That(cher) speech: Surely Abbott's last hoorah?

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(Image via @jarro56)

If Abbott thought he'd set the world on fire with his 'Final Solution' speech, most consigned him to the bin of slightly dim, foreign right wing nutjobs along with Sarah Palin, Geert Wilders and Pauline Hanson. Another must-read cracker from Alan Austin.

THE WORLD'S fascination with Tony Abbott’s bizarre pratfalls did not end when he lost Australia’s top job. But it is now rapidly diminishing.

Wednesday’s disturbing speech in London attracted headlines in some countries, although fewer than when he appointed one lone woman to his ministry, slashed overseas aid, flipped the bird at global collaboration on climate, knighted Prince Philip, refused to rescue Rohingya refugees at sea, paid bribes to people traffickers and ate that raw onion.

Italy’s Post Nazionale headed a short item ‘Former Australian Prime Minister calls on Europe to reject migrants’. It continued:

‘In reviewing the political and cultural legacies of Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister said that Europe should follow Thatcher and not the inflated moral obligation – l’inflazionato imperativo morale – of treating neighbours as themselves.’

How that is received in predominantly Catholic Italy is a fair question. As this is filed, there are no comments in the discussion section. Disapprovazione silenziosa perhaps?

The godless Communists in China were keen to highlight condemnation by God’s people.

The Shanghai Daily said:

Abbott's comments drew a backlash in Australia on Wednesday, with Catholic priests slamming the comments as “appalling”, while Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning labelled the speech as “disappointing” and “simplistic”.’

Indonesia’s Kompas titled its report, ‘Tony Abbott Instructs European Countries To Close Borders for Refugees’. Then followed:

“Former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, said European countries would make a ‘fatal mistake’ – kesalahan fatal – if they do not close their borders to refugees.’

Abbott: "Our moral obligation is not to provide to permanent residency for everyone who'd rather ive in prosperous western country."

The New York Times appears the only U.S. journal to have noticed the speech. It headed its story ‘Tony Abbott, Ousted Australian Leader, Urges Europe to Take Hard Line on Migrants’.

It noted that Abbott’s comments were

‘endorsed by Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing U.K. Independence Party, which is known for its anti-immigration stance. Mr Farage told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation that the former prime minister was “heroic” and “absolutely right”.’

The NYT included the complaint by Rupert Colville, from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, about ‘the growing number of rape and sexual assault accusations made by detainees on Nauru that have gone unprosecuted’.

Russia Today ran a straight story, titled ‘Australian ex-PM urges EU to drop “misguided altruism” & close borders to refugees’. It included excerpts from the speech, but no commentary positive or negative. Intriguingly, the extended online discussion following elicited mostly condemnation from readers.

Apart from those, not much reportage outside London. Nothing in any major journal in Canada, Ireland, France, Spain, Switzerland or Scandinavia. Significantly, in the countries most impacted by Syrian refugees – Greece, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Turkey – no reports at all.

In Britain, most coverage appears to have consigned Abbott to the bin of slightly dim, foreign right wing nutters along with Sarah Palin, Geert Wilders and Pauline Hanson.

Londoner’s Diary in The Standard headed its piece, ‘Tony talks the Tory language over migrants’. It said that

‘Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has lost little of his robustness, nor found much charm, since losing power six weeks ago.’

The UK Guardian opted for straight ridicule:

Now let me say this. When I was prime minister I didn’t choose to lecture other countries on how to run their international relations. But, to be honest, I’m now at a bit of a loose end and who wouldn’t pass up the opportunity of a free flight to watch the Wallabies give the Kiwis a pasting in the rugby World Cup final? So here goes.

Here’s the problem with you Europeans. You’re just a bunch of hand-wringing pussies. You’re too nice to foreigners. Every time some loser turns up at your borders whinging about how hard their lives are, you fall for their sob stories. So let me tell you straight. Man up, before it’s too late. As Jesus himself once told me in person, if you don’t look after number one then everyone else will just take advantage of you. Only when hundreds of thousands of them have died will they realise they were better off dying wherever it was they came from. Doing this may take some getting used to and gnaw at your conscience but, take it from me, you’ll soon get over it.

The Express felt the need to shout a little: ‘Ex Australian PM tells Britain — turn the migrant boats BACK or you will BREAK’. It claimed Abbott ‘has ordered Britain’ to close its borders to asylum seekers.

‘Tony Abbott has delivered a chilling speech’, declared Britain’s Sun Nation.

The Daily Mail accepted that most readers only read headlines:

‘Tony Abbott says Europe opening its borders to refugees is a “catastrophic error” and says they must turn back the boats’.

In all this coverage, the file photos chosen, the quotes selected and the commentary thereon suggest Abbott is regarded as belonging in the xenophobic fringe.

All Australian outlets covered the story, of course, some emphasising the “heroic” more than others. Notable headlines include, from SBS: ‘World Leaders Patiently Listen As Man Explains How He Lost His Job.

And from The Shovel ‘Europe Deeply Regrets Not Closing Border Before Abbott Arrived’.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanTheAmazing.

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