Abbott on MH-17

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….

This instant rush to judgment is Abbott’s alone: both the Dutch and Malaysian heads of state cautioned the need for evidence.  No such qualms with Abbott.
Bill Shorten interjected his own bit of hairy-chested nonsense with his suggestion that Putin would not be welcome at the G20 and Abbott quickly adopted it as a “fair question”.  It’s not.  Australia may be hosting the G20, but Russia’s presence is not a matter for Australia alone.
Our response has been militaristic from the start, dubbed “Operation Bring Them Home”.  Then there was the declaration that we would be sending armed police to “secure the site”.  Oh we don’t want to get involved in the politics, says Abbott, we just want to bring our people home. As soon as Australian weapons are carried onto that soil, it’s political alright. Fortunately that thought bubble seems to have lapsed and wiser heads have prevailed.
He seems completely oblivious to the fact that there is a war going on over there. I note that neither the Ukranians nor the rebels have stopped fighting: in fact, the Ukranians seem to be stepping up their attacks to regain territory.
Australia did make good use of its Security Council seat to garner unanimous international support for an impartial enquiry: a Council seat that the Coalition had sneered at previously.  All this concern for international protocols is rather galling given the deliberate disregard for similar international protocols in relation to refugees.
It’s a good reality check to listen to European reports of the recovery effort: try BBC, or Deutsche Welle.  There you’ll learn that it is the Dutch-  those Dutch who have treated the victims with such grace and dignity, those Dutch who in the midst of their sorrow held back from lashing out until the evidence is in- who are taking the lead here.  Just as well, too.

3 responses to “Abbott on MH-17

  1. He’s channelling Billy Hughes, in the most inappropriate way. Militarising this tragedy and using it to grandstand internationally is shabby behaviour. For the sake of the bereaved, I hope he moderates his chest-thumping if he’s anywhere near them…
    Where is our governor-general when we need him? Remember the G-Gs sensitive and thoughtful response after Bali? *That* was appropriate….

  2. I’ve found the chest beating and ball scratching offensive too, particularly, as you say, in relation to his own suspect governance (?) on refugees, and hypocritical attack on China for their human rights. Oh, for a decent leader to lead!

  3. I love it when you get cross and political. It is Howard’s Tampa moment, Thatcher’s Falklands. His talk has Russia quaking in its boots, not.

    However, the useless UN should have been in there and secured the site and damn local issues.

    While I think it was just a terrible error by those who want to be Russian, it does need to be proven. However, I have mixed feelings about Abbott calling it for what it fairly clearly was. Processes, evidence, proof, yes. They all need to be gone through, but I am not yet ready to say The Abbott has gone wrong on the matter. Sometimes some plain speaking of the bleeding obvious is good.

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