.
And it doesn’t look like there will be a return to an independent foreign policy under Shorten or Ms Plibersek.
The islands dispute is being ramped up by extreme right-wing elements at the Pentagon and US State Department and dangerous nationalists in the pro-US Abe government in Tokyo. Australia has no trade or commercial interest whatsoever: to take sides with Tokyo, thus infuriating Beijing, was just plain dumb.
Australia’s boardrooms, home of the Liberal Party most powerful backers, are in despair. They have massive investments in the three Asian nations – China, Indonesia and East Timor – which the Abbott administration has offended in the most gratuitous and offensive fashion.
It’s back to the Menzies era for the Abbott crowd. Abbott, Bishop, Pyne, Brandis and Morrison think that Asians should be pulling them around in rickshaws.