Indonesian spying affair

Indonesia has recalled its ambassador after leaked documents reveal Australia spied on president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, amongst others. Dr Natalegawa:

“It’s impossible for an ambassador in foreign country to do their duty in the midst of an unfortunate situation like this,” he said.

“The summoning of the ambassador is not considered a light step, but it’s a minimum step we can do to consolidate situation, and to show our firm but measured act.”

You have to wonder what the endgame is in this matter. Seasoned foreign affairs commenters seem to think these matters can be managed, everyone knows that everyone spies on everyone else. Behind the scenes all can be settled down and we continue as before.

Well that hasn’t worked so far for the US when Angela Merkel found that her cell phone was not off limits. The issue is still very much alive, though it’s not clear that the US will agree to a legally binding ‘no spy’ agreement.

It seems to me that Indonesia has all the leverage it needs to get whatever it wants, especially as Crikey’s editorial suggests, Abbott is pursuing an asylum seeker-based foreign policy.

Nevertheless the US may not allow us to enter a ‘no-spy’ agreement. Against that, the Chinese are taking an interest.

There’s more at The Guardian and The Conversation.

Meanwhile Abbott has clearly placed stopping the boats ahead of human rights, even torture, in Sri Lanka.

And Abbott has done what you’d expect of a climate denialist in, together with Canada, putting the kybosh on a Commonwealth climate change fund for impoverished member states to help them tackle the effects of global warming.

Finally, in case you missed it, here’s Julie Bishop abroad.

265 thoughts on “Indonesian spying affair”

  1. If it wasn’t so serious, this whole farce would make a great script for comedy or satire.

    However, it is serious and it is likely to become quite dangerous …. so it is no laughing matter …. and anyone who imagines it will be resolved and blow over in a week or two is deluded.

    Kevin Rudd AND Alexander Downer – please return immediately; all is forgiven.

  2. I have been fascinated at how easily journalists have accepted the intelligence world’s view that everyone does it and so it is OK. Something more complex is operating in the case of Angela Merkel and SBY and I think it has to do with the division between public and private. It may be that argument can be made for information gathering in certain circumstance and be accepted with a wink and a nod. But it seems that monitoring the private communications of leaders is beyond the bounds of what is acceptable for the political class and also the wider community.

  3. Well, we couldn’t get JWH for war crimes. Can we get Abbott with his gifting of 2 patrol boats to Sri Lanka for accessory to crimes against humanity?
    As for the spy scandal – well, they erupt every now and then, though it used always be Russia vs. the Rest. Now the world has changed and its US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ vs. the Rest.
    It’s sloppy American security that’s caused this.
    Doesn’t look like Abbott is going to get any kudos for stopping the boats any time soon.if those corrupt Indonesians start facilitating them in their tens or hundreds.

  4. Mahout1329: We are not just talking about the leaders themselves. We are talking about monitoring wives, relatives etc.
    Some of this monitoring by the spy agencies of the media, business and foreign countries will be about finding what countries are doing and thinking. However, the monitoring can also be about gaining information that can be used to blackmail the leader themselves or pressure others to spy or try and persuade the leader to make certain decisions.
    This spying can also be used as the source of exclusive stories where the “leak” it is supposed to be based on is actually a camera or phone link.
    Someone should ask Abbott’s daughters whether they agree with their father and think it is OK for foreign companies to tap their phones and the phones of their friends just because “everyone does it”?

  5. What I cannot accept is Mr Abbott conceding that Australia had spied on SBY and family with the line “everyone does it”. His mouth is digging a deep hole for him: perhaps he should be wearing his ear-piece 24/7 so he can be given briefings on the fly.

  6. They spy on their own citizens, why would they not spy on foreign citizens? So much for Labor’s privacy credentials, oh yeah I forgot, it did not have any

  7. John D: espionage is a nefarious business at any time but this is beyond civility. And there is limited justification in ‘national interest’ terms

  8. A trite euphemistic calling it ‘over-reach’ as some in Canberra are doing. As in the Angela Merkel case, SBY has every right to be absolutely furious – and express it similarly – for an invasion of privacy regarding his wife’s mobile tapping. And frankly I don’t believe any of these ‘restrictions’ on how far the monitoring goes. Human curiosity, however prurient, is the driver for spooks, ours and anyone elses’.

  9. Kevin Rudd AND Alexander Downer – please return immediately; all is forgiven.

    Why? The Australian Signals Directorate (previously the Defence Signals Directorate) has been spying on Indonesia and our other Asian neighbours since its establishment in 1947. At the time of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 the DSD was reading Indonesian military and diplomatic shortwave communications and made the the government of the day aware of Indonesia’s intentions to invade and then its aftermath.

    The spying has continued since then, including when Downer was foreign minister and Rudd was prime minister then foreign minister. The attempt to intercept a phone call by Yudhoyono was made in 2009 when Rudd was prime minister.

    Abbott and Bishop are just the chumps who have to clean up the fallout now that our signals interception has been exposed- not that they are doing a very good job of it.

  10. Mahout1329: We are not just talking about the leaders themselves. We are talking about monitoring wives, relatives etc.

    Well perhaps they think they are going to get more honest talk about what the leaders are personally thinking when they talk to their family compared to when they talk with their fellow politicians.

    I think a lot of this is just political theatre (which can have real consequences in the short term). The Indonesians would have long suspected that Australia has been attempting to listen in on their conversations just as we would suspect that embassies in Australia attempt to do the same to us.

    The crime is actually getting caught doing it, at which point the target country protests for mostly domestic reasons as is expected of them (and there is an election coming up soon in Indonesia). But in the long run everyone will back doing it again, regardless of any no-spying agreements they may sign.

    For Abbott’s turn-back-the-boats policy it will have an impact as its likely Indonesia will use that as a tool to “punish” Australia. It may have impact on search and rescue efforts too – Indonesia already didn’t come out too well from the 4corners episode last night with allegations that they refused permission for Australian search and rescue planes into Indonesian airspace to look for a boat in distress (and they don’t have the same capabilities). As a result the boat wasn’t found quickly enough and many people died when it capsized.

  11. The fact that the ABC and the Guardian found these people smugglers and their contact in Australia so easily and ASIO/ASIS/AFP did not know about said criminals – they had to be alerted by the ABC & co – doesn’t say much for the efficiency of our spy agencies and their massive funding, does it?

  12. I have been fascinated at how easily journalists have accepted the intelligence world’s view that everyone does it and so it is OK.

    The general tone of views from journos and ‘experts’ on ABC this morning was, well everyone does it so what’s the big deal, they’re making a big deal of this because it’s an election year.

    Unfortunately I think that would be the view of most of the electorate, along with a few patronising and ignorant comments about Indonesia and Indonesians.

    After all we are all Aussie through and through and none of these little (insert racist epithet of choice) have any right to tell us what to do, what with all the corruption they’ve got over there.

    Someone this morning even suggested that Snowden should be eliminated by fair means or foul. A little extreme said the presenter…

  13. The fact that the ABC and the Guardian found these people smugglers and their contact in Australia so easily and ASIO/ASIS/AFP did not know about said criminals – they had to be alerted by the ABC & co – doesn’t say much for the efficiency of our spy agencies and their massive funding, does it?

    Yes, I think that the ASIO/ASIS/AFP budgets in this area should be given directly to the ABC. The people smugglers revealed on 4 Corners didn’t seem particularly smart, so what does that say about the intelligence of the intelligence agencies???

  14. 1. Support for Australia’s intelligence apparat is bipartisan.

    2. Much of the product is exchanged between the Five Eyes without ministerial oversight.

    3. The Rudd government may not have seen this product themselves.

    4. The US intelligence apparat sprung a major leak, much to Australia’s embarrassment.

    The only guarantee of prevent future fiascos of this kind is to cut links with the Five Eyes. Is the cure worse than the disease?

    5. Abbott treated Indonesia appallingly.

    6. Snowden has given Indonesia a heaven-sent opportunity to kick Abbott up the bum.

    7. Abbott has acted appallingly.

    Takeaway message: Abbott is appalling. But we all knew that already. Australia’s standing in the region has collapsed all in the interests of maintaining our relationship with a falling, failing, flailing incompetent superpower, whose vital interests are not challenged in a region where Australia’s existential interests are.

    Many Australians are to blame for this fiasco. Abbott stands at the head of this lengthy line.

  15. The general tone of views from journos and ‘experts’ on ABC this morning was, well everyone does it so what’s the big deal, … Unfortunately I think that would be the view of most of the electorate,

    The evidence suggests as much. After the complete lack of outcry that all our phones calls and internet use are sent directly to the US government, I can’t imagine any Australian being sympathetic to people who do complain. It sounds as though Abbott is on board it it, so the rot starts at the top.

  16. Moz,
    My bet is that the majority of Australians didn’t even know it was happening. Or if they did, they thought it was something happening over there, in the UK, Europe and US of A.
    Or they thought we were also law-abiding they didn’t really care.
    And they probably won’t – this will make their ears/eyes tingle – until somebody blows up the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge or something.

  17. The blunders so far:
    (1). The Indonesians have been looking for a real opportunity to have a crack at Australia – not because they are nasty but because they are a rising power and want to flex their muscles; every rising power wants to do this. So when such an opportunity presents itself, Abbott and his mob wrap it in gift-paper and tie it up with pretty ribbons. Not only was that response downright stupid but, as doing so has caused this blunder to escalate, the lives of good Australians are increasingly at risk. Suggest Mr Abbott suspend all other parliamentary business to get massive increases in the Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Procurement budgets rushed through immediately, while they still have a chance, because none of them will have any time to think of anything like that before too long .

    (2). Nobody in the Australian Embassy had the wits to rush out onto the street, immediately the scandal broke, and start smashing up anything that looked even remotely electronic – electric clocks, iPods, TV remote controls, PlayStations, FM radios, real specialist receivers, whatever – and invite passers-by to join in the smashing-up. Theatrical? Of course! Convincing? Only for the most gullible …. but the gesture would have been made and understood, by those with power and influence, to have been made. The Indonesian Ambassador would still have been recalled for consultations, Australia would still have suffered condemnation and material disadvantage …. but the damage would have been limited whereas now, the sky’s the limit in the damage Australia will suffer.

    (3). Every major blunder in security and intelligence over the past decade has been caused by our wonderful allies. Even the David Hicks and M. Habib shemozzle was caused by Australian weaklings submitting to the will of American duds and incompetents. We failed to get tough with those damned losers and tell them to either shape up or ship out. The current mess happened, in part, because we did not force them to come up to OUR standards in vetting, in personnel management and just about everything else. Now WE are the ones who are going to be punished for THEIR stuff-ups.

  18. pb@17: I assume you mean”don’t know” rather than “didn’t know”, since this latest kerfuffle is all about the ongoing spying rather than a claim that it happened but has stopped.

    There’s been considerable media coverage, even Uncle Rupert’s mob have done a bit. So claiming ignorance only really works for people who also missed stuff like the swap to Rudd and Royals (baby and song). They exist, don’t get me wrong, but there aren’t many of them.

    I agree that most people don’t care and will not care until it directly affects them in a profoundly negative way. I suspect that will take a wee while, and will probably happen in the USA first. Or more likely a secure internet will slowly replace the one we have now with ample encouragement from places like Indonesia. The real poo-flinging is happening in the IETF and other places as those bodies desperately try not to appear complicit. Otherwise we could easily end up with multiple incompatible internets, and lose the economies of scale that make it work so well.

  19. adrian @ 14, apostrophe recalled, thanks. I like to get things right and it annoys me when I don’t. Until I was 57 I wrote everything in long hand. I’ve never really adapted properly to typing.

  20. What I’m hearing today is that we really need to apologise and promise not to do it again. Apparently that’s what Obama did, but privately, not in public. SBY might demand a public apology.

    Bottom line is we need them more than they need us.

  21. Phoney Tony’s got his sincerity look on with visual aids too. Question to Susilo Bambang ..would you buy a car from this man? Now heads up Australia while I copy the Master, I will not apologize but I’m sorry if that doesn’t suit, you’ll cop what I hand out ’cause I’m a tough guy see! And don’t forget you’re a third world country so there.

  22. If the ALP was still in power I’d bet this whole spying thing would have News Limited journos thrashing around on the floor and biting the carpet in paroxysms of outrage at how incompetant Rudd/Gillard was – and all the while, anything Tony does just gets waved through by those useless f**kers.

    Have to say I only suspect that would be the case. I could check for myself but I’d rather gouge my own eyes out than click on any link to any on-line site associated with that dessicated old coconut, Murdoch.

  23. Bottom line is we need them more than they need us.

    That’s a zero sum game and it’s not true.

    The bottom line is that we are both where we are and we are both who we are. Nothing can change the former and little will change in the latter. But that is not a negative for either of us.

    While Indonesia remains a benign, unified country it is our strategic barrier to the north.

    While Australia remains a unified, underpopulated, rich Anglo/European country to its south it remains for Indonesia nothing to worry about and something to fall back on if needed.

    Each accepts that and that each needs each other more than we could either benefit from hostility between us. Our relationship with each other will continue on that premise.

  24. Oh goddess Tony Abbott is such a terrible stupid foolish person. If he were picking fights with Indonesia about real problems, it would be one thing – but nup, it’s about our right to spy on them and be mean to refugees.

    To some of you, what I am going to say next may be incomprehensible, and possibly it will get me into more trouble with moderators, but I wish to the goddess that some people on the left had not been so quick to find fault with Julia Gillard – for reasons that I continue to assert were influenced by sexism – because you, almost as much as the Murdoch media, got us in to this mess.

    If you could admit it and apologise, we could maybe go forward.

  25. And just in case anyone is thinking of referencing Christine Milne as schoolmarm or Sarah Hansen-Young as naive and sexy in their responses, please don’t – because wrong and not helpful.

  26. At the moment its descended to the ridiculous with Abbott trying to prove he’s got bigger balls than SBY, if you know what I mean. This can only end in disaster for Australia. And we have the wrong person leading the country. Thank God, so far, nobody’s fired a shot in anger.

  27. I’m in the camp of those who don’t want him to apologise, though not on nationalistic grounds of course.

    It’s not as if Australia can say with a straight face that it is sorry or promise not to do it again. An apology made in bad faith is no better than no apology at all — and perhaps worse in some settings.

    The bonus here is that Abbott’s failure to apologise disrupts his foreign policy and decreases the probability of cooperation with Indonesia. That’s an early black eye for Abbott, courtesy of the last regime, which is a kind of poetic justice, if you think about it.

    There is the possibility of disrupted trade, an increase in “boats” and eventually, that hurts Abbott. Perhaps refugee policy can be rescued yet.

    I’m not seeing a downside.

  28. GregM @9

    Australia still reaping the whirlwind following former PM John Howard’s role as Deputy Sheriff to George Dubya in the Asia/Pacific. Also, Abbott being called out for his neo-colonialist & patronising attitude towards Indonesia.

    SBY really only got fired up following Abbott’s condescending response to Indonesia’s ‘please explain’.

  29. GregM@9:
    Correct – and the Indonesians have known an uncomfortable (for us) lot about it since DSD came into existence and have always had their own counter-measures – and why shouldn’t they? Indonesia is a sovereign nation and, as such, would protect its own interests. Australia and Indonesia almost always pretend that neither is eavesdropping or stickybeaking on the other.

    I might be wrong but the impression I get is that the interception of the personal, family conversations happened over a relatively short period in 2009. If that is so then it raises more awkward questions here than if the operation had been continuous and developing. An Australian Prime Minister would be regularly presented with Top Secret ( and above) intelligence to enable her or him to do their job – but it beggars belief that a politician would be told how and from where that information came before it was processed into intelligence …. so Ratty, Kevin07, Julia and Toni are off the hook. Anyway, this is all academic now and we would be better off putting the Past aside and considering what the Indonesians will do next – and where. They’re on a winning streak now and they know it.

    Fran Barlow @ 29 and GregM @ 24:
    I do hope and pray you are right.

    Casablanca @ 30:
    Spot on!

    Val @ 25:
    Sorry but the very, very short window of opportunity to apologize has passed – forever. That’s why I said what I said on my 2nd point @18. All we can do now is try to roll with the punches and, if we are exceedingly lucky, rebuild our relations with Indonesia from the ground up over the next couple of decades.

  30. Abbott:

    “Australia should not be expected to apologise for the steps we take to protect our country now or in the past, any more than other governments should be expected to apologise for the similar steps that they have taken,”

    Good grief. Does Abbott really think that nations should be allowed to spy on each other without consequence?

    Alternatively, operatives and agents acting under Australian orders should be feeling very nervous because the corollary of Abbott’s tantrum is that, if apprehended, Australia will not acknowledge them as its own. Australia would prefer these personnel to rot in gaol rather than to acknowledge espionage activities.

    This victim of arrested emotional development needs to be removed before he does something seriously destructive to international peace. I call on the leadership of the Liberal Party to do their patriotic duty.

  31. Katz, this “victim of arrested emotional development” is currently chair of the UN Security Council, isn’t he?

    I’ve just been reeding in Bruce Hawker’s tome how as the Syrian situation was worsening Ban Ki Moon was ringing up Kevin Rudd to discuss matters at a time Rudd was being told he might lose his own seat.

  32. There is an upside to all this, perhaps. Abbott mishandles it so badly, as he is doing, that the Libs remove him as PM. I suspect that kind of truly drastic action will need to be taken to stop us sliding into war with Indonesia.
    Having just read one book on the origins of WWI and an excellent biography of Hitler I’m presently all too aware of how this can happen especially when one has a leader like Abbott who is undoubtedly dangerously pathological.Fighting, fighting, fighting, (verbally) and to hell with the destruction that comes with it should not be an option for Australia here.

    (Casey, didn’t the astrology say he’d be gone by March next year?)

  33. God alone knows what use the pantie sniffers of Australia’s security services were going to make of the information they gleaned from tapping wives’ phones. They sure didn’t do anything useful with the up to date, minute by minute information captured by the Navy section of the DSD in relation to the Balibo five. It’s a private school show, doncha know, never better led than by Lord Bereft and never more useful since then. Haw, haw, haw.

  34. Jungney @ 35
    This is weird patriarchal sexism of an old school kind – men (presumably) who don’t live up to the standards of ‘real men’ as security forces should, are characterised as “pantie sniffers”.

    Sometimes I really wonder what is going on in your thinking

  35. I’m not seeing a downside.

    You’re not looking hard enough. Downsides aplenty if Abbott plays his cards wrong, which is sure to happen.

    Of course nobody from our fearless meeja questions the basic role and competence of our ‘intelligence’ agencies…

  36. Val, what, I’ve offended against the legitimate rights to self expression of pantie sniffers, have I? Perhaps you’d like to consider that some of us have had rather more contact with various arms of the security services than you have and subsequently have formed a less than flattering view of them based on direct, personal experience. Anyway, don’t stop trying to sanitise the language and thoughts of others in the name of whatever form of political correctness moves you today.

  37. Lib trollster Mark Textor begs to differ:

    The Liberal Party’s principal pollster, Mark Textor, suggested there was a domestic political advantage to Mr Abbott’s stance. “No-one gives a rat’s arse in the real world,” he wrote on Twitter. “The bubble at work.”

    Clearly Textor thinks you can run a nation like an election campaign. The party that excites the most violent prejudices wins. It would appear that Abbott and Textor are soul mates.

    Even Bob Katter understands that as a consequence of this evolving crisis, Indonesian abattoirs may refuse to torture Australian cattle to death.

    How did these ignoramuses convince people to vote them into power?

  38. Laura Tingle has said that Abbott has taken a gamble that SBY will not be willing to escalate the issue.

    The Indonesian ambassador was told to pack more than an overnight bag.

    I think Abbott has miscalculated. Someone is going to have to lose face and I’m betting it won’t be SBY.

    Meanwhile Shorten has put some space between Labor and Abbott. He’s urging a speedy resolution and doing an Obama, which means apologising personally and promising it won’t happen again. Abbott has characterised what our spooks did a “legitimate”. I don’t think he’ll be able to hold that position.

  39. Katz @ 39:

    How did these ignoramuses convince people to vote them into power?

    Mainly, I think, by not being Labor, which began it’s own destruction on 24 June 2010. But let’s not go there!

  40. “It’s not as if Australia can say with a straight face that it is sorry or promise not to do it again.”

    Fran, why can’t we say it and mean it? If SBY was suspected of being involved in some threat to Australia, there may have been some justification. On the contrary, a friendly and respected head of state of our neighbouring country has had their and their wife’s personal phone calls hacked into.

    Do we want all and every kind of interception? Given that we’ve seen that intelligence collected can be intelligence leaked, how would it be if our intercepts, while of no value to us, were leaked and had real effects on Indonesia’s internal politics? We shouldn’t have hacked into SBY’s ‘phone calls, we should apologise and not do it again.

  41. ” … . Many Australians are to blame for this fiasco. Abbott stands at the head of this lengthy line. … .. ”

    It’s jaw-dropping to observe the way so many on this site can perceive this as being all about Abbott when the specific incident took place during Rudd’s prime ministership. Would Rudd not be at the head of your “lengthy line,” or at least somewhere up the front?

    Abbott is cleaning up a mess made by Labor, and the way he goes about it may be open to question, but ultimately the blame lies elsewhere.

  42. Russell, do you think SBY is going to accept an apology from Rudd or Gillard particularly as they are no longer even in the parliament?

    And no matter whose watch the spying happened on, it’s the way it’s being handled at this point of time that is the problem.

  43. Nope. Abbott is like a dog rolling in shit. He isn’t cleaning it up. He’s spreading it.

    The blame lies in accepting the terms of the Five Eyes, which is a reflection of our miserable sense of dependency.

  44. Abbott was the worst prime minister Australia ever had even before he had his News Corpse mates help him scam his way in. Now he’s even worse than that.

    Seriously…

    1) snubbing his nose at the rest of the world with respect to mitigating global warming
    2) giving the regime in Sri Lanka two navy vessels to curtail the flight of (overwhelmingly likely genuine) asylum seekers
    3) pissing off to a culturally deeply-visceral extent the world’s largest Muslim country

    in less than ten weeks of being in office – that’s the work of a crazy sociopath.

    Love him or loathe him, if Rudd had been PM at this time there would have been an appropriate diplomatic dance with the right words said, likely a visit to show remorse, and a further consolidating of the astonishingly good relationship that Australia and Indonesia had cultivated over SBY’s and Labor’s terms.

    I think that talk of war is vastly overstating the current likelihood of such extreme responses, but what Abbott has done is to make Australia an ASEAN pariah, and if there comes a time in the future where the US is overstretched in another theatre (It’s already close to snapping as a result of it’s recent ill-advised excursions), then the antipathy that Abbott has entrenched may well be the difference between security and conflict.

    Let’s hope that the Coalition is turfed out at the next election and a new government makes unreserved apologies to Indonesia – and asks for its ships back, and tells the world that the retreat on action to limit emissions was an unfortunate aberration resulting from a corporate bastardisation of the democratic process…

  45. Phillip at #43.

    You are demonstrating that you have in common with Tony Abbott a serious flaw – a profound lack of understanding and appreciation of the benefits of diplomacy.

  46. Good grief. Does Abbott really think that nations should be allowed to spy on each other without consequence?

    Yes, as long as they don’t get caught.

    Fran, why can’t we say it and mean it? If SBY was suspected of being involved in some threat to Australia, there may have been some justification. On the contrary, a friendly and respected head of state of our neighbouring country has had their and their wife’s personal phone calls hacked into.

    We could say it, but we wouldn’t mean it. I’d be willing to bet we do similar surveillance at times on quite a few friendly nations and they try to do the same to us. The US for example has in the past been accused of spying on allies to get advantage for US companies. We know that less friendly nations have spied and attempted to steal secrets from us. When that happens and it becomes public we publicly protest, but in the long term it doesn’t seem to affect things like trade.

    Abbott’s problem is that he currently wants a lot of cooperation from Indonesia around people smuggling policies and there is an election coming up for them. That and apologising is not really in Abbott’s DNA (it might have helped, but there would have been some consequences anyway if only for domestic political reasons).

  47. But, you see, Australia isn’t Asian, ‘we’ aren’t like them. The other 4 of our 5 eyes will look after us/ snark
    Have often felt that nothing good would come from our (pathological) need to be so close to the US. Not saying we shouldn’t be friends, but with some sense of our own needs.

  48. Chris I see your point. Still, “We could say it, but we wouldn’t mean it” would be a face-saving gesture for SBY and would help smooth things over.

    But I’m not sure we should compare what we do with the U.S. – they’re the most powerful country in the world, and we’re not.

    But seriously, why intercept the calls of SBY and his wife? What possible benefit did we get out of it, compared to the cost of it becoming known – the withdrawn ambassador and diplomatic friction?

  49. (Casey, didn’t the astrology say he’d be gone by March next year?)

    They said June. Whoever takes over is a republican …. (Malcolm come on down…)

  50. Fran, why can’t we say it and mean it?

    Because everybody spies but not everybody gets caught. Although what’s the bet that spying of the wife of the President is a bit far in anyone’s books. Once they get caught they have to do the ‘face’ thing and apologise and then everyone goes back to spying. It’s the way it works and stupid Abbott refusing to apologise now makes this a real incident, not a performance for the cameras that the ‘sorry’ would have been so that everyone could go back to business as usual. Such a stupid man is Abbott. I just can’t believe he is really so stupid.

  51. talk of war is vastly overstating the current likelihood of such extreme responses,

    OK. Armed Australian navy vessel and armed Indonesian army vessel clash at sea over a boatful of refugees. Australians, following orders from above, refuse to take refugees. Situation grows tense. Tempers fray. One side or the other lets off a spray of gunfire. The other side returns gunfire. Deaths on both sides.
    Causus belli.
    Indonesia won’t back down because of national pride and an election coming up.
    Abbott won’t back down because he thinks the Australian electorate will think he’s weak. He’s a Man. Men Aren’t Weak!! (What the Australian electorate really thinks by this time is that he’s a stupid incompetent prat.)
    Partial mobilisation ensues on both sides.
    A couple of West Papuans, taking advantage of the chaos, flee to Darwin and to teach Indonesia a lesson Abbott immediately grants them refugee status.
    Indonesia gets really pissed off.
    Abbott orders full mobilisation, moves troop north.
    One or the other of us declares war.

  52. “I just can’t believe he is really so stupid.”

    It’s weird isn’t it. We expected a change, we knew there were policies we would disgree with – you get a Barnett, you get a Baillieu/Napthine – but this is stupidity you really notice! Everything he touches.

  53. AIUI, Australia is part of some informal band of spying nations including the US which is called “five ears” or some such thing. Australia is committed to spy and trade in illicitly and illegally acquired information in order to be part of the network.

    Interestingly, apparently, years ago under Keating, when Australia was spying on Malaysia, he passed on information from bugging their cabinet room to the Indonesians, and this helped cement the relationship.

    If information is power then spying is a cross between break enter and steal and fencing stolen goods. It’s hard to imagine that Australia is ever going to give that up, which is why it really can’t apologise sincerely.

    As I said though, if Abbott doesn’t apologise, then this gets worxse for him in the longer run, which is good for all of us who regard Abbott as amongst the enemies of humanity.

    Now plainly, I’m never going to urge anyone, including Abbott, to act unethically, but if they are determined to do so, and all his fellow spivs are urging him not to apologise on jingoistic grounds, I’m allowed to see the silver lining. If this disrupts Australian-Indonesian cooperation that’s a good thing for asylum seeker policy, and maybe in the long run for a whole lot of domestic policy too. Who knows, it might help the West Papuans get a measure of autonomy.

  54. It’s a bit frightening. I thought that even if he was stupid, there would be structures in place to keep him in check. But no, why would I believe that? Every PM operates according to her or his lights and look at this, he was known as an aggressive head kicker, a junk yard dog who wouldn’t back down and what is he doing? What he’s always done. He has no idea about statesmanship, none whatsoever. His Sri Lankan episode proved that. I don’t think we will go to war over this Paul, but I do think he will destroy all the good work that Paul Keating did building relationships in Asia.

  55. This is a golden opportunity for Abbott – absolutely perfect. He could blame it all on Rudd, apologize unreservedly for the insult labor gave to Indonesia, bang on for a couple of days about how labor destroyed our most vital relations in the region – is there anything they can do right? blah blah etc. – and then have an excellent piece of fallback rhetorical artillery when he actually does by his own commission manage to put his foot in the diplomatic doodoo. The apology would work in his favour domestically because he can make it clear that it was mature Abbott who had to lose face to paper over Rudd’s paranoid foreign policy.

    But he hasn’t done that. Why not? This is the man who never let an opportunity to kick labor go by…

    I think it’s because this started with Howard after 9/11, and he knows if he tries to blame labor someone will point out that actually it was a Howard initiative. Maybe he knows there’s more in those documents Snowden has and he doesn’t want to make a fuss about something that would bring them to light.

    That, or he’s profoundly stupid, and missing a chance to bury Labor’s credibility on international relations.

  56. But seriously, why intercept the calls of SBY and his wife? What possible benefit did we get out of it, compared to the cost of it becoming known – the withdrawn ambassador and diplomatic friction?

    They didn’t think they would get caught – not with reliable evidence – and they wouldn’t have if Snowden hadn’t leaked the information he did. And as I mentioned above perhaps they thought they’d get more reliable information out of conversations between SBY and his wife and it may have been easier if he wasn’t advised of just how easy it is to intercept mobile phone calls. Mobile phone security is pretty bad. And smartphones probably make it a whole lot easier now.

    I think it’s because this started with Howard after 9/11, and he knows if he tries to blame labor someone will point out that actually it was a Howard initiative. Maybe he knows there’s more in those documents Snowden has and he doesn’t want to make a fuss about something that would bring them to light.

    I think it goes a back a lot further than that. For example the Chinese embassy was heavily bugged by Australia when it was built under the Hawke/Keating governments. Which is why now Chinese construction workers who work outside of Australian employment laws are being used to build the new one. There’s probably a lot more examples going much further back that simply haven’t become public.

    Given the recent leaks governments may need to rework their risk calculations though.

    The easy out would have been just to blame it on Rudd, but I think Abbott does deserve some credit for not taking that route. And as you mention there is always the risk then of having to apologise for something done in the Howard era.

  57. I don’t really see how blaming Rudd would be an easy option for Abbott. Any apology or other statement which appeared to be constructed to gain a domestic political advantage would be likely to be poorly received by the Indonesians. That is essentially the problem with Abbott’s public statements to date.

    Indonesian leaders aren’t interested in Australia’s intercene political disputes. They are interested in having a perceived slight redressed, and receiving assurances that Australia will not spy on the President’s family. Australia may not be able to give such assurances with full sincerity, but it’s politic to give them nonetheless.

  58. The easy out would have been just to blame it on Rudd, but I think Abbott does deserve some credit for not taking that route.

    You didn’t see 7.30 with Leigh Sales? He blamed it on the Labor govt.

  59. @43
    “Abbott is cleaning up a mess made by Labor”
    LOL, clearly you’ve never cleaned anything up, Abbott’s like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The fact of the spying is one thing and outside of the targeting of the President I don’t think we should apologise. The situation has got to where it is because Abbott is fundamentally a bumbler, a thug, a one trick pony and a very lazy man. He’s not the sort of person you get to handle complex problems in a crisis. My guess is that the whole thing will be made to go away by the transfer a large pile of cash or some other face saving maneuver, perhaps some defense materiel. Abbott must be furious that he’s taken the focus off the carbon repeal and the ‘baats’.

  60. Casey @ 64 – no sorry, have been too busy to watch TV! Only seen bits and pieces and hadn’t seen anything with Abbott blaming the ALP for it. Which may actually be a bit unfair as even Rudd the micro manager may not even have known the specifics of what the security agencies were doing because its so common.

  61. Tim, they may not be interested in internecine disputes but that is easily managed – a genuine, heartfelt apology for “mistakes of the past” by an honest and sincere new prime minister trying to set the country on a new path. Followed by a period of intense anti-labor rhetoric at home, slating all the blame on then. Anyone watching from outside would think the latter reasonable if the former was well crafted. But as patrickb observes, Abbott is too lazy and stupid for that.

    Or, he knows he’ll put the previous liberal govt in the frame during the latter period, if he tries it.

  62. FN@67, True enough. The diplomacy and the domestic point-scoring could certainly be separated effectively. Abbott has been remarkably clumsy in handling this so far.

  63. I mean really, it’s early in his first parliament, the “labor screwed it up” meme is still good to use, he’s trying to pretend he’s mature – it’s the perfect scenario for a humbling apology to an important neighbour (“see? You said he was arrogant but he’s willing to make the hard compromises”). By the next election the people in his base who think abasement to Asians is wrong will have forgotten it, and everyone else will remember the post-apology shitstorm of “Labor destroyed our most important relationship with their silly intelligence policies”. Then in a year from now when he slaps Michelle Obama on the arse or tells Pippa Middleton that “a little body contact never hurt anyone” or tries to dry-hump Queenie’s corgi, he’ll be able to say “well, at least I’m not as bad as labor!” and everyone will remember this moment.

    He’s either being profoundly stupid, or he knows he can’t blame it all on Labor …

  64. The US, while delighted with ints new Marine base in Darwin, sn’t ready yet to post a fleet in the harbour so they’ll be speaking, rather a lot, to Abbott. Sanity will prevail, but only just; its not as if relations between a genocidal Indonesian ruling class and Tony Abbott are going to be in any way rational. How could they be: the ‘Indonesian path to democracy is most often expressed by a willingness to slaughter people regarded as surplus to requirements to a Javanese ruling class with a solid track record of genocide; Abbot, well who the eff really knows?

  65. He’s either being profoundly stupid, or he knows he can’t blame it all on Labor …

    Of course he knows he can’t blame it all on Labor. National Security/operation of intelligence agencies has been a bi-partisan enterprise since 1947, if not before. It is not in his interest or in Labor’s to upset that arrangement.

    The more sensible, and time-honoured, course would be to announce a royal commission into whether the intelligence agencies have gone too far in whatever they have done.

    That would manage to bury the issue, as the government would be able to say it doesn’t want to comment as that might prejudice the work of the royal commission and that we will all have to wait until the royal commission hands down its report- at some distant time in the future-when the controversy has died down- while making it look like it is taking the matter mightily seriously by conjuring up an entity with a majestic title to handle it.

    That’s what Menzies did whenever he wanted to bury a problem, and it worked for him.

  66. It’s unlikely that anyone in the Rudd government signed off on the bugging in question. Intelligence services are afforded much independence of operational action.

    It’s possible that no minister in the Rudd government ever saw this product, and if they did it is highly probable that the source of the information was sheep-dipped before presentation.

    And it should never be forgotten that the source of the leak was the NSA of the US.

  67. And it should never be forgotten that the source of the leak was the NSA of the US.

    Which is probably another indicator that this wasn’t any special targeted spying. Just routine stuff with a copy sent to the US.

  68. Here is the DSD PowerPoint presentation in question.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/nov/18/slides-australian-yudhoyono-phone-indonesia

    Clearly, the presentation was methodological rather than substantive. It was designed to show some other Intelligence organisation (the NSA?) the activities of DSD.

    It is significant, however, that the names of the targets are provided. Clearly this slide show is a sales pitch of the DSD to assert the value of their work within the alliance. This slide show thus provides an insight into the relationships between members of the Five Eyes.

    And given that this bugging was carried out for the Five Eyes it is noteworthy that the Indonesians have made no public protest to the other Four Eyes.

  69. There is the possibility of disrupted trade, an increase in “boats” and eventually, that hurts Abbott. Perhaps refugee policy can be rescued yet.

    I’m not seeing a downside.

    well… apart from those unfortunate people who will drown on the way.

  70. There is the possibility of disrupted trade, an increase in “boats” and eventually, that hurts Abbott. Perhaps refugee policy can be rescued yet.

    I’m not seeing a downside.

    You don’t see a disruption of trade as a downside?

    So are you happy to throw away these benefits of trade between our countries?

    Of Australian food going to Indonesia for Indonesian people to eat and Australian food producers to profit from that?
    Of Australian manufactured goods going to Indonesia and Australian employees in our manufacturing industry holding employment from that?
    Of many thousands of Indonesian students coming to Australia for their education in a first class education system provided in the world’s lingua franca and many thousands of Australians getting employment from that?
    Of hundreds of thousands of Australians going on holiday in Indonesia, providing employment and a decent income to many tens of thousand of Indonesians who would not otherwise have it?

    I think you should be prepared to answer that question.

  71. if that’s your concern duncanm, I guess we should ban all activities within Australia that also lead to drowning…? Or is it only asylum seekers who are not allowed to make a consensual decision to risk drowning?

  72. duncanm

    I’m not seeing a downside.

    well… apart from those unfortunate people who will drown on the way.

    Neither Abbott nor the ALP gives a proverbial about that. Their policy is called “border protection” not “refugee safety”. It’s aimed at establishing an Australian cordon sanitaire against the existential threat posed by “boats”. Casualties are, for them, a benefit — part of the deterrence. Australian government policy is based on prejudicing the calculus in favour of perceived success in hardening the cordon.

    There can be no doubt that those adopting irregular maritime passage know that there are risks of death. They accept these. It is sad when vulnerable people die in transit, but it’s also sad when they die or are brutalised in their own countries, or live in squalid refugee camps in Malaysia or Indonesia. The fact that this suffering doesn’t make the front page of the Murdoch press doesn’t make it less real, and if Australian policies were successful in moving the suffering somewhere less visible to us by convincing the vulnerable that accepting their fate in those places was the lesser harm, Australia would bear more liability for this suffering than it does now — and in addition, also bear the responsibility for the brutality it imposed to achieve this goal.

    So if the policy breaks down and the numbers of “boats” return to pre-PNG policy levels the regime will have to admit failure and since things are as bad as they can possibly get, things can only be better — and this has the advantage of the refugees at least getting a chance to take their fate in their own hands rather than have some bunch of privileged liars use their losses to cover up a campaign of calculated xenophobia.

  73. Neither Abbott nor the ALP gives a proverbial about that

    and clearly neither do you.

    Casualties are, for them, a benefit — part of the deterrence. Australian government policy is based on prejudicing the calculus in favour of perceived success in hardening the cordon.

    .. which is why both governments (ALP and LNP) spend inordinate amount of resources fishing people from Indonesian and International waters, I presume.

    It really is a good rant you’ve got on there: Abbott666 – tick, Murdoch – tick, ‘regime’ – tick.

  74. if that’s your concern duncanm, I guess we should ban all activities within Australia that also lead to drowning…? Or is it only asylum seekers who are not allowed to make a consensual decision to risk drowning?

    We require that swimming pools be fenced off to avoid drownings.
    We post lifeguards on beaches to avoid drownings.
    We train children from an early age on how to swim to avoid drownings. We post signs on dangerous bodies of water advising people not to swim there to avoid drownings.
    We provide weather forecasts of impending storms and turbulent weather at sea to avoid drownings.
    We regulate boats as to seaworthiness and as to their carrying capacity, and enforce those regulations, to avoid drownings

    And you think that rather than do those things we should simply ban all activities in Australia that might lead to drowning?

    That is, with the greatest respect, a pretty silly debating point you are trying to make to rebut duncanm’s point that travelling in overcrowded fishing vessels, which are unfit for purpose, and often unseaworthy, over vast distances in the open ocean is an inherently risky enterprise which can lead to the drowning of those who undertake it.

  75. I agree with GregM @9.

    Several posters have mentioned DSD intercepts that showed the Australian Govt. what Indonesian armed units were doing in West and East Timor in 1975 and subsequently.

    There were presumably many intercepts showing activity in Timor before and after the referendum on East Timor’s future in 1989; some of these must have assisted Australia and the other INTEFET nations to keep their soldiers out of harm, and to protect Timorese civilians.

    The referendum was internationally-sponsored; but by that time public opinion in the US, Europe and Australia strongly supported independence for the East Timorese, if they wanted it.

    I’m not concerned at all, if the work of DSD at that time was one of the many factors helping to lower the casualties as the East Timorese battled to achieve independence.

  76. duncanm

    and clearly neither do you.

    The difference between me and you is that my regard for the vulnerable is consistent and holistic rather than a mere debating point designed to wedge those who really do care.

    which is why both governments (ALP and LNP) spend inordinate amount of resources fishing people from Indonesian and International waters, I presume.

    I don’t doubt that the Navy doesn’t want to be a party to people drowning and the regime can scarcely stop them going to their aid — that would be a PR disaster and also a breach of the Law of the Sea.

    That doesn’t show that the regime wouldn’t be perfectly happy to see 100% of them drown — for their “own good” of course.

  77. I always insisted when asked or when a topic arose,that Abbott was the most dangerous person in politics.Add that to the Labor twerptwitset,and all they do is read from the collected memories of P.Ms. past[Keating recently getting to know his ABC friends].I really do think the Indonesians are offended.And one maybe, they really would like to concentrate on their own problems,which may include refugees,but it would seem that a P.M. with a population of around 150 million isn’t allowed to do that,he must attend to the attention seeking of Abbott,because frankly the debating society doesn’t allow his backside to be noticed outside of Australian borders.I also feel that what is stopping the Indonesians generally,from disliking much more about Australians generally,is simply in English, the insights into Abbott are extensions of what they could think,and don’t need to,because well, it is suffice to hear read and possibly see,what idiots,fully spied on by Fed Police too,try very hard to claim something,that are not the problems of Indonesia.Equivalence arguments go on,about wealth ,etc. really quite pathetic seeing there are active political parties in Indonesia all vying to represent and lead people I think the best option is to get out of each others hair,as governments,not me,or anyone here, until grave circumstances arise again. There are so many potential numbers of them,that maybe already playing on the Indonesian mind,that the spying stories are just so bloody hard to want to prioritise about.Crap like Indonesian economic power etc. isn’t that clever,given the nature of the Pacific Rim and natural disasters.Indonesia isn’t expressing a new confidence.It is simply they have been forced into wondering what Australian officials are up to!?And where does Abbott really want his arse to land!?

  78. OK. Armed Australian navy vessel and armed Indonesian army vessel clash at sea over a boatful of refugees. Australians, following orders from above, refuse to take refugees. Situation grows tense. Tempers fray. One side or the other lets off a spray of gunfire. The other side returns gunfire. Deaths on both sides.
    Causus belli.

    paul burns, that is ridiculous. If China and Japan haven’t managed to actually start a shooting war during all their much more serious naval posturing, we aren’t going to be that stupid.

  79. duncanm, you didn’t answer my question! Do you advocate banning rock fishing, surfing, free diving, white water rafting and backyard pools, or is it only asylum seekers who should be prevented from making consensual decisions to risk drowning? Why?

    re: GregM’s point on intercepts, no doubt people spy on each other. But I sincerely doubt that the spies of 1975 were interested in Suharto’s private communications with his wife. That is the issue here, that is why SBY is pissed, and that is why Snowden released the info. It’s mean and low.

    SBY himself accepted that cold war states spied on allies. His point is that this is, for its time, beyond the pale.

  80. Katz@73:
    Agree. That’s similar to what I said @18 and @32 (3rd point).

    Everyone:
    If or when Indonesia and Australia do come to blows, WHICH SIDE do you think our gallant allies will be on? They have form: just ask the Hungarians, the Argentines, the pro-Baathist Iraqis. Wonder who (if any) would come to our aid and who would be circling like vultures hoping to get a beakful of carrion?

    If or when Indonesia and Australia do come to blows, the novel and film “Tomorrow When The War Began” would be overly optimistic, i.m.h.o.

    Two words everyone should learn right now: Jangan tembak! (Don’t shoot!)

  81. According to Alexander Downer it’s all the Guardian’s fault and Snowden’s:

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2013/s3895646.htm

    There’s a bit of an incongruity around the venom of Downer’s stance because he vociferously supports the “neither confirm or deny” response, which would seem to render any particular media leak or allegation impotent, and yet Ol’ Fishnet has a tanty about the ‘secret’ getting out. He’s also down on Obama’s more diplomatic response to Merkel – one would think that with his time in foreign relations and fishnets Alexander would have better learned the dance…

    Oh, and there’s a hilarious slip at one point of his sermon:

    I think I would say in the circumstances where The Guardian chose to publish this material which had been stolen by Edward Snowden, a shocking situation, a shocking situation, what can the Western alliance countries do in this situation as one embarrassing revelation – or allegation – after another comes out.

    In Downer’s signature disconnected world it’s not bad to do bad things (that everyone knows about or suspects, anyway…), it’s only bad to tell the world that those bad things are being done, especially when one has been embarrassed by the telling – and by one’s diplomatic ineptitude in response.

  82. The post-911 security environment has become every spies’ dream. Spies spy on people, it’s what they do. The problem here is that no-one in government lifts a finger to restrain the spooks. It is entirely possible that no-one in the government, as opposed to the spy agencies, was aware of this. It is very likely it was carried out on a US request on an agency-to-agency basis. That doesn’t exonerate the government in 2009 or the government in 2013.

    I don’t think Indoensia is using this as a chance to flex their muscles. Yudhoyono, and Nagatelawa have been consistent friends to Australia for a very long time, so much so it was an issue in the 2009 presidential election where the opposition candidates included Prabowo, Suharto son-in-law and former head of special forces in East Timor and former commander of KOSTRAD, Suharto’s praetorian guard.

    Spying on a friendly chief of state is not a good idea. Spying on a friendly chief of state at the request and for the benefit of the US is simply insane. To the extent Abbot sees this as a problem at all, it pales for him beside the idea of interfering with the flow of intelligence to the US under the UKUSA/Five Eyes arrangements.

    The cynical and discourteous, almost brutal, response of the Abbot government is very likely to destroy the careful work of building our relationship with Indonesia that characterised Howard, Rudd and Gillard. One wonders what Abbot’s response if an Indonesian security agency tapped his phone would be.

    Abbot’s career has been about soundbites he could pass off as policy. The everyone spies on everyone theory is just more of the same. Evidently Abbot has no interest in stopping the big new intercepts. Abbot’s refusal to acknowledge the problem is going to do grave damage to one of our most important international relationships. It’s also proof that for Abbot it’s not Jakarta or Geneva, it’s Washington, Washington, Washington.

  83. Selamat pagi. You may find the latest article on The Interpreter website useful in understanding SBY’s responses (sorry, for some reason the link I try to put here keeps failing).

    Anyway, the crass and long-established Australian business and political tradition of failing to look at things from the other fellow’s point of view is at the heart of the problem – yet again.

    We won’t get away with such arrogant and wilful stupidity this time – because this time we have enraged a nation that is ambitious and knows that it is a rising power – and we did this at the worst possible time.

  84. Graham Bell: it is worrying how old fashioned some of the views are from some people in this field. No acceptance yet that this is the Asian century. But more significantly, no understanding of the current communications environment. There is something ultra modern about having a spat over mobile phone calls and twitter being used for conveying messages. Maybe this is why the PM doesn’t quite get it – yet. David Pope’s cartoon in today’s Canberra Times where he sets up the current imbroglio as a change of relationship status on Facebook is a helpful insight.
    And I have to laugh when they pontificate about intelligence assets when this kind of spying can be done by every day people. There is nothing special about the art of this kind of espionage. This ‘game’ is not limited to initiated insiders. Maybe that is what is causing so much anxiety.

  85. duncanm, you didn’€™t answer my question! Do you advocate banning rock fishing, surfing, free diving, white water rafting and backyard pools, or is it only asylum seekers who should be prevented from making consensual decisions to risk drowning? Why?

    I’ll tell you what.

    When fathers force their children to sit on the water’s edge whilst they rock-fish, free-dive with them, and go white-water rafting, then we can discuss making laws about it.

    We already have laws regarding pools — maybe you’d like to enforce some minimum safety standards on the asylum seeker vessels?

    btw – rock fishing (THE most dangerous sport in Australia) has about 100 drowings/year. Thousands have died in leaky boats trying to reach Australia.

  86. duncanm, either those parents make their kids sit on a leaky boat because a) they have no concern for their children or b) they have a very good reason, and are making a choice about risk that we should not curtail.

    Do you think they are in category a) or b)?

    How do you know thousands have drowned? And out of what population? What is the population of rock fishers?

  87. duncanm, either those parents make their kids sit on a leaky boat because a) they have no concern for their children or b) they have a very good reason, and are making a choice about risk that we should not curtail.

    There is also:

    c) They end up taking a risk they did not intend to take in the first place but were mislead

    For example from the 4 corners program this week asylum seekers were shown pictures of a totally different boat and when they questioned the quality of the boat that did arrive they were told that it was only to take them out to the bigger, better boat. Combine that with threats about police being ready nearby to arrest them it’d be enough to coerce a lot of people to take the risk. By the time they find out the truth its too late.

    Anyway I agree with Fran above. The aim of the ALP/LNP policies is border security, not the safety of refugees. We’d act very differently if it was. For example seizing sea-worthy boats and arresting people who crew the boats when they arrive just leads to un-seaworthy boats being used and inexperienced crews which makes for a much more dangerous trip.

  88. Katz 95

    Mark Textor is symptomatic of how dangerous Twitter can be for one’s reputation. Of course he’s not the first to have tweeted something that on reflection he might have regretted.

    The irony is that Textor has advocated the trawling by employers of potential employees’ Twitter statements because it will show their true character.

    The lesson: stay away from Twitter. Nothing good can come from a putting a 140 character brain fart on the public record.

  89. Sam @ 100 – also a lesson on why apologising quickly is much better than digging an even bigger hole for yourself!

  90. Morrison is prosecuting “Operation Sovereign Borders” not “Operation Lifesaver”.
    If we were serious about saving reffos from drowning we’d provide them with safer alternatives (like air transport). We certainly wouldn’t be contemplating towing them back (™ Tony Abbott).

  91. Perhaps a larger ramification from Abbott’s handling of this is the message it sends to our other (potential) allies throughout Asia – and it’s pretty ugly.

  92. AIUI, Australia is part of some informal band of spying nations including the US which is called “five ears” or some such thing.

    Abbott’s the Wild Front Ear.

  93. Given the fear, partly manufactured by the ALP, of an Abbott government this episode with the Indonesians is heaven sent, or something. What incompetence! Who would have guessed that it would all turn to sh*t so rapidly. It was clear that Abbott wasn’t born to rule; he was born to punch holes in walls in the interests of those who do actually rule. He’s a bovver boy, a front line ideological shock trooper who has, to my great delight, decided to throw a few hooks at those darkies up there on the islands while everybody else kind of holds their breathe. Who could ask for more? I predict that next years Wharf Review will be a sellout!

    Julie Bishop, in Washington DC this a.m., looked like she’d recently received an education in realpolitik.

  94. Thanks David, but this guy wins the internets today – or at least the AGE letters page (which is pretty much buried as far as the online site is concerned, which is a shame.)

    Indonesia would be wasting its time trying to gather intelligence from here.

    Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

  95. Five Go To Java Island

    Tony Pulls It Off

    The Famous Five and the Lycra Lizards of Komodo

    The Diary of a Krakatoa Sceptic

  96. Rudd stated that one in twelve who set out for Australia drown. 50000 odd made it here through the glory years of the Rudd/Gillard humanity. Do the maths.

  97. About the Textor stuff: ‘#Fairfaxdemandsappeasement

    That’s a brainfart in the same way Mel Gibson giving his opinions on geopolitics while drunk is a brainfart.

    Now we know why he didn’t go and join Lynton in the UK—it is the strife torn capital of occupied Eurabia, after all.

  98. 4200 lives saved if Rudd & Gillard hadn’t let their hatred of Howard, pretending to be humane ala Julian Burnside, pervert their common sense. Pair of twisted bigots.

  99. No, no Smithy, 4200 lives saved if Rudd and Gillard had not continued Howard’s xenophobic policy.
    I repeat, if you don’t want them to risk their lives on boats you must provide a safe alternative. Fortress Australia is not humanitarian. They’re not going to stop coming until the conditions they flee from are removed.
    But this is really off topic. Why don’t you take it to the Overflow Thread.

  100. Yeah Smithy, that’s roughly 4200 lives we could have saved if we had a humanitarian refugee policy.

    How would that humanitarian refugee policy work Zoot?

    Would we ask asylum seekers who arrived in Indonesia to go to our embassy in Jakarta and register to onward passage to Australia?

    If so would we then arrange their flight to Australia within a reasonably short period, say two weeks, so that their claims under the refugee convention could be assessed upon their arrival in Australia?

    Or would we, under a humanitarian refugee policy, ask them, after they had registered at our Jakarta embassy, to wait while we assessed their claims against the criteria of the refugee convention, which could take quite some time?

    If the latter they might become impatient at the delay and fearful that their claims would be refused. Should we then, as a humanitarian gesture, issue them with a lifejacket against the possibility that they might be so rash at to turn to an ocean crossing in order to make their claims for asylum in Australia?

    And what of those who decide not to use the services of our refugee registration centre in Jakarta and who decide instead to take to boats going to Christmas Island? Do we just ignore them (as we do now) and send them packing to Nauru or PNG, or do we still accept them even though to do this will encourage drownings on the high seas?

    However you may have some other humanitarian refugee policy in mind that would come with a sure-fire guarantee that no asylum seekers would ever again take to sea in boats so as to get to Australian territory in order to claim asylum and would therefore never again be at risk of drowning.

    If so please share it with us.

  101. Moderator note: Actually Zoot has the right idea. Debating whether our asylum seeker and border protection policies should be what they currently are is not on topic on this thread. Stick to discussing the diplomatic aspects of the policy as it currently exists under the Abbott government and how the spying revelations are likely to affect its implementation as per the OP, and take digressions to Overflow.

  102. Hear that zoot?

    [Moderator note: why should zoot be hearing what was being directed primarily at you? Welcome to the pre-moderation filter.]

  103. GregM, since no such policy exists that will prevent people jumping on boats, maybe we should accept that people fleeing tyranny are going to take risks we don’t really like, and be a little bit more level-headed about it instead of panicking and buying boats and stopping boats and turning back boats and doing anything except think about the needs of the people on the boats …

    [Moderator note: time for this policy tangent to go to Overflow.]

  104. Well, if Ms. Gillard could explain how all this loss of privacy over the past 10 years protected the British people from the bus bombings in 2007, I might listen to her glib lies. But she can’t and it didn’t, so she’s just making excuses when she trots out that old trade-off.

  105. Agree fn.

    And is Gillard suggesting that Australia will learn more about terrorists by bugging the Indonesian president’s wife?

    Follow through the line of reasoning that sustains that assertion. It constitutes the deepest insult and offence to a friendly ally.

    Given that Obama is arming salafists in Syria, some of whom are undoubtedly Australian, the ASD would be more productively employed bugging Barack and Michelle.

  106. Yes fn, that is a pretty pathetic justification for a surveillance state.

    Good ole jellyfish ALP. Bill ‘all the way with Team Australia’ Shorten would surely agree with Gillard.

  107. the Guardian reported yesterday that the US started unrestricted spying on UK nationals in May 2007. The bus bombings were in July. Good to see that their enhanced scope for unlimited surveillance helped prevent that …

  108. Mahaut 1329 @96:
    Heartily agree.

    Thanks for your enlightening insight into this issue. (It is so as to read informative insights or points-of-view like yours that I keep coming to Larvatus Prodeo – even though I might disagree with you from time-to-time).

    Heartily agree with Katz @ 95 too. Given “our(??)” decision-makers’ attitudes to and misunderstanding of The Asian Century, I would expect Mark Textor and his ilk to be seriously considered for sensitive appointments somewhere in ASEAN or in East Asia.

    mOnty@ 88:
    Causus belli? The one Paul Burns suggested @ 55 is a fairly stock-standard one. Try the Football War in Central America or the War of Jenkin’s Ear between Britain and Spain a relatively trivial start to a war. As for the current conflict of interests between Japan and China, that’s similar to many of the near-misses between Empires in the 19th Century, such as the Fashoda Incident (well, so far, I hope).
    Some wars started without any causus belli at all and historians have had to make one up.

  109. Regarding the white board marker (wbm) and the pron star tweet, I feel that that tweet was deliberate. Shortly before the pron star tweet, wbm was pontificating about how this would play out well for TA and the uselessness of twitter bubbles. I guess in the mind of the wbm and his fellows, there is nothing more guaranteed to bring out the patriotic bullies than an undifferentiated mass of others burning a few Aussie flags. They must have been so disappointed that the rent a crowd that turned up yesterday was so small and the flag burning so pathetic (the average Australian does more insult to the flag each time they toss their junk-mail).

  110. the Guardian reported yesterday that the US started unrestricted spying on UK nationals in May 2007. The bus bombings were in July. Good to see that their enhanced scope for unlimited surveillance helped prevent that …

    These things are never absolute though, its always in terms of reducing/increasing probabilities. It doesn’t mean that in some circumstances surveillance is reasonable.

    I’m not a supporter for mass unrestricted surveillance and governments should in the vast majority of cases have to get court approval first. I find it appalling that federal MPs are being monitored without warrants and that has a real impact on the ability of whistleblowers to reveal important information.

  111. Graham Bell: I enjoy your insights and, as well from time to time, disagree. I value that as I look for more than mere reinforcement of my own thinking.
    Re going to war without setting out to do so: I think it would not be so easy now as there are so many diverse voices in the public space and too many people who would understand the implications of war. (I hope).

  112. They actually “catch” quite a lot of people, in terms of identifying potential terrorist cells and possible threats. The difficulties are: (1) proving that someone was conspiring to commit an act of terror is difficult in the absence of the attempt to do it; (2) there are real questions about whether, ad when, arrests should be made; and (3) int eh absence of an actual act of terror, it is not particularly newsworthy or likely to attract public attention. There is also some reluctance to publicly reveal all that is known in the intelligence community, for reasons that are – to use the cliche – operational.

  113. Terry@132:
    There is a world of difference between what is reliably known and almost certain on one hand …. and what can be proved in one of our Courts of Law on the other. Sadly, however much good they are in other matters, the Courts of Law alone are woefully inadequate in preventing the murder and maiming innocent citizens.

    The operational necessity to avoid helping enemies, rivals, opponents, potential murderers, ruthless criminals pretending to be defending their religion or ideology, terrorists, etc. is real enough. Unmasking too much of what is secret will get good people, doing a terrific job on our behalf, killed.

    That said …. there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for the incompetents, the vain and careless, the opportunists and other scum-of-the-earth hiding their own blunders behind the shield of “operational necessity”.

    I thought that when a commissioner responsible for oversight of security and intelligence matters, all that nonsense would come to an end.

    Obviously not. Well, give her more teeth then.

  114. Everyone:
    I am quite surprised by reports about the mildness of Indonesian reactions at the moment. The Indonesian government’s attitude seems to be offended (and so they should!) and yet conciliatory – though no doubt Australian business, academia and government will suffer enduring disadvantages because of the mishandling of the blunder.

    Indonesian people have taken to the streets in some places burning flags and images of PM Abbott (and who can blame them?).

    yesterday evening, it looked as though armed conflict might be avoided altogether.
    The United States would be a sure-fire winner: supply both sides

    Despite there being overwhelming advantages for everyone (except the Australians) to have an armed conflict break out, it hasn’t happened so far.

  115. ((previous one accidently sent before comment was finished …. as I was saying ….))
    The United States would be a sure-fire winner: supply both sides and still retain their bases and their investments (just change the second flag on their flagpoles, that’s all).

    The Indonesians have a heck of a lot of inducements to resort to armed conflict:
    They are a rising power and, in this incident, they hold or have abandoned to them ALL the moral highground.
    They certainly wouldn’t say no to occupying and exploiting huge swags of mineral, grazing, fisheries and potential agricultural resources (that’s one certain way to get vertical integration in your meat industry) and cease-fire negotiations could be dragged out for half-a-century if needs be.
    Despite Australia being the chief office-boy in the Security Council, Indonesian would have overwhelming support in the UN General Assembly – and outside the UN too.
    The days when TNI would allow the massacre of civilians are long gone; they learnt a lot from the independence of TimorLeste: no doubt the world’s media would be imbedded with TNI units to see and report all the fun.
    TNI is now too sophisticated to allow any harm at all to come to Chinese, Japanese or any other foreign/offshore investments in their area of operations.

    So many green lights are on and yet the Indonesians have not escalated the situation.

    I’m grateful – very grateful – and I hope and pray that eventually our two nations will again enjoy harmonious and mutually beneficial relations.

  116. Abbott has sent The Letter off.

    I hope he hasn’t composed it. That is because he still communicates in
    Sloganese.

    The ABC has him telling the nation that ‘there will be bad days and better days’. I have heard that one before. Yawn.

    He told us that his job was to improve the important relationship with Indonesia. Fail.

    He reminded us yet again that SBY was a great friend of Australia’s. Perhaps the best yet.

    Why can’t the man communicate?

  117. Abbott and Bishop spent weeks verballing the Indonesians over their attitude to the Abbott regime’s refugee policy.

    Gently at first the Indonesian government demurred at the regime’s misrepresentation of discussions between its principals and the Indonesian government.

    Finally exasperated by the regime’s insulting inveteracy, the Indonesian government took the determined step of releasing the transcript of one discussion between the two Foreign Ministers. It was quite clear from that transcript who was lying about the substance and tone of the meeting.

    Unrepentant, the Abbott regime continued to apply a self-serving optimistic gloss upon the increasingly strained relations between itself and the Indonesian government.

    It was not difficult for the Guardian to perceive that Edward Snowden’s Aladdin’s Cave of documentation may contain something that pertains to Australian-Indonesian relations and that the Abbott regime had generated the tensions perfect for its disclosure with maximum impact. It is worth speculating that if Abbott had not so badly botched Australian-Indonesian relations, then the Guardian may not have played its DSD card.

    It is also worth considering whether the US has adequately briefed its accomplices in the Five Eyes Agreement as to the likely nature of the material divulged by Edward Snowden. Surely the Australian government ought to know what their intelligence services have given to the US. Facing such a predicament it is prudent to suspect the worst.

    It would appear from the Abbott regime’s cavalier, reckless, dismissive and insulting behaviour towards the Indonesians, it has deliberately decided not to pursue a policy of prudence.

    Many Australians may live to regret the boorishness of the Abbott regime.

  118. I have just heard Abbott again.

    I feel I am in an English as second language class.

    HE IS A GOOD FRIEND.

    HE IS A GOOD FRIEND OF AUSTRALIA.

    HE IS THE BEST FRIEND.

    Repeat after me.

    I hope you are not right Katz and we pay a terrible price for the boorishness of this government.

    There must be a high level of boorishness in the land for people to have voted for it. It was there for all to see.

  119. The Thursday (21/11) Australian must have helped a lot. Front page has Abbott staring out aggressively under a heading which reads “Abbott stands firm in spying row. (And a much smaller photo of Abbott shaking hands with Hudoyono) Then there is Greg Sheridan criticizing Obama for apologizing to Merkel, Shanahan demanding that Shorten show bipartisanship, Downer more or less saying what is all the fuss about and…
    I guess the media sells more copy when there is a conflict but there are limits.

  120. And so it starts:

    Immigration offices in a number of provinces have taken different measures in dealing with boat people heading to Australia through Indonesian waters, following the escalating political tension between Indonesia and Australia.

    In North Sumatra, the head of immigration at the Law and Human Rights Agency, Rustanov, said that no special surveillance of boat people heading to Australia would be conducted.

    “We have no business with Australia. Let boat people head there. No surveillance is needed,” Rustanov told The Jakarta Post in Medan, North Sumatra, on Friday.

    http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/11/23/n-sumatra-loosens-control-over-boat-people.html

    Who’s gunna stop these boats, Tones?

  121. Indeed Katz. And I expect more feathers will fly as this circulates. I wonder if it will be included in the “Talking Pictures” segment of Insiders.

  122. @145 I suspect that if KRudd was PM when this spying revelation was made he would have handled it in a different manner and this evolving shitstorm would not exist. It is Abbott who has made himself the focus, or, if I might say, the butt of this cartoon.

  123. It’s a wonder to behold: Abbott has run into the brick wall at the end of his version of history and it is called Indonesia; ruled by the Dutch East India Co., from about the mid-1600’s to the collapse of The Company, whereon it was ruled by the Netherlands’ state with less sympathy than The Company, until independence in 1949.

    Abbott’s response is so far removed from any genuine understanding of post-colonial reality that it is at least hallucinatory and at worst psychotic.

    Indonesia is the post-colonial model of how to get rid of the left, which it did, in ways that mirror the partition of India and Pakistan, through horrific communal violence. It is both a nation and a country without a left; the left was slaughtered and is gone, culturally, genetically and as a force. Terror reigns as much in Java as it does in West Papua and as it once did in Timor Leste.

    So, Abbott decides to lead with his scrotum into this sh*t fight of Islamic nationalism which has legitimate grievances with whitefellas. Nice moves, Tones.

    As to future generations of Australians regretting Abbott’s boorishness: oh, I don’t know. Any Australian Government worth its national purpose would right now be planning to stir up bucket loads of shit in Irian Jaya, or any defence department with intelligence ought to be doing so, if that isn’t any oxymoron.

  124. @146 Once again, credit where it is due, and fair’s fair: Were Rudd PM when the spying revelations were published, he would have demonstrated his diplomatic buffoonery ineptness.

    Do you think he would have called the Indonesians “Ratf@ckers” or did he have another word for them?

    Much as it may hurt, especially for those of us who don’t much care for Abbott, he is handling the situation much better than Rudd ever could.

  125. CharleneM@145:
    It is unlikely that ANY Prime Minister since Menzies actually got to learn what the secret ingredients were in the intelligence product they were given …. it is far more likely they would have known the secret herbs-&-spices in Kentucky Fried Chicken or the secret formula that gives Coca-Cola its flavour …. politicians must be trusted with the intelligence product, that’s part of the deal, but only a lunatic would allow a politician access to all the intricacies of the process that created that intelligence product.

    Ratty, Rudd, Julia and Toni certainly knew quite a bit of the What and a little bit of the Who and a hint of the When, sufficient for their decision-making needs, …. but that’s all …. and definitely not the How nor the Why nor all the other questions. They simply do not need to know such detail. Even if this was the most perfect democracy that ever existed, telling too much detail puts lives at risk.

    That said, there must be firm yet workable restraints and limits on how and where intelligence organizations work …. otherwise they might fall under the control of evil or deluded men and so descend into becoming a state-within-a-state or a criminal cartel.

    The blundering behaviour of the present Australian government towards the understandably angry Indonesians shows the wisdom of not telling politicians all the details of how their intelligence product is made. Can you imaging what Mr Abbott or Madam Bishop would accidently let slip in public if they knew all the nuts-&-bolts of their own intelligence operations?

  126. “It is both a nation and a country without a left; the left was slaughtered and is gone, culturally, genetically and as a force. Terror reigns as much in Java as it does in West Papua”

    Jungney, how well do you know Java and West Papua? I don’t know Papua at all and I hardly know Java: I first saw it in 1972, lived there for a couple of years in the 80s (and briefly became a useful idiot for an opposition group) and have visited since – most recently a couple of months ago. I really don’t think that terror reigns in Java.

    A lot of the ‘left’ were murdered, two generations ago, in Indonesia, but did terror against the regime’s opponents in Russia or China wipe out those ideas? What we think of as ‘left’ took other cultural and political forms in Indonesia.

  127. Jungney @ 147:

    Indonesia is the post-colonial model of how to get rid of the left, which it did, in ways that mirror the partition of India and Pakistan, through horrific communal violence.

    That particular episode may well have saved Indonesia from the horrors of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Dear Leader Kim’s North Korea and Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam. Serendipity in a nutshell.

  128. Charlene M @ 148 – who knows how Rudd would have handled hostilities?

    I don’t think his govt would have provoked the Indonesians with threats to their sovereignty long before the spying scandal arose.

    Abbott’s handling to date has been appalling.

    The alarming part for me is that he doesn’t look too bothered.

    I think it is because he is on sure ground. For him. He seeks conflict.

    It makes me nervous to have a gladiator as PM.

  129. Describing the massacre of a 1 million people as serendipitous? Are you fucking insane?

    Democidal …

  130. Someoneiusedtoknow @152 and Fran B @ 154 – I didn’t read Golly’s remark as you have.

    It doesn’t appear to me that he/she described massacres as serendipitous.

    I think Golly was saying that Indonesia’s pathway to democracy, although bloody, did not bring to power a murderous regime and that was a happy accident.

    Serendipitous in other words.

  131. Sceptic

    I think Golly was saying that Indonesia’s pathway to democracy, although bloody, did not bring to power a murderous regime and that was a happy accident.

    Except that it did. Most of us are aware of East Timor and the mass murder that operated there, but dissent at home continued to be murderously suppressed by the Soeharto regime as well. West Papua is still held of course.

    Put more accurately, the massacres that began in 1965 that resulted perhaps in 500,000–> 1.5 million deaths, brought to power a brutal western-approved regime that continued to murder people, albeit on a lesser scale than was the case in Cambodia post-1975.

    Serendipity is not an apt term for this process. Politically-driven mass murder is not somthing innocuous or whimsical or theoretical which turns out to have an unanticipated benefit.

    The Pol Pot comparison is outrageous, because the situations in Indochina and Indonesia were quite different.

  132. Russell: well said. I am no expert on Indonesia as during visits my contacts have been at the technical level. But I have contact with Indonesian students and academics at uni and there is no suggestion of a terror regime in Indonesia.

  133. @148

    Do you think he would have called the Indonesians “Ratf@ckers” or did he have another word for them?

    *cough “allegedly”… This recollection of events in 2009 surfaced around 2013, right about the time Tony Abbott was offering his trenchant analysis of the escalating Syrian situation : “It’s not goodies versus baddies: it’s baddies versus baddies.” This was TA’s public position, staunchly bulwarked by his putative expert on Foreign Affairs Ms Bishop.

  134. Holy Frankovian Pinochets golly … you’re right. The massacre of a million lefty’s prevented a corrupt bloodthirsty regime.

    Also while not specifically talking about asylum seeker policy and its rights and wrongs – people board those boats in another jurisdiction. In Indonesia actually. What happens there isn’t Australia’s responsibility – acting like it is reflects a mentality that has no regard for Indonesian sovereignty. It reflects Abbott’s condescending attitude re the spying scandal. If I were Indonesian I’d see it as a continuum – both things reflect an attitude of inherent superiority.

    BTW Free West Papua.

  135. Golly’s characterisation of the Indonesian massacres is either laughably simplistic, or dangerously naive, or both.

    Frighteningly, Golly may even be old enough to vote.

  136. Fran @ 156

    I accept your views.

    Mine was a simple remark directed at Golly’s use of the word ‘serendipitous’ and in no way referred to the essence of his assertion.

    I am unqualified to comment about murderous regimes in Asia.

    I agree ‘serendipitous’ is a bit Mary Poppins in this context.

  137. I was attempting a little counterfactual history. The evidence we have with regards socialist counter insurgencies and the 30 or so socialist regimes of the 20th century is that Indonesian pre-emptive strike on the socialists was a stitch in time that saved nine. But that is just my humble opinion and I could easily be wrong. Also, imo, such brutality is not justified by a the ends justifies the means argument.

  138. Well your counterfactual history leaves alot to be desired. Firstly, it wasn’t a counterfactual. It was a cavalier endorsement of democide. A counterfactual would have explained how Indonesia would have turned into Pol Pot’s Cambodia or whatever ridiculous assertion you were trying to make by grouping Ho, Pol Pot, Kim and Soekarno together as essentially interchangeable.

    And despite your claim that you don’t think ‘the ends justifies the means’ you endorse it again here;

    The evidence we have with regards socialist counter insurgencies and the 30 or so socialist regimes of the 20th century is that Indonesian pre-emptive strike on the socialists was a stitch in time that saved nine.

    Link to the evidence please.

  139. And despite your claim that you don’t think ‘the ends justifies the means’ you endorse it again here

    No I didn’t. One can acknowledge the fortunate consequences of an act but not endorse the act itself. If you are genuinely interested, look up deontology.

    Link to the evidence please.

    Type communist regimes war famine death toll into Google and follow the links. Then search on communist COINs. Then search on the link between socialism and famines and poverty related death. Currently the major source of socialist death might be the periodic state induced famines that hit North Korea and that have resulted in new born North Koreans being on average 7 inches shorter than their South Korean counterparts.

  140. Golly’s holding hard to the line established by Harold Holt when he was quoted in the NYT as saying about the Indonesian massacre of the left:

    With 500,000 to a million communist sympathisers knocked off…I think it’s safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.

    Russell @ 150. You are undboutedly correct in saying that the left wasn’t entirely exterminated and that cultural opposition, like Rendra, became the main form of dissent. Nevertheless, the sheer scale of the killings and their recency means that the Indonesian left, especially those attempting to build trades unions, operates under a regime of terror no less severe for it having been, as you say, ‘two generations ago’. People don’t ever forget a history like that which means that contemporary political options are severely curtailed by fear of violent reprisal.

  141. I would just like to point out, if I may, that quite a few former Colombo Plan Students who had studied in Australia died or were disappeared when Soebandrio and the PKI were wiped out.

  142. Currently the major source of socialist death might be the periodic state induced famines that hit North Korea

    The DPRK is an autarky controlled by a kind of military gang. The DPRK is what the mafia would look like if it had state power for a long time. The rule is dynastic in character and the manner of dealing wioth anyone who falls out of favour mediaeval — with modern technology.

    While it’s fair to note the near complete absence of private property, that doesn’t qualify this regime as socialist, as there are no organised groups of workers or even ex-workers anywhere near power, nor are any such in prospect.

    What both Cambodia and North Korea had in common was being on the wrong end of a violent and sustained assault which utterly disrupted governance and saw large cross sections of the educated populace wiped out. Mororver, both states were/are contiguous making it easy for a fairly narrow gang to impose copntrol over the jurisdictions.

    In North Korea’s case, the Chinese had an interest in keeping the agents of the US from its doorstep and backed the regime, whereas in Cambodia, the whole country simply wilted under the impact of the assault by the US. Whole layers of the Khmer Rouge closer to the Vietminh in their outlook were wiped out and this strengthened the peasant atavists Pol Pot. Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary.

    Nothing in the program of Pol Pot resembled even the Stalinist road to socialism — quite the reverse. Deindustrialisation was effected with a view to returning to the usages of the middle ages. This was a walk in the opposite direction of modernity. Interestingly, the hatred of the KR regime for Vietnam’s post 1975 regime meant that the US backed it indirectly in an effort to bleed Vietnam.

    What any of this had to do with post-65 Indonesia is hard to see.

  143. golly @ 166.
    See Fran @ 167.
    It proves what a [redacted ~ Mod] you are.
    It also proves you know nothing, golly, when it comes to either socialism or communism and what little you have picked up is wrong.

    [Mod note: it wasn’t a swear word, but we do ask that you keep it cordial]

  144. “You are undboutedly correct in saying that the left wasn’t entirely exterminated and that cultural opposition, like Rendra, became the main form of dissent.”

    Jungney, I didn’t say that. My knowledge only comes from a very local, lived experience, but my impression was that the main form of dissent was talks in mosques. I (stupidly) helped disseminate those talks – they were recorded on cassettes and distributed widely.

    I’m not sure how extensively students were organised but they were distributing photocopies of stuff which was or would have been banned. But there were many other forces – Suharto was in charge but he didn’t control everything in that huge and dispersed country. People in government and organisations were able to use his language of “development” to introduce progressive “social development” policies, for example.

    Independent trade unions were brutally suppressed but what has changed there is the now independent media. When I was living there the government just shut down Tempo – that taught the others a lesson, but that isn’t happening now. There’s so much to celebrate about Indonesia’s recent political history that it’s a pity to be stuck in the negatives of the past.

  145. Russell:

    “…There’s so much to celebrate about Indonesia’s recent political history that it’s a pity to be stuck in the negatives of the past…”.

    I’m not stuck in the negatives of the past at all. I’m in the present as a realist which means that I assert that history has consequences one of which, in this case, is that the left of Indonesia was slaughtered in the 1960’s with the consequence that it is a now a deformed democratic project.

    After which I agree to disagree with you.

  146. Russell, @171 you said

    There’s so much to celebrate about Indonesia’s recent political history that it’s a pity to be stuck in the negatives of the past.

    Heartily agree. Some things in Indonesia may be far from perfect but Indonesia has come a long way in a very short time – and that’s one of the reasons I keep calling it a rising power …. not because of its considerable military power and its national confidence alone but because of all the progress – in many fields – in Indonesia – thanks to Habibi’s legacy, in my opinion.

  147. not because of its considerable military power and its national confidence alone but because of all the progress – in many fields – in Indonesia – thanks to Habibi’s legacy, in my opinion.

    Would this be the Habibi who persuaded Suharto to buy the East German Navy in the early 1990s, which the Germans had planned to sell for scrap, at a knock-down price only to find that a navy built for the Baltic Sea was not fit for purpose for an archipelago surrounded by deep oceans and straddling the equator?

    Or the Habibi who wanted to declare war on Australia in the depth of the East Timor crisis only to be told by his generals that that wasn’t an option as Indonesia would lose?

    Habibi is a nutcase and the only reason Suharto made him vice-president in 1998 was that he thought that if ever his opponents closed in to force him to resign as President they would baulk at replacing him with a nutcase like Habibi.

    And Indonesia’s considerable military power? Who are you kidding? They have a very small army and most of it is on garrison duty to hold their country together. Their navy isn’t capable of basic search and rescue missions. Their airforce is lucky to get off the ground in any numbers.

    They spend less than a third of the money we do on their military defence- (less than $7 billion p.a. to our $26 billion).

    They realise that no-one would want to invade them and that they have better things to do with their money.

  148. Jungney, it isn’t one or the other, it’s both things at the same time. The Indonesian government, then or now, isn’t all bad or all good. But progress should be recognised.

  149. GregM@175:
    Indeed it is the very same gentleman …. and a heck of an improvement on Suharto.

    Before you start pontificating on nutjobs in power, perhaps you had better at a few of Australia’s own nutjobs:

    The Silver Budgie and his get-rich-quick privatization and globalization – which resulted in making a few very, very rich but took the rest of us from prosperity to poverty in less than a generation, which gave us impossible-to-break monopolies and cartels, which took us from near independence to re-colonialization.

    Or Ratty, who used his “mandate(??)” to do nothing useful for more than a decade, to chuck away as many opportunities as possible, to ignore the looming Asian Century, to neglect putting the economy onto a sustainable basis, to chase after fairies elves and unionists at the bottom of the garden, to worship without question that Born Loser and silly Emperor of America.

    Compared with these two duds, I would take Dr Habibi any day …. it may not have been what he did or did not do himself but the legacy he left that is important.

    A

  150. continuing my response to GregM @175:

    As for TNI: yes, yes, they could well be all those things you say about them BUT whenever a nation goes to war, strange things happen inside their armed forces.

    For instance, Saddam Hussein’s feared Republican Guard collapsed in a matter of days. The understrength and underequipped Imperial Japanese surprised themselves by their speedy conquest of the mighty British force in Malaya and Singapore.

    It is indeed more likely than not that a well-trained, well-informed, expertly-led, over-supplied, highly-motivated armed force will prevail …. but not always.

    You can dismiss TNI if you like; I prefer to be less scornful and to be more circumspect and realistic about TNI’s potential to achieve specific limited goals set by its government – should its government resort to armed conflict.

  151. Could it be the Oz intelligence community is upset at the lack of support they’re getting from the supposed patriotic voices in this country?

    INDONESIA’S military intelligence agency is using sophisticated Chinese surveillance equipment to target Australian officials, companies and individuals.

    And Jakarta and Beijing are conducting a growing number of combined spying operations against Australia, according to well-placed sources

    The spying scandal that has strained relations between Canberra and Jakarta has also exposed the massive spying effort by Indonesian spooks against thousands of Australians working in their country…

    An intelligence source told News Corp that the Indonesia-China relationship was very close and the Chinese were very interested in using that relationship to spy on Australia and other western nations with interests in Indonesia.

    “There is a clearly coordinated attempt by China and Indonesia to squeeze what they can out of us,” the source said.

    Or I guess this could be ministry-approved leaking designed to justify Abbott’s refusal to do that contrite Obama-begs-forgivesness-of-Merkel act, but boy, that’d entail true Costanza-esque levels of risktaking in order to avoid a lesser embarrassment.

    Much easier for me to imagine DSD are just afraid the all powerful Murdocracy will convince the govt to start firing directorate lifers.

  152. I’m hoping this isn’t an indication the letter wasn’t good enough…

    If its not I hope the Indonesians publish it so we can see the offence ourselves.

    I reckon Indonesia has been pretty damn gracious about it all so far really. And even I’m shocked at some of the faux pas of Abbott thus far.

    The Indonesian journo on Q&A was great. They publish cartoons of Abbott masturbating and we threaten the ABC. And Tony Jones – wtf?

  153. Is it April 1?

    “RETIRED army chief Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy led a covert operation trying to bring a swift end to the Indonesian spying scandal by delivering a personal letter from Tony Abbott to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ….It was a secret meeting outside a Canberra shop between the Prime Minister’s Office and former military brass that set the wheels in motion for the high-level operation to deliver the letter.”

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/secret-mission-to-jakarta-to-end-phone-tap-rift/story-fni0cx12-1226768256156

  154. Surely delivering a letter is the task of an ambassador. And we have a highly respected one in Jakarta.

  155. Oh wow, RD.

    A Goon Show script has escaped into the real world.

    Scott Morrison is The Famous Eccles and Tony Abbott is Bluebottle. “He’s fallen in the water!”

  156. My reading is that, to the extent that any rational calculation has driven this frolic, Abbott knows he has produced a less than satisfying response to SBY, but hopes that whatever caché Leahy may have will induce SBY not to reject Abbott’s démarche publicly.

    On the contrary, the Indonesians are likely to read this as a panicked response and as symptomatic of a government in chaos. My guess is that SBY will make noncommittal noises and keep the letter as a banker.

    However, the vicissitudes of Indonesian electoral politics may recommend a more vigorous use of Abbott’s Secret Seven antics.

  157. The possibility that Abbott, of all folk, might have brought the live cattle trade to Indonesia to a halt is absolutely thrilling.

    Sure it’s a roundabout way of getting a good outcome, but as Bismarck reportedly said — if people could see how the sausages were made they wouldn’t eat them.

    My preference is for good process, but if only bad process is on offer and I still get a good result, I’m not so churlish that I’ll decline to celebrate.

    There’s something really nice about the friends of the live cattle trade harming the live cattle trade, and the loudest enemy of vulnerable people seeking protection undermining the epic struggle to intimidate vulnerable people into declining protection.

    Who knows? The West Papuans might also come out ahead.

  158. Tim Macknay:

    Perhaps Mark Textor’s next tweet will celebrate “lower beef prices for Aussies”.

    It’s all part of the plan to meat the needs of the man in the street and the silent majority. 😉

  159. My father, all my brothers, and most of my uncles work in the beef industry.

    Fran Barlow, exulting at the prospect of them being out of work is possibly the most obscene thing written on the internet this year.

    Cattlemen are the salt of the earth. Fran Barlow is unmentionable.

    Schadenfreude would be reigning supreme were Fran’s income, and prospects, be reduced to zero. It would not only be well deserved, but be oh so sweet poetic justice indeed for Fran to be reduced to the hopelessness of homeless harridan, unable to aspire even to be a mendicant.

  160. Fran Barlow, exulting at the prospect of them being out of work is possibly the most obscene thing written on the internet this year.

    The most obscene thing written on the internet this year??
    You need to get out more.

  161. Charlene

    My father, all my brothers, and most of my uncles work in the beef industry.

    Fran Barlow, exulting at the prospect of them being out of work is possibly the most obscene thing written on the internet this year.

    You obviously don’t spend much time on the internet.

    Brutalising animals is not an honourable trade. Live exports are an especially brutal iteration of the commercial animal exploitation trade.

    In this country, a cap is placed on brutality. I’m not keen on the beef industry, but it’s not as bad as what happens at export.

    How are you on jobs in human exploitation?

  162. @191 In an effort to put that claim in some sort of context: “the most obscene thing written on the internet this year.” I clicked on the CharleneM link. Still none the wiser. It’s the most obscure thing written on the internet this year.

  163. The possibility that Abbott, of all folk, might have brought the live cattle trade to Indonesia to a halt is absolutely thrilling.

    Sure it’s a roundabout way of getting a good outcome, but as Bismarck reportedly said — if people could see how the sausages were made they wouldn’t eat them.

    Just how is that a good outcome?

    The Indonesians are not vegetarians. They are meat-eaters and as their population grows and they become wealthier their demand for high quality animal protien will grow.

    The live animal trade between Australia and Indonesia meets both countries’ needs. Australia produces disease free animals at a low cost to an age when they can be exported to Indonesia. That provides jobs for a lot of Australians who will find it difficult to find alternative employment, if they can find it at all, where they live.

    When the cattle arrive in Indonesia they are fed in feedlots to a suitable weight, providing empoyment to a lot of Indonesians, then slaughtered and sold to Indonesians at an affordable price.

    If the live cattle trade between Australia and Indonesia is ended there will be a lot of unemployed people in northern Australia. That won’t stop Indonesia from importing live cattle. They’ll just get them from elsewhere; India or Brazil, at an inherent risk of introducing exotic cattle diseases to their country and at a higher price, meaning less high quality animal protein available which Indonesians can afford to eat.

    It won’t mean that the cattle Indonesia imports will be any better treated. In fact it can be expected that the cattle, from India and Brazil, would be worse treated as there would be less likelihood that their societies would be in any better position or have any greater incentive to insist on the humane treatment of the cattle that arrive in Indonesia from their countries, than Australian cattle producers would for cattle sourced from Australia.

    As I understand your “ethical”stance on things it is based on a universalist principle and that according to that principle, we should not distinguish between people (or in this case cattle) based upon where they are from.

    If we apply this principle then are you are just transferring the misery of cattle from Australian cattle to Indian or Brazilian cattle, with the added misery of a much longer sea journey thrown in? How does that square with your ethics?

    And so why do you find the prospect of the end of the Australian live cattle trade to Indonesia absolutely thrilling?

  164. Schadenfreude would be reigning supreme were Fran’s income, and prospects, be reduced to zero. It would not only be well deserved, but be oh so sweet poetic justice indeed for Fran to be reduced to the hopelessness of homeless harridan, unable to aspire even to be a mendicant.

    Oh dear, vengeful curses on the internet. “Harridan eh”? That’s a bit bad. As a conjurer myself (only for the good of the conjuree or feminism, not the shit you are doing), can I just advise you here that those sorts of curses tend to rebound on the one doing the cursing? Just something I’ve seen over the years, take it or leave it.

    In the meantime, I too hope the dark practices of live trade cease. There are plenty of us that hope so, you know. It’s terribly cruel, plenty of us say so all the time.

  165. *delete that stupid ‘seen’. Now I’m going back to Dancing with the Stars where all the male mortals are taking their shirts off for some strange reason. Could be the Grand Final. Who knows with male mortals.

    [done oh witchy one ~ Mod]

  166. So nice to see members of the Right supporting the practice of torturing animals to death for religious purposes.

    And for Islam at that!

    Who says that the spirit of ecumenism is dead?

  167. P.S. Fran, Bismarck never said that if people could see how sausuges were made they wouldn’t eat them. That, or something like it, to do with the making of laws, has been falsely attributed to him.

  168. So nice to see members of the Right supporting the practice of torturing animals to death for religious purposes.

    And for Islam at that!

    So are we to take it that you believe that the halal method of killing animals is a practice of torturing animals to death, Katz? It would seem that that is the only conclusion we can draw from your comment.

    If so do you think we should ban the practice of halal killing in Australia?

    And just to be sure, and to satisfy our humanitarian scruples, require that all animal meat imported into Australia be certified as not having been killed in a halal manner?

    By your logic that is the only right thing for us to do.

  169. GregM

    Broadly, I don’t accept your reasoning.

    If the live cattle trade between Australia and Indonesia is ended …{this} … won’t stop Indonesia from importing live cattle. They’ll just get them from elsewhere; India or Brazil, at an inherent risk of introducing exotic cattle diseases to their country and at a higher price, meaning less high quality animal protein available which Indonesians can afford to eat.

    They have it within their power to avoid introducing exotic cattle diseases into their country. Also, as I understand it, the aim of the Republic of Indonesia is to become entirely self-sufficient in cattle production, and importing cattle from elsewhere would subvert this. Also, the meat from live cattle goes, as I understand it, to wealthy Indonesians, not poor ones, so variations in price are unlikely to affect consumption patterns. It’s obviously also possible for them to source beef rather than cattle for import. Importing cattle from Brazil probably isn’t practicable, due to the distances involved. They are more likely to import from India.

    As I understand your “ethical”stance on things it is based on a universalist principle and that according to that principle, we should not distinguish between people (or in this case cattle) based upon where they are from.

    That’s true. Of course, while I would be appalled to see live cattle from India brutally treated in Indonesia, and would protest, this would be an ethical failure on the part of those two jurisdictions, rather than Australia. If the only way to abate this brutality would be to have Australia become involved in a similar ethical breach — and let’s be clear, that’s what it would entail — then really, the objection fails. At least if Australia isn’t doing it, Australia can make a fuss, as we do with mining whales in the SOWS by Japan.

    I find this thrilling because it’s a smack in the eye of the Meat & Livestock lobby, who enable brutality to sheep and cattle (and for all I know, chickens too) in a range of settings. Their preferred candidate has fouled their pond and may open the way to less brutality, or at least, cleaner Australian hands.

  170. GregM

    Fran, Bismarck never said that if people could see how sausuges were made they wouldn’t eat them. That, or something like it, to do with the making of laws, has been falsely attributed to him.

    I suspected it might be apocryphal, but the analogy is still pretty good whoever dreamed it up.

  171. Having been on the internet for some time, posts of the kind “Charlene” offers above are a relative commonplace. Out of whimsy though, I decided to consider Charlene’s ostensible claim to standing:

    My father, all my brothers, and most of my uncles work in the beef industry.

    I’ve since had a look at the ABS yearbook (2012) and also a report into the beef industry by Price Waterhouse Cooper and although a price number can’t be put on “Australians working in the beef industry” my best guess would put this number well below 40,000. People with a family member in the beef industry might enlarge this number, but those who had several relatives would be rather fewer.

    I don’t wish to insult this blog, but if there are as many as 200 different people in the country visiting it once each week I’ll be very surprised. The idea that one of these possibly 200 people is also in the larger class of people with multiple family members in the beef industry does stretch credulity beyond breaking point.

    OK, maybe “Charlene” is exceptionally exercised by the travails of those exploiting animals for a living or is perhaps just doing a version of culture wars and decided to sex it up with a personal angle, thinking that would buy her a more sympathetic hearing, but one can’t but laugh at the stupidity of her disatribe.

    This was also amusing:

    Cattlemen (sic) are the salt of the earth.

    Normally, salt is toxic to earth. 😉 Jokes aside, cattlemen are like miners, extracting nutrient from the Earth for profit, so “salt” is probably an apt term.

  172. I’m busy tonight, but I’ll leave it (for today) with this:
    Subsequent comments make it clear that knowledge of the beef industry, and the livex industry, on this blog, is on the same level of my dog’s understanding of internal combustion engines.

    This is not a slur on the commenters here, but an apt observation of their knowledge of the matter. How could they know anything? It isn’t reported, it isn’t relevant to most Australians, and they don’t have a stake in it.

    Amusingly, Fran has even had a go at theorising on the demographics of stockmen.

  173. Charlene @ 191:
    Well, given the success of the animal cruelty campaign and now the phony spy scandal, it looks like you relatives had better get ready for the next attack, by their offshore customers, in the campaign for the vertical integration of the meat industry. If your relatives are really lucky, the new owners might even give them a few weeks work until they can get their own staff in place. That bit of work would be handy because there’s quite a queue up at the charity organizations these days.

    Fran Barlow @194:
    You said “stopping live exports to Indonesia would not stop the beef industry, sadly.” No, not ‘stop’ exactly but the knock-on effect would drive a lot drive a lot of families out of the industry: not the lazy and inefficient ones, unfortunately, but the ones recovering from unprecedented natural disasters exacerbated by downright silly and whimsical policies and practices by both government and the corporate world.

    faustusnotes @ 179:
    No good whinging to me – talk instead to all the social workers and financial counsellors struggling under caseloads that are getting heavier by the day.

    Katz @ 185:
    “A Goon Show script has escaped into the real world.” No, couldn’t possibly be. The Goons had far too much genius. No comparison.

    Gentlefolk:
    I had the impression that Australian authorities were actually intercepting conversations among prominent Indonesians and having the content of those conversations analysed, nuances of speech carefully examined and so on. I didn’t realize that all that was happening was old-fashioned traffic analysis: who called who and when. That’s not even Spying 1.01 and any amateur hackers worth their salt would not regard it as much of a challenge when there are more exciting targets to attempt. So what’s everyone getting so hot under the collar about? Just own up to it (in formal diplomatic language, of course), apologize and move on. The Indonesians must be killing themselves laughing in private at the antics of the Australians

  174. Nope. The act of torture precedes the act of killing.

    Katz what is the act of torture that precedes the act of killing in the halal method of animal slaughter?

  175. Fran it’s quite possible that what Charlene M said about her family is true. It happens all the time. If she comes from a cattle producing family its possible her dad and brothers run a farm, one uncle drives a cattle truck and another works at the stockyard. Its actually more likely in that industry than most.

    And by your definition everyone that farms is like a miner – whether they grow animals, fibre, fruit, veggies or herbs. They all extract stuff from soil for profit. Even suburban gardeners extract nutrients from the earth for food or something pretty to look at.

  176. Jules

    Fran it’s quite possible that what Charlene M said about her family is true. It happens all the time. If she comes from a cattle producing family its possible her dad and brothers run a farm, one uncle drives a cattle truck and another works at the stockyard. It’s actually more likely in that industry than most.

    You miss my point. I don’t doubt that there are families like that. I know people who have families with five teachers or half a dozen people all working in transport.

    My question is: what proportion of the country fits both that criterion and the criterion of regularly (say at least once per week) reading this blog?

    Given that “Charlene M” responded within 62 minutes of my post she’d have to be a fairly avid lurker (perhaps daily — and given that this is a left-of-centre blog, why would she) or else she was perhaps directed here from someplace else on the right — say catalepsy. That’s a vanishingly small cohort even with this last allowance.

    And by your definition everyone that farms is like a miner – whether they grow animals, fibre, fruit, veggies or herbs. They all extract stuff from soil for profit. Even suburban gardeners extract nutrients from the earth for food or something pretty to look at.

    That’s true, although there’s a considerable difference between the person panning for gold as a hobby or perhaps subsistence and organised groups of people with 40 tonne trucks and drilling equipment.

    People need nutrients but they don’t need meat.

  177. Torture isn’t essential to halal methods of slaughter.

    But you said that torture was being inflicted on animals for religious purposes to bring about their death and you identified the religion for which this was being done as Islam. Here is what you said:

    So nice to see members of the Right supporting the practice of torturing animals to death for religious purposes.

    And for Islam at that!

    if the halal method of slaughter does not torture an animal what other religious practices of torture are you saying are being inflicted on animals in the name of Islam to animals as a part of causing their death?

  178. Fran, Charlene M has commented here on a range of issues in the past. While she has not been a frequent commenter it should not surprise you if she were to comment on an issue which directly affects her family and about which she is likely to be a great deal more informed than you are.

    And your comment @212:

    People need nutrients but they don’t need meat.

    seems to indicate that your objection to the live cattle trade to Indonesia is not based upon objections to that cattle trade per se but a general (and no doubt “ethical” ) objection to human consumption of meat at all.

    Will we see you protesting against our meat exports to Japan, South Korea and China. Will you be protesting against the North Koreans’ efforts to grow giant rabbits in order to supply their people with animal protein?

    Should we shut down our entire meat production industry and take beef, lamb, pork, chicken and fish off our supermarket shelves?

    In your Utopia will eggs also be banished?

  179. Fran Barlow @ 212:
    Just because this is a left-of-centre – and usually Progressive – blog, you can’t assume that people of a particular class or social group or from a particular industry would not be really interested in it simply because the mainstream entertainment media chooses to give so much prominence to extremist ratbags and utter trogs in that class or group or industry.

    We’ve been though that sort of negative stereotyping before …. in blaming Australian Viet-Nam War veterans for the over-publicized outrageous attitudes of a tiny handful of loud-mouthed ex-servicemen (some of whom never heard the proverbial shot fired in anger). We saw it with the screaming greenie tree-huggers, those agents-provocateur for mining and timber-stripping firms, who got responsible activists with real environmental concerns such an undeserved bad name.

    I’m happy to believe that many in the grazing industry are concerned about social justice and are willing to adopt progressive ideas and therefore would be very intersted in what is said on Larvatus Prodeo. Just because the over-stockers, erosion-makers, water-wasters, worshippers of the Falling Dollar and other bludgers in the grazing industry get all the publicity, that’s no reason to tar all graziers with the one brush.

    Not having a go at you Fran, just a gentle reminder that there are nice people around who probably agree with much of what you have to say.

    Now, back to Indonesia and the patient uncle SBY’s chastisement of the naughty little nephew Tony ….

  180. Fran further to your wish to abolish meat consumption- does it extend to arthropods? Will lobsters and prawns be off the menu? And locusts?

  181. Well, naughty little Tony is not going to go down well in the electorates of Lindsay and the like (if their stereotypes are right.)
    They will be appalled at his kowtowing to the Indonesian President.
    Rod for own back fashioned by demonising refugees and various other coloured/Islamic peoples to gain the votes of the great unwashed masses.

  182. I believe the methods used to deliver a cow live to the slaughterman’s knife from somewhere in Queensland to some remote village in Java do constitute torture.

    The use of the knife per se is not in my opinion, torture.

  183. I believe the methods used to deliver a cow live to the slaughterman’s knife from somewhere in Queensland to some remote village in Java do constitute torture.

    But do those methods constitute torturing the animal to death? And what part of the methods constitute torture? Herding the cattle in Australia? Holding them in stockyards? Putting them on ships? Transporting them to an Indonesian port? Disembarking them? Putting them in an Indonesian feedlot where they are fed and watered so as to fatten them up? Transporting them to an abbatoir?

    And which of those impugned methods are being undertaken for a religious purpose? For that is what you have said:

    So nice to see members of the Right supporting the practice of torturing animals to death for religious purposes.

    And for Islam at that!

    What parts of the quran, the sunnah or the hadiths require or sanction animals being tortured?

    And what evidence do you have that the live cattle trade has involved the slaughter of cattle in remote Javanese villages? It was my understanding that the slaughter took place in a small number of established abbatoirs, not in remote villages. If you have evidence to the contrary please share it with us.

  184. So Andrew Robb has decided that it’s ok for those in the know to admit to spying. Should the Libs hire Jerry Springer to compère the forthcoming flood of revelations?

  185. GregM

    Fran further to your wish to abolish meat consumption- does it extend to arthropods? Will lobsters and prawns be off the menu? And locusts?

    perhaps I should clarify.

    I don’t favour prohibition of meat consumption, though I do favour methods aimed at discouraging
    * cruelty in the lead up to killing (which would certainly include a ban on live exports)
    * wasteful use of land resources to raise nutrient
    * promotion of meat-eating as “healthy”

    I don’t, for example, have an ethical objection to the manner in which some in the US known as “the grass farmer movement” deal with raising animals for slaughter. If all meat for sale were raised in this way, I’d probably cease talking about the issue.

    I believe it would be a good thing if a lot less meat were consumed and a lot less land were devoted to supporting the animals intended for slaughter and that protein were sourced far more often from non-flesh sources.

    Populations would be healthier. There would be less animal derived disease. The GHG/ecological footprint of food would decline. There would be less brutality. Water would be less contaminated.

  186. Graham

    We have two quite small datasets — people inclined to read and post here and people with multiple family members in the beef industry. You could probably fit everyone who could be in both sets into a scout hall in Eastwood.

    The odds of just such a person coming across my post inside an hour are tiny — so tiny that I don’t believe it.

    I suspect s/he’s one of those posturing blow-ins from catalepsy. I have a fair idea who it is because the posting style is fairly distinctive and s/he speaks as if s/he knows me. Very few people use the terms “harridan” and “mendicant”, most are on the far right and if I go through the list of people likely to hurl abuse at me in those terms, it’s a very short list.

  187. Fran Barlow, exulting at the prospect of them being out of work is possibly the most obscene thing written on the internet this year.

    This makes no sense. If we slaughtered cattle here and sent the meat overseas instead of sending live cattle, there would be many *more* jobs in the beef cattle industry. I hate these false dichotomies almost as much as people who refer to women as harridans.

  188. This makes no sense. If we slaughtered cattle here and sent the meat overseas instead of sending live cattle, there would be many *more* jobs in the beef cattle industry. I hate these false dichotomies almost as much as people who refer to women as harridans.

    IIRC the issue is that the NT doesn’t really have the capability to fatten up the cattle for sale and its a lot cheaper (eg can the locals afford to buy it) for that and presumably processing to be done in Indonesia. Not that excuses maltreatment of animals…

  189. Cheers Jungney for the link @212.

    My take is this. “In accordance with our expectations” was the polite way of saying the letter wasn’t what they wanted. There will be no BFF’s or special relationship and they can drag this out as long as they wish. At the moment they’ll settle for detente.

    And afaik, they weren’t asking for much. An apology for spying, not the leaking, news reports, embarrassing Indonesia. Thats rude even in our culture.

    Does anyone have any good links to Indonesian commentary that we should be reading? I’m wondering if I’m reading too much into the choice of medium by SBY…

  190. Helen@223

    If we slaughtered cattle here and sent the meat overseas instead of sending live cattle, there would be many *more* jobs in the beef cattle industry.

    Indeed that’s so. The choice to live export is purely about commercial advantage.

  191. We saw it with the screaming greenie tree-huggers, those agents-provocateur for mining and timber-stripping firms, who got responsible activists with real environmental concerns such an undeserved bad name.

    There is a name for this shtick. It’s concern trolling, with a heavy dose of paranoid fantasizing. Graham, can you ever, ever just stick to the facts as the world presents them, rather than inflicting this weird fantasist bullshit on us?

    I believe Fran is taking a Bayesian approach to identifying trolling. If, as GregM says, Charlene has commented here before, then I think Fran’s priors (<- this term used in the correct statistical sense) need updating.

  192. “The choice to live export is purely about commercial advantage”

    I don’t know this … I’m just wondering: is an advantage of the live trade that animals can be kept alive and moved around until they are needed for slaughter and consumption? If the meat is consumed by wealthier people in the cities, refrigeration could work, but if a beast is delivered out to a small Indonesian town to be slaughtered, sold and eaten – where there is no refrigeration – then you would need the live trade.

  193. Russell, I think the talking point about feeding the poor in Indonesia is a furphy and is pretty much dredged up to serve the cattle industry. AFAIK Australian beef is a pretty middle to upper class purchase and we are not denying the poor downtrodden peasants their protein.

  194. GregM

    I didn’t see this from your earlier post until now.

    Charlene M has commented here on a range of issues in the past. While she has not been a frequent commenter it should not surprise you if she were to comment on an issue which directly affects her family and about which she is likely to be a great deal more informed than you are.

    Unless you know a lot more about “Charlene M”‘s circumstances than you imply above, there’s simply no basis at all for such a claim.

    Perhaps s/he really is telling the truth about her’his family — but if so it’s an astonishing coincidence. Even if s/he really is speaking truthfully about that, what s/he’s “more informed” about and what s/he would disclose may be quite different. If one takes Charlene’s claims at face value, she regards cattlefolk as absolutely authentic — intrinsically worthy — and is dreadfully upset that anyone would wink at anything that might subvert their position.

    That makes him/her, at the very least, an unreliable witness, someone with a beef in her bonnet( 😉 ), rather than a mere commentator about meat industry usages.

  195. A rule that is almost 100% certain to work: when the monied classes claim their activities can’t be stopped because they benefit the poor, they’re lying. Corollary to this rule: in most cases, the activity in question disadvantages the poor in some way.

  196. Fran in response to my comment about Charlene posting at LP before:

    Charlene M has commented here on a range of issues in the past. While she has not been a frequent commenter it should not surprise you if she were to comment on an issue which directly affects her family and about which she is likely to be a great deal more informed than you are.

    you say:

    Unless you know a lot more about “Charlene M”‘s circumstances than you imply above, there’s simply no basis at all for such a claim.

    No basis for what?

    That she has posted here before? You can check that out from LPs archives. I’m not going to do that for you.

    That she comes from a family involved in the beef industry? Well you’ve got me there. I’ve taken her word on that, just as I have over time taken you at your word on who you say you are and what you do and what you believe.

    For all I know you are in fact Amanda Vanstone whiling away her hours having a giggle at the expense of all the lefties on LP, and commenting under the name of Fran Barlow. Or worse still Sophie Mirabella.

    I choose to take her at her word as being who she says she is and what her family does. And if her family is engaged in the beef industry it is most likely that she will be better informed about it than you are.

    That makes him/her, at the very least, an unreliable witness, someone with a beef in her bonnet ( 😉 ), rather than a mere commentator about meat industry usages.

    Fran, what don’t you have a bee(f) in your bonnet about?

  197. Greg

    No basis for what? {…} That she comes from a family involved in the beef industry? Well you’ve got me there. I’ve taken her word on that, just as I have over time taken you at your word on who you say you are and what you do and what you believe.

    Except that at least in my case, I don’t expect anyone to rely purely on my claims about my profession, family connections or political history to found a cultural claim against someone else.

    And if her family is engaged in the beef industry it is most likely that she will be better informed about it than you are.

    And if this is a misrepresentation then s/he may not be or she may well be but on some other basis. One can’t be confident and so one ought not to make the claim at all — especially since she made no claim about the beef industry that someone doing another round of the culture wars but possessed of no specific knowledge of usages might not have made.

    Indeed, as Helen points out, her readiness to suggest I would in some way, prejudice her family’s livelihood were the live cattle trade to Indonesia to cease rather counts against her credibility.

    I have since your last post had a bit of a poke about to see what else s/he has said in my cyber vicinity. S/he posted over at Quiggins in “Sauce for the Goose” the claim that Quiggin’s disinclination to link to the Bolt blog page meant that people couldn’t “read Bolt and make up their own mind”. Laughable.

    Fran, what don’t you have a bee(f) in your bonnet about?

    Things that do not bear negatively on the opportunity of every human to have insight into their intellectual/cultural possibility and to approach it as efficiently as they can.

  198. I’ve taken her word on that, just as I have over time taken you at your word on who you say you are and what you do and what you believe.

    Yes oh youse of little faith. Behold the GregM. He believes.

    Now Greg, given that on faith you believe in someone called Charlene whose other name is ‘Yokel’, that’s right ‘Yokel’, who has been writing some story about some bloke on the 35th floor for 17 years now, given you believe he is real, I take it you take me at my word too and that you believe that I am a witch/ vampire thingy of the night?

    Good.

    Shut up and let me bite you.

    It’s been years, Greg, years.

    Invite me.

  199. I think I might have seen [redacted ~ Mod] wearing a handwritten sandwich board and being blown down a windy canyon in Capitol City. The sign writing was incoherent and a bit shouty, and passing lawyers were avoiding eye contact and quickening their stride.

  200. I have since your last post had a bit of a poke about to see what else s/he has said in my cyber vicinity.

    This is good news Fran. No doubt in doing so you’ve had a bit of a poke about in your Larvatus Prodeo vicinity and have found that she has commented before on LP and on topics having nothing to do with the beef industry.

    I ‘m guessing I’m right to conclude that your poking around hasn’t shown Charlene M up as a poster at Catallaxy. If it had I’m sure you’d not stop crowing about it.

    Time I think for you to admit that you were wrong and that your snide suggestions about her existence and her opinions were wrong and unfounded and to offer her an apology for them.

    Not that I expect you to.

    [GregM and Fran please continue this on the Overflow thread if you must.]

  201. GregM

    Prompted by your caution on the origins of the aphorism about laws and sausages, I began an internet hunt …

    which led me to an American satirist and poet of the mid 19th century called John Godfrey Saxe. Here the aphorism runs:

    Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.

    which, according to Shapiro, appeared in the Cleveland Herald in March of 1869.

    Apparently the phrase was not attributed to Bismarck until the 1930s. Elsewhere, it is claimed the aphorism appears in German well before Bismarck and given that Saxe himself was of German origin (his grandfather’s name was Johannes Sachse, he may well have got it via that route.

  202. Yes oh youse of little faith. Behold the GregM. He believes.

    Now Greg, given that on faith you believe in someone called Charlene whose other name is ‘Yokel’, that’s right ‘Yokel’,

    Sorry Casey. I can’t respond.

    Your comment is way out of line in disparaging and insulting Charlene M as a yokel.

    It is a blatant breach of LPs comments policy and I hope that the moderators address it on that basis.

    [a quick visit to Charlene M’s blog (linked through their name above their comment) shows that they self describe as a yokel ~ Mod]

  203. Fran Barlow @ 223:
    Thanks. Still prepared to give CharleneM the benefit of the doubt for now; the opinion expressed here seemed credible to me. That said, I admired your show of analytical skill …. and given the tree-shaking and blame-shifting that is likely to be going on behind closed doors over the spying-on-Indonesia buffoonery, there are likely to be some sudden vacancies in the field of spookery in Australia. Have you considered a career change at all? 🙂

    fn@228:
    Heavens to betsy, so now I’m supposed to know nothing about corporate shills “opposing” sand mining nor about whatever else? Ha-ha-ha. Bad luck. I’m immune to your trollish abuse these days. By the way, I liked your quite sensible comment @232.

  204. Sorry Casey. I can’t respond.

    My Stars, when have you ever responded?

    Well.

    I am not giving up, not giving up.

    In the meantime, I demand an apology for you falsely accusing me of some such latest thing you got wrong who cares now just consider, if you let me bite you – no more of this outrage on behalf of people like Yokel, on a regular basis.

    God, imagine a world like that.

    I will be waiting.

    After all, I’m immortal.

    I can wait.

  205. Moderator

    GregM and Fran please continue this on the Overflow thread if you must.

    I see no pressing need to do so. My comments on the poster in question suffice, IMO.

    [Mod ~ then I look forward to your explanation about how your views on a commenter on this thread have anything to do with spying in Indonesia – ON THE OVERFLOW THREAD]

  206. Gosh! Considerable speculation about how I cannot possibly be me, but oh so very little to no introspection about commenters wishing the termination of people’s livlihood.

    Social justice even gets mentioned. But why? There is little sign of it from those who mention it. Exultation at the mere prospect of entire families becoming unemployed is not the action of anyone who believes in social justice.

    A few commenters even prattle on as if animal husbandry is torture. If someone’s knowledge is so lacking, why do they comment about something they know absolutely nothing about? (I suppose empty vessels… etc, fools rush in where angels fear to… and so on)

    Most of the past 24 hours seems tied up with Fran stating (not speculating) stating that it is unlikely that entire families work in the same industry. Thus demonstrating that Fran knows nothing of life beyond Sydney’s “Sandstone Curtain”.

    The most prolific commenters seem to know the least.

    But still there is little attention paid to the point: Fran is exulting, almost cheering at the prospect of an industry closing down.

    Sick.

  207. I guess we shouldn’t show any happiness at the thought of the spies who were listening in on SBY and his wife’s sweet nothings having their jobs terminated either, Charlene?

    Just because it’s a job, doesn’t mean we should mourn its loss.

  208. Graham Bell: 207. Well yes, though nothing much has changed since the day the live export ban was implemented. It is only been technically partially lifted. Life is nothing like what it was before the ban. This latest fiasco is causing quite some unhappiness. The ABC does not have a good name in the north, not now.

    Being in government service, many of my relations are not likely to be in the poorhouse in the event the smash gets worse, but this is little consolation.

    Greg M: Thank you for attempting to caution sanity on my behalf. The suggestion by some that it is total coincidence that a family all work in the one industry shows only the vast gulf of deficiency of their knowledge of their own country.

    In the northern cattle industry it is not uncommon for brothers, or fathers, sons & uncles to all work for the same company. It is common for entire families of siblings and cousins to be engaged in the same industry, sometimes even in exactly the same occupation. (Off the top of my head I can name four sets of brothers who all work in exactly the same occupation, as did their father before them.)

    Nor is it unknown for the entire workforce of a cattle station to be all from one extended family, of brothers, uncles, cousins and second cousins. This circumstance is less common, but is highly valued for the long term stability it breeds.

    My family, for the record, are in the following jobs, this is my brothers, cousins, uncles & so on, in no particular order (all directly involved in the cattle industry):
    Stockman, station manager, auctioneer, veterinarian, policeman, stock inspector, truck driver, helicopter pilot, fencing contractor, stock contractor, bookeeper, extension officer, motor mechanic, water expert, merchandise salesman.

  209. Charlene M, no one is questioning the idea that a whole family would work in the same industry. Fran is questioning your claim that you are from a pastoral background, on the basis of simple probabilities. It’s not an unusual event on the internet for people to lie for emotional effect, you know.

    I’m interested if you think there are any jobs that shouldn’t exist. Anything particularly abhorrent you think society shouldn’t do? Maybe CIA torturers? People smugglers? Do you get any joy to see those jobs abolished?

    Fran doesn’t like your industry. Why should she not be happy if it is closed? Should she instead support all industries she thinks are abhorrent or outdated, just because the CIA torturer’s family depend on his income?

  210. Charlene M @243:
    Well, I for one am only too aware of what happens when whole sections and even whole industries are wiped out on a whim or a fancy.

    Remember what happened to Ravenshoe and the Tablelands after Graeme Richardson’s hit-and-run grandstanding for the faux conservationists in Sydney and Melbourne? Instead of pointing the timber industry in a new direction – recycling all the valuable seasoned timber laying around the place and thereby providing a century of work without another tree being felled – the whole industry was shut down and all that expertise was chucked on the scrapheap. Clever country? Pig’s what? And that’s only one example out of many.

    Anyway, merely chatting about past follies isn’t going to gain or restore any markets for Australian grazing families nor will it protect them against the real threat of vertical integration. Nor will any idle talk do a thing to prevent the grazing industry being sacrificed by Tony Abbott and his mob to appease the Indonesian elite.

  211. @247

    Nor will any idle talk do a thing to prevent the grazing industry being sacrificed by Tony Abbott and his mob to appease the Indonesian elite.

    Yes, but there are those who prefer to blame the messenger: @ 245

    The ABC does not have a good name in the north, not now.

    rather than the government in power who has the responsibility to manage this.

    Being in government service, many of my relations are not likely to be in the poorhouse in the event the smash gets worse, but this is little consolation.

    Don’t look now, but the Coalition has some plans for you too….

  212. Charlene, how would ceasing live export and processing meat to export frozen instead constitute an “industry closing down”?

    Is it really impossible for Australians to produce value-added exports? Are we so stupid that all we can do is export raw materials, including live animals, regardless of the environmental and ethical damage?

  213. Fran – love your work.

    My parents were also beef farmers – what’s the odds 🙂 – but with a different take on the industry than Charlene’s. From my parents, I’ve adopted a value, without much question, that anyone who maltreats their stock directly, or via proxy, are horrid people.

    I didn’t know about a bunch of relatives until my mother got very upset with her mother visiting these people some years back. They farm intensively where their stock lives their lives crowded in their own filth. I can’t, like my mum, imagine anyone who tortures animals to have any redeeming quality, whether they torture the beasts directly or send their animals to be maltreated enroute and elsewhere.

    And good on NZ for not buying into this rubbish

  214. Not to side with the animal export business, having been against it since I took the first sheep to holding paddocks in the early 80’s, but our meat processing efforts and animal handling at that time was almost as brutal and reprehensible as what we object to now.
    I was stock transporting across four States and the NT then and left the industry because of the lack of strict compliance with animal welfare rules. Not all abattoirs were shockers but many of them were poorly managed and closed and re-opened without regard to workers entitlements.
    Shonky meat inspection rorts and the use of substitute meats ( horse for beef etc) resulted in a bad name for Australian exports and the dismissal and charging of a swag of meat inspectors.
    Self-regulation!

  215. Helen, closing down the live cattle export to Indonesia won’t lead to the closing down of the cattle industry in Australia. It would only affect the cattle industry in northern Australia. That industry is based on a synergy between northern Australia where cattle can be bred to a certain age, on pretty sparse broad acres and in a disease free environment, at a relatively low price then shipped to Indonesia where they are fattened up in feedlots, again at a relatively low price, for sale and slaughter. If the fattening up occurred in Australia it would be at a much higher cost and not economical.

    The cattle industry in the southern states works on a different economic dynamic where it is more economical to breed the animals up to slaughter and then pack their meat off to their overseas markets, principally Japan and Korea than to export them live and then fatten them up in feedlots there.

  216. Is it really impossible for Australians to produce value-added exports? Are we so stupid that all we can do is export raw materials, including live animals, regardless of the environmental and ethical damage?

    Indonesia has a quota limit on frozen beef imports. So even if Australia produces more, it can’t sell more to Indonesia. They have a separate quota for live import of beef (currently unlimited) because they want to encourage development of their own beef industry. Australia doesn’t sell cattle ready to kill to Indonesia – they’re fattened up in Indonesia first. And as I mentioned above, its not clear that the NT has the capability to do the fattening up in a cost effective way (read affordable to the Indonesian market). So I think its quite plausible that those in the beef industry in the NT are not simply able to easily move from live cattle export to frozen beef exports.

    The ABC does not have a good name in the north, not now.

    That’s really shooting the messenger rather than blaming the real cause though. How about putting the blame on the people who actually abused the animals or the organisations which are meant to monitor what is going on and should have intervened sooner before it became public?

    Fran doesn’t like your industry. Why should she not be happy if it is closed? Should she instead support all industries she thinks are abhorrent or outdated, just because the CIA torturer’s family depend on his income?

    Probably a bit extreme comparing it to CIA torturing. But I’d agree that it has similarities to say the car or textile industries. If they can’t find a way to make a profit and remain ethical at the same time, then whilst I’d feel for the indivduals losing their job/companies it doesn’t mean I’d support them being artificially supported.

    Not to side with the animal export business, having been against it since I took the first sheep to holding paddocks in the early 80′s, but our meat processing efforts and animal handling at that time was almost as brutal and reprehensible as what we object to now.

    I worked for a short while in an abbatoir in the 90s (sorry for the doubters but I can’t prove it) and I think its one of those areas where there is slow improvement over the years. I think its unreasonable for us to expect instance change in poor countries overnight, but instead look to see ongoing improvement.

  217. Dave McRae

    Thanks for the support. It seems to me that the capacity for empathy is one of the foundational components of human community. Strong social taboo constrains most of those who feel indifference to the suffering of fellow humans from expressing it but it’s not uncommon for people to express indifference to the suffering of animals on one basis or another.

    In some, this may be a combination of ignorance, hubris and ethical/intellectual indolence, but in a subsection of this crowd, there is clearly a dangerous pathology at work, which, every now and again, manifests in horrendous conduct directed against humans. There is a strong link for example, between firebugs and people guilty of violent offences against the person and a history in childhood of cruelty to animals.

    IMO, we ought to oppose cruelty because it’s intrinsically nasty and dehumanising, but it’s also a big red flag that should give those of us who recoil in horror pause to wonder what those who practise it might also be capable of inflicting on their fellows. I don’t agree one can compartmentalise, inruing oneself to the suffering of animals while bein a genwerous and compasionate person with our fellow humans

    It seems to me that it’s no coincidence that the very same folk who were up in arms about our preciousness over live exports and the cruelty in other places are the people saying that we must stop “boats”, punish “illegals” and cut foreign aid to the marginalised so we can have a surplus and build more roads and get some advantage from what remains of our aid program. These are ther folk saying that it doesn’t matter if we help pollute the atmosphere to the disadvantage of the world’s poor or who support drone strikes and attacks on human rights here and elsewhere.

  218. There is a strong link for example, between firebugs and people guilty of violent offences against the person and a history in childhood of cruelty to animals.

    Fran can you provide us with a link to the research that shows that?

  219. GregM

    for example:

    http://www.zackrosen.net/tobesorted/x/j/public/dmarkwat/2009-2010/Committees/Glenn/CJ205/Enuresis,%20Firesetting%20and%20cruelty%20to%20animals.pdf

    se also:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S135917890800058X

    There is clear evidence that cruelty to animals may co-occur with other violent behaviors, such as assault. Animal cruelty, particularly towards domestic pets, tends to occur disproportionately within the wider context of intimate partner violence. A factor that may contribute to the associations between interpersonal violence and animal cruelty is a compromised ability to experience feelings of empathy. The current paper sought to provide an overview of empathy and its relationship to violence, with particular emphasis on attitudes towards animals.

    Childhood cruelty to animals and later aggression against people: a review Am J Psychiatry 1987;144:710-717.

  220. Helen @ 249:
    You asked

    Is it really impossible for Australians to produce value-added exports?

    Well, yes; just about. That in itself is worthy of a whole topic on Larvatus Prodeo.

    We have all been lazy and wilfully ignorant. We have all stood by and allowed just about every scoundrel on the planet to walk all over us and get themselves a vested interest in stopping or hindering any Australians who try to value-add and so get rich out of our own exports. For example: we export hides, not processed leather …. and you can forget all about exporting leather goods (apart from a few saddles and suchlike items perhaps). I’m not being “racist(??)” or “anti-globalization(??)”; I’m just fed up with seeing Australians end up getting next to nothing – or worse – out of all our exports.

    One almost certain outcome of the spying farce will be the end of family-run cattle enterprises in Northern Australia.

    Zorronsky @ 251:
    Words of wisdom and real-world experience there.

  221. Not to endorse Charlene’s thread-jacking, but I have to agree with Graham Bell’s second last sentence and blaming the ABC will just ensure that the industry will go down the tubes even quicker.

    Zorronsky @251 As a segue back into spying, that would have been at the height of the kangaroo “did it moo or did it hop?” swindle/scandal, would it not? Which became public after Germany did some DNA testing after some NSA recordings came out in a court case (I think…)

  222. The recent attacks on the ABC are terrifying and I fear that they may have unintended consequences.

    Yulia Supadmo on QANDA:

    But the question is this: actually this development, we’re very interested in how it plays out. this development plays out. Will the ABC be punished? Because as one of the most democratic countries in the world, Indonesia also looks to Australia to see the relationship between the media and government. How much self-censorship is to be allowed in a system where democracy is to be upheld? I mean we’re still growing. The relationship between Indonesia’s media and the government is also still evolving. So if this were to happen to the ABC, because, you know, our viewpoint is this: it is not the leaking of the information that resulted in the damage, it is the spying. So you know, don’t mistake.

    We were wrong. We are sorry. Is it so damn hard for this government to treat Indonesia with respect?

    Incidentally, shouldn’t the title of this thread be Australian Spying Clusterf#!k? The scandal lies with us – not Indonesia.

  223. We don’t know yet if this mishandling of foreign affairs is just a part of inexperience in managing such matters in government. It sometimes take for a new PM to become deft in this area of public policy which has not been highly valued by the electorate until things go wrong. And it seems that more shocks are in train from the Snowden documents, so there will be plenty of opportunity for the PM to learn on the job.
    The East Timor matter is different overshadowed as it is by allegations of commercial chicanery and direct Ministerial involvement.
    But the implications of government action for the ABC are not in reality in the hands of the government. They could try some of the ‘ideas’ of Bernadi but there would be wider repercussions in the Australian community. One thing that protects the ABC is its reach into remote and rural Australia. And any major attack will lead to full scale culture war.

  224. So Lord Dolly Downer’s fag has owned up to being ordered into the school office to steal the exam answers.

    As usual, the school prefects have given the fag a thrashing for peaching on an upper school man.

    Nice to see traditional, old school values being upheld. To revive morale, there will be a general ball nuggeting in the dorm tonight.

  225. Today’s ABC PM revelations on the Timor variant of the Indonesian spying affair include:

    1) the fact that the Australian legal team for the current legal proceedings at The Hague appears to have breached legal privilege by passing on the information about the whistle blower, told to them in good faith by the Timorese team

    2) there are more whistle-blowers in the wings

    3) the proceedings in The Hague may be brought to Australia, or linked by ‘phone to Australia, so that the first whistle-blower can participate.

    There’s more, but probably worth waiting for the audio/transcript to be posted online (assuming that Bernardi doesn’t first break up Auntie and sell her…)

    Seriously, it’s staggering to see how in the space of three months Australia has gone from a respectable global citizen under the previous government to an international bully-boy and ethical/intellectual vacuum under the Coalition. Multiple comedy series could be produced about this, except that the capable commercial channels would be leery of offending their business partners and the ABC teams would essentially be painting a big target on their chests.

Comments are closed.