Out of his depth Abbott sinks Australia further into the merde

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(cartoons by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au)

Those dismayed at the many humiliations Tony Abbott has brought upon Australia have had another appalling week. Alan Austin reports from France.

PM Abbott: Not waving, drowning

‘Australia abolishes carbon tax. Step backwards?’

That’s the intro to Thursday’s article in Taiwan’s Taipei Times.

It continues:

‘Tony Abbott praised the scrapping of a "useless, destructive tax," while critics called it an embarrassment that would make Australia a global pariah.’

Strong words. But if Australia was not already a global pariah before this week, it is now.

Last week’s report at IA on worldwide negative news bulletins on Abbott’s performance quoted 30 articles in 16 countries. Not too bad.

To these can now be added Taiwan, Sweden, Singapore and Japan. That’s 20. Not good.

Then must be added India, Switzerland, China, Pakistan, Qatar, Norway, Macedonia, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Kuwait. That makes an even 30 countries all running highly damaging news stories about Australia. And, no doubt, there are more.

Issues include Abbott’s attacks on the poor in the May budget, the unravelling of relations with Indonesia and his multiple humiliations abroad.

Two issues this week have dismayed the watching world even further.

Switzerland daily gazette Tages-Anzeiger reported the carbon tax repeal, noting Australia is the first country in the world to abandon climate control measures:

‘The controls were directed at the 350 biggest polluters in the country. The Conservatives triumph.’

Norway’s Aftenposten focussed on the environmental movement’s rage against the decision – ‘raser mot vedtaket’.

It noted Australia is among the world’s highest greenhouse gas emitters per capita, but its prime minister

‘... has repeatedly denied that climate change is the result of human activities.’

SvD Näringsliv in neighbouring Sweden ran a similar item:

The decision is a success for the Australian government, but also a giant step backwards ['jättekliv bakåt'] for climate change.

France’s Le Vif also reported objections of environmentalists worldwide.

It quoted president of Britain’s committee on climate change, Lord Deben:

‘Tony Abbott is recklessly endangering the future of the planet.’

EurActiv in France headed its report:

'L’UE déplore l’abandon de la taxe carbone en Australie [The European Union deplores Australia axeing the carbon tax].'

It quoted Dane Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s Commissioner for Climate Action:

"The EU regrets Australia withdrawing its carbon tax mechanism just as initiatives to put a price on carbon are emerging elsewhere in the world."

In the UK The Telegraph reported that Abbott’s decision was

‘... despite warnings by scientists that he was ignoring the evidence on climate change’ and was therefore pursuing a ‘perfect storm of stupidity.'

Germany’s Die Freie Welt claimed that after Abbott last year closed the Climate Commission, this move will further the

‘... deterioration of relations between Australia and countries committed to influencing climate change.'

In Qatar, Al Jazeera subtitled its report:

‘Senate votes to end tax on nation's worst greenhouse gas polluters in move Greens call an appalling day for Australia.’

From the United States, the influential UPI agency led with:

‘Thursday's vote by the Australian Senate to repeal a carbon tax is a "historic act of irresponsibility," the director of a top climate advocacy group said.’

The other cause of humiliation for Australia this week was Abbott rewriting World War II history by praising Japanese soldiers for their

"... skill and sense of honour."

Several Chinese news outlets reported Abbott’s ‘senselessness’ with varying degrees of dismay.


‘Abbott's admiration of Japanese war skills insensible to victims’.

Guangming Online:

‘Australian prime minister's praise of Japanese troops are harshly criticized’.

The Global Times:

‘Australian FM’s China stance senseless’.

The Straits Times in Singapore announced:

‘China blasts Australia over Abbott’s World War II comments’.

Buy the original John Graham cartoon at the IA online store.

TST quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei claiming that, if reports of Abbott’s remarks were true,

“... no one with a conscience could agree with them."

Kuwait’s KUNA headed its report:

‘China criticizes Australian FM [foreign minister] for Japanese aggression’.

It quoted China’s Xinhua News Agency:

‘Japanese fascist invaders brought profound suffering to people in a number of countries, including Australia, during World War II. Their aggression was extremely brutal.’

In India, ZeeNews also highlighted China’s contempt for Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop, quoting China’s Global Times [IA emphasis]:

'Bishop's verbal provocation made her look more like one of the often pointless 'angry youths' found in the Chinese cyber sphere than a diplomat ... The Chinese-language editorial was in places more strongly worded, referring to Bishop as an “idiot”. She was already on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when she visited Beijing in December ... after Canberra criticised China's declaration of an air defence zone in the East China Sea.'

India’s Usum headed its report:

‘Tony Abbott cops it for praising Japan WWII skills’.

Bahrain’s Daily Tribune opened a similar story with:

‘China yesterday slammed a remark by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott praising Japanese military personnel during World War II, while state-run media said Australia was once “roamed by rascals”.’

A thoughtful piece in Indonesia’s Jakarta Globe was headed:

‘As Beijing can shift its orders elsewhere, going hard on China isn’t easy for Australia’.

The analysis suggested Abbott:

‘... is grasping for a harder line on China and not doing it very well ... Last week, though, he went off the diplomatic rails ...’

Even Japanese publications criticised Abbott's, with The Diplomat heading its item:

‘Abbott’s WWII comments draw China’s ire’.

It quoted Chinese news outlet Xinhua’s ‘scathing attack on Abbott’ following the speech:

‘By making such a comment, Abbott showed how insensible he is towards people in China and other countries who had suffered greatly as a result of the ‘advanced’ war skills of Japanese troops and their sense of honor during their aggression. It also makes people wonder how far Australia under his leadership would go to support Japan.’

A similar report featured in Pakistan’s Dunya News.

In Macedonia, the heading in Bukvar.mk’s brief report was simply:

They [Japanese troops] were bloody cannibals’.

It continued:

‘World War 2 veterans and the RSL are angry and disappointed over Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s praise for Japan’s war record.’

In the UK, The Independent put it bluntly up front:

‘Tony Abbott embarrasses Australia by praising Japanese WWII military, "getting on the sake" and posing for "crotch-shot" photo opportunity.'

The Times led with:

‘China fury as Abbott hails skill of Japan’s wartime troops’.

Britain’s Daily Mail could not resist pointing to Abbott’s hung-over performance on morning TV:

‘Was the PM dusty? Tony Abbott cops a ribbing over whether he had too much Sake with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’.

The Standard in Hong Kong amplified the criticism in China’s press with an item titled:

‘Chinese paper slams Australia over Abe visit’.

And therein lies Australia’s problem.

The blunders are the work of an inept government led by a stumblebum PM, so clearly out of his depth in foreign affairs, he is an international joke.

But it is the nation the world is really laughing at.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanTheAmazing.

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John Graham originals, including the one above, may be purchased from IA's online store.

See more of John's political art on his Cartoons and Caricatures Facebook page.

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