Sunday, September 1, 2013

Heaps More Tel Aviv... An Occasional Jakarta

Hm... think of Tony Abbott and the first thing that springs to mind is his "sound foreign-policy pronouncements and his extensive experience walking the world stage," right?


So who TF are you to disagree if the federal member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, asserts that the above is the case?

"If the Coalition wins on September 7, Abbott, with Julie Bishop as his foreign minister, will ensure Australia more deeply and effectively engages with our region. 'More Jakarta, less Geneva' is the catchcry... The Opposition Leader understands the subtleties of the region. He has given speeches in Beijing, Tokyo and Jakarta about the opportunities that are presented to Australia by Asia's rising middle class." (Abbott has pedigree to restore Australia's reputation in region, The Australian, 30/8/13)

For the life of me I can't understand why Josh didn't include in the above catalogue, Toeknee's brilliant Indonesian boat buyback scheme.

OK, "[a] senior member of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's ruling coalition said the buyback plan showed the Opposition Leader lacked understanding of Indonesia, and the broader asylum-seeker problem... 'This is a really crazy idea, unfriendly, derogatory and it shows a lack of understanding in this matter,' [he said]." (Jakarta furious over Abbott buyback plan, AAP, The Australian, 27/8/13)

But then, what would he - Mahfudz Siddiq - know? He's just the head of Indonesia's parliamentary commission for foreign affairs.

Other Indonesians are more discerning:

"Hikmahanto Juwana, an international affairs expert from the University of Indonesia, has described the plan as 'humiliating', and says it shows the Coalition has a poor understanding of its northern neighbour... He said buying the boats would cause the fishermen to lose their livelihoods and would lead to resentment and even conflict between the local population and foreigners." (ibid)

Well, maybe not.

But anyway, what would this Indonesian Hik know? The proven fact is that Australians know more about Indonesia than Indonesians do!

For example, a recent DFAT poll shows that, like their soon-to-be new leader, Toeknee Abbott, Australians have an astonishingly sophisticated understanding of Indonesia:

Almost 50% of Australians believe Indonesia is a threat to our national security; 47% believe that Indonesia is an Islamic state, not a democracy; 18% thought Indonesia had made no effort at all to combat people smuggling; 20% thought Bali was a country; and "the two words that Australians most associate with Indonesia were 'holiday' and 'Muslim'." (Indonesia threat to security, Bernard Lane, The Australian, 27/8/13)

Your Indo Hiks and Mahfudzies need to understand that it's only because we have such an Indonesia-literate population that we'll be electing a foreign policy sophisticate like Toeknee Abbott to the prime ministership next Saturday.

Finally, just between you, me and the wall, I know that 'More Jakarta, Less Geneva' is a pretty catchy little slogan but wouldn't 'Heaps more Tel Aviv, only marginally less Washington, an occasional Jakarta, and maybe the odd Geneva', though admittedly more cumbersome, better encapsulate our coming foreign policy?

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