Terrible Tony Abbott’s assessment of our bumptious and erstwhile Foreign Affairs Minister was mostly spot-on. KRudd liked parading his intelligence and posturing on the world stage, way beyond Australia’s remit as a ‘middle’ (or middling, or indeed muddling) power, neglecting our vital interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
Ubiquitous and prolix, Rudd grandstanded on Libya, nuclear proliferation, climate change action (while dropping his own CPRS plans!) and did nothing on live cattle exports to Indonesia, instability in PNG (Australia’s biggest recipient of foreign aid at $482m), East Timor/Malaysia asylum seeker plans and other simmering regional matters, like West Papuan independence. Lots of blah and jet setting, but little useful action in our regional backyard of upset neighbours; and obsessed with getting a seat on the UN Security Council, lobbying all and sundry as he commuted round the world.
Even his vaunted Sinophile knowledge did not seem to help much with our oh-so-important China relationship. And as Abbott succinctly put it, both ‘the Rudd and Gillard governments managed to antagonise Japan over whaling without actually saving any whales’. We learn now that he had plans to open an Australian Embassy in Senegal, of all places. ‘Punching above our weight’ rolls nicely off Australian tongues and is akin to Anzac Spirit, but matched with an over-weening personality and super-ego (in a non-Freudian sense), we become a pain in others’ diplomatic derrieres.
My accord with Abbott on Australia’s interests stops abruptly at his conclusion that ‘the continued engagement and forward strategic presence of the USA is vital’. No sir, we say NO BASES here! Australia’s goal should be independence of thought and action within our US alliance, without kowtowing and joining US military adventures like obedient sheep. If NZ can think for itself so can OZ – and they have more sheep per capita too. Our strategic interests do not always align with our best friend LOFW (Leader of the Free World), and we should be prepared to tell them so.
This rant is now history as Kevin suddenly left the world stage for another tilt at the top job, but apparently without counting properly. Vale Kevin 07, as he exits stage (left or right?) with his fixed smile on that pudding dial; Therese and brood in tow; ego intact and devoid of self-reflection!