John Menadue. Undiplomatic, politically partisan – and wrong!

Julie Bishop has decided to take on the President of the United States over his comments to an audience at the University of Queensland on the state of the Great Barrier Reef.

It shows immaturity to jump in so quickly to defend what I think is the indefensible by attacking others without any real basis.

It is also an example of how the Liberal Party sees the alliance between us and the US, not as an alliance between our two countries, but as a special relationship between the Liberal Party of Australia and the Right Wing of the Republican Party in the US.  Such behaviour does great damage to Australia’s long term relationship with the US

In attempting to rebut President Obama, Julia Bishop said ‘Of course the Great Barrier Reef will be conserved for generations to come. And we do not believe that it is in danger.’ Yet Australian experts on the subject tell us quite clearly that the reef is in real danger.

  • Ove Hoegh-Gulberg, the Director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, said that President Obama was ‘right on the money. … He is stating the facts … the reef has already shrunk by half in 30 years, with climate change a factor in the retreat.’
  • Charlie Veron, the former Chief Scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, said ‘In the long term, that is the whole of this century, we are going to have the Great Barrier Reef slaughtered … if carbon dioxide emissions keep trending as they are.’
  • Dr Jon Brodie, the Chief Research Scientist at James Cook University said ‘Julie Bishop’s comments contradicted the government’s own report on the state of the reef. … The report found the reef to be in poor condition and the outlook is for continuing deterioration … it’s obviously in danger. … Under the government’s 2050 action plan, the reef will continue to decline.’

The clear error by Julie Bishop on the Great Barrier Reef follows a pattern of climate change denial by Tony Abbott and the government.

This undiplomatic response by our Foreign Minister and poor action on policy is becoming part of a pattern as I set out in my blog of 18 November ‘Julie Bishop-substance and style’.

  • In the last Coalition budget she was responsible for the largest reduction in overseas development aid by this country. It was the largest cut in the budget.
  • She unnecessarily sided with Japan against China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
  • She sided with Israel against overwhelming world opinion over the continuing expansion of settlements by the Israeli Government.
  • Her megaphone diplomacy over MH17 achieved very little. It was the Malaysian Government that negotiated with the rebels in the Ukraine and secured access to the crash site, the return of most of the bodies and the recovery and return of the black boxes.
  • Despite the posturing in the Security Council on Ebola, we have been very slow,selfish and restrictive in our response.

And now we are seeing the most diplomatic and gauche mistake of all with the attack on the President of the US.

I would be confident that this extraordinary  attack  on President Obama would be against the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It  very likely came directly from the private offices of Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop.  The PM would probably not want to do the job himself, so the media obsessed Foreign Minister  obliged.

Despite misstep after misstep the media has given Julie Bishop a very free run. Perhaps the media is giving her this free run because it feels guilty about the unfair treatment that it dealt out to Julia Gillard!.

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