I see in an opinion poll today, that Abbott has been ranked well above Barak Obama and David Cameron on showing leadership in the wake of the MH17 disaster. I note, too, that in terms of who respondents would prefer to stand up for Australia’s interests overseas, Bill Shorten came out on top.
The results comparing world leaders do not surprise me at all. Neither Obama nor Cameron seem to be making it an issue of national identity in the way that Abbott has, given the relatively few victims from either of those countries. A more sensible comparison would be with the Dutch and the Malaysian leaders, both of whom represent countries that have suffered, but who have expressed their sorrow without the hairy-chestedness of Abbott.
I do not feel at all reassured by Abbott’s handling of this tragedy. The man’s judgment is off. I have no affection at all for Putin, and I strongly suspect that evidence will point to weapons provided by Russia, but let the evidence fall where it will. And it’s all about evidence.
In the immediate aftermath, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, Abbott declared Russia’s involvement:
I stress: it is not an accident, it is a crime, and criminals should not be allowed to get away with what they’ve done,” Mr Abbott said. “So, there has to be a full impartial international investigation and Russia should certainly not be allowed to stand in the way of that just because the aircraft has come down over territory controlled by Russian-backed rebels….
We also know who is very substantially to blame for those problems, and the idea that Russia can somehow say that none of this has anything to do with them because it happened in Ukrainian airspace frankly does not stand up to any serious scrutiny.
“I want to say to the Australian people that as far as I am concerned, when you have a situation where Russian-backed rebels appear to have killed Australians using, it may well turn out to be, Russian-supplied heavy weaponry, Australia takes a very dim view indeed and we want the fullest possible investigation….
“I just want to say that it is absolutely imperative if Russia is to maintain any international standing at all that there be complete Russian co-operation with this,” he said. “No provocation, no excuses, no blame-shifting, no protecting of people who may be backed by Russia but who may have been involved in this terrible event….