Cavan Hogue. Petroshenko visit.

15/12/2014

President Petroshenko should be received courteously and his visit should be used to seek further trade with Ukraine. There is no reason to avoid cordial relations with Ukraine but our Government is going a lot further than that.

Ukraine is a distant European country where we have limited interests. The Prime Minister appears to be using it as an excuse to attack Russia. Mr Abbott was a successful Leader of the Opposition but he is finding that building is a lot harder than demolition. President Putin provides an enemy on whom he can exercise his attack dog skills and Mr Abbott has used the MH17 tragedy for domestic purposes. Creating foreign threats to draw attention away from domestic failures is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Australia is not a European country and should leave European problems to Europeans.

The Prime Minister announced that Australia will set up a resident embassy in Kiev to replace the existing dual accreditation from Poland. What this is supposed to achieve is not clear. Presumably the Foreign Minister will have to find the money & staff from an already overstretched budget to provide the resources for this venture. Was she consulted before an announcement was made? Was DFAT asked for an assessment of where Ukraine stands in our foreign policy priorities? Do we need more expenditure at a time when everyone is being asked to cut expenditure?  Or is this Sheriff Abbott shooting from the hip again?

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