Australia's mainstream media failed to properly report on the extent of anti-Abbott protests last weekend, however the more honest overseas media succeeded. Alan Austin reports from France.
IN GERMANY, Radio Utopia highlighted Sunday’s protest marches across Australia with 'Volksaufstand in Australien' (Popular uprising in Australia):
'On Sunday, on the smallest continent on earth, occurred the biggest mass demonstrations for thirty years.'
Utopia claimed that 'a solid alliance of resistance across all strata of the population' had mobilised to protest 'the deliberate destruction of society by the Australian government'.
Brazil’s Boa Informaçao covered the protests, focussing on the government’s decision to return to Sri Lanka people
'...seeking asylum in Australia to escape the torture, rape and violence they suffer at the hands of the local army.'
Headlines around the world have condemned this, the latest of the Abbott government’s anti-refugee tactics. In damning terms.
‘Returning Sri Lankan refugees, Australia is inhumane’ translates the headline in Indonesia’s Jaring News yesterday.
Germany’s Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung published a disparaging piece titled 'Kein Platz für Flüchtlinge: Australiens Asylpolitik am Pranger' (No place for refugees: Australia's asylum seeker policy pilloried).
Author Christiane Oelrich began with:
'Australia hunts asylum seekers on the high seas.'
She noted with dismay that the most sparsely populated continent on the planet has nowhere near the problems with new arrivals of other developed countries.
Austrian public broadcaster Orf headed its report: 'Widerstand gegen Abbotts harte Hand' (Resistance against Abbott's heavy hand).
Orf claimed refugees returned to Sri Lanka would face 'long prison terms'. It quoted legal scholars who believe the Abbott Government
'... disregards international refugee and human rights.'
Headline in The Metro Journal in France:
‘Australia repels asylum seekers’.
'This was the first time that the government of prime minister Tony Abbott forced asylum seekers to return directly to their country of origin.'
In Spain, Europe Press conveyed the United Nations’ objections:
‘UN condemns Australia’s rapid rejection of Tamil asylum seekers’.
The High Court’s intervention was welcomed worldwide.
Russian Planet headlined Monday’s story:
'High Court of Australia prevented Sri Lankan refugee deportation due to threats to their security'.
La Presse in Canada also wrote:
‘Australian court prohibits return of Sri Lankan refugees’.
The Sri Lankan refugees are providing the seventh topic for extensive damaging reports on Australia just this year.
The first was Abbott’s embarrassing trip to Davos in January, during which the few mentions in the international press were all negative.
The second was the May budget which astonished the world with its callous attacks on the poor during a period of conspicuous economic success.
Analysis by London-based The Economist was headlined, ‘Slashing and burning’.
London’s Guardian headed theirs:
‘It's a bit rich for Tony Abbott to lecture the US on fair taxation’.
The New York Times focussed on university fee hikes:
‘An Uproar in Australia Over Proposal to Deregulate Tuition’.
The Washington Post titled its review:
‘How Australia’s winking Tony Abbott became one of the world’s most unpopular prime ministers’.
That piece claimed the PM 'has recently bungled his way from one scandal to the next' and is
'... quickly becoming one of the world’s most hated prime ministers.'
Le Figaro reported both Abbott’s failed May budget and his notorious sleazy wink – 'clin d'oeil maladroit' – during a radio interview. It added that Abbott is 'réputé pour ses gaffes' (famous for his blunders).
The third generator of global gobsmacks this year was Abbott’s ill-fated visit to Indonesia, France, Canada and the US last month.
French journal Le Point, wrote scathingly of Abbott’s offensive D-Day speech, which allocated just 30 seconds to the historic military event. Then – 'enchaîne directement sur les intérêts économiques' – linked this directly to his economic self-interest.
The French Courrier International asked in alarm of Abbott: 'vit-il dans le passé (does he live in the past)?
New York- based International Business Times titled its report on Abbott in Canada:
‘New Zealand and UK Not Joining Tony Abbott's Alliance to Block Global Climate Change Agenda’.
As far away as Argentina, the media ran a piece:
'Condemnation of Australia’s position on climate change’.
Press in Canada was plainly humiliating.
The Tyee titled its comment on Abbott’s visit:
‘Climate Disdainers Canada and Australia Form Axis of Weasels’.
Canada’s Toronto Star pilloried both Canada’s and Australia’s prime ministers in a withering piece headed
‘Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott deserve each other'.
Author Christopher Hume described the pair as 'Gollum and Mr. Potato Head' and a 'matched pair of fossils' who
'... in their short-sighted neglect of global warming ... let cash rule everything around them.'
The fourth cause of international embarrassment was John Oliver’s viral American TV video lampooning Abbott by simply stringing together about ten of his more excruciating public moments.
It has generated a remarkably amount of commentary around the globe.
In the USA:
‘Between the malaprops and other bumbling, this might just make you feel better about your leader, wherever you live.’
In New Zealand:
‘The most grotesque spectacle in recent years has been that of an Australian prime minister on tour in the United States.’
‘You'd think that being the leader of a country in the free world would mean that you're a well-rounded and media savvy individual. Think again.’
In the UK:
‘Neatly sums up just how appalling Tony Abbott Is.’
‘Australia is led by a narcissistic clown.'
Fifth was the bizarre decision to rename Occupied East Jerusalem ‘Disputed’.
La Info in Spain reported: 'Fouetter à l’Australie de se référer à Jérusalem-Est comme la terre “contesté”' (Australia lashed for labelling East Jerusalem “disputed”).
Israel’s Haaretz highlighted the wide condemnation this unilateral decision generated:
'Muslim states rap Australia over East Jerusalem terminology’.
Sixth was Abbott’s profound insult to Indigenous people last Thursday, when he claimed Australia before the British arrived was
“... then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled."
Russia’s news service Bigmir.net titled its story on this
‘Australian Prime Minister insulted Aboriginals’.
It quoted Indigenous Senator Nova Peris calling these words 'offensive':
'In addition, they are simply wrong. Peris added that this statement negates all efforts to consolidate the status of Aboriginal people in the constitution.'
Portuguese media group RPP Internacional reported:
‘Australia: social media ridicule for PM’s comments'.
RPP claimed social networks exploded in criticism – 'estallaron en críticas' – at the 'racist and ignorant' prime minister.
So it seems another Australian prime minister has captivated most of the world’s media. Much as happened almost two years ago with a certain famous misogyny speech aimed at a certain misogynist.
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