Tony Abbott and his very close confidante, Mark Textor. John Menadue

To refuse to apologise to President Yudhoyono would be entirely consistent with the type of advice that Mark Textor has given to a succession of Liberal leaders in Australia, including Tony Abbott.

In his texting Mark Textor has made the point, according to Laurie Tingle in the AFR today “that (Australian) voters don’t give rats if Indonesia was offended by the revelation of eavesdropping.” This is consistent with the view of Textor that the media and the blogger sphere are filled with elite opinion which is not held in the community in general.

Dextor then went on in his texting to speak more colourfully of ‘an apology demanded from Australia by a bloke who looks like a 1970s Pilipino (sic) pornstar with the ethics to match’. Textor declined to say if he was referring to President Yudhoyono or Foreign Minister Natalegawa.  Textor has subsequently withdrawn the twitter messages, but the damage has been done and the message conveyed. He is in effect telling the media that Australians don’t think much of Indonesians, so why should we apologise.

The Crosby/Textor web site tells us that their firm is “Australia’s most successful pollster and strategist. Mark Textor is acknowledged as the most astute judge of political sentiment in Australia” In 2007 the Australian Financial Review described Textor as one of the ten most powerful people in Australia because of the valuable advice he was able to offer to clients. Amongst many Conservative leaders, Mark Textor is regarded as a guru.

Textor has form in advising Tony Abbott. In the 2010 election he is widely credited with giving Tony Abbott the infamous lines that Abbott repeated time and time again – ‘we will stop the boats’, ‘stop the big new taxes’, ‘end the waste’ and ‘pay back the debt’. Tony Abbott now seems to be adding another one liner, “don’t apologise”.

Textor has been politically invaluable to Tony Abbott  and the Liberal Party. Few people are as politically close to Tony Abbott as Mark Textor.

If Tony Abbott wants to repair relations with Indonesia, he must distance himself from Mark Textor. Malcolm Fraser called on the Liberal Party to sack Textor. The fact is that Textor is too valuable for the Liberal Party to sack him.

And what of the 21 firms that have now employed Crosby Textor Research Strategies Results to lobby on their behalf in Canberra. These firms include the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, the leading lobby group for the oil and gas industry. The APPEA is particularly campaigning for government support for the coal-seam gas industry.

The Crosby/Textor web site also tells us that Textor’s direct clients include the Australian Bankers’ Association and the Business Council of Australia. I wonder how their businesses with Indonesia will fare now!

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