Asia in 2016: Australia

Asia in 2016: AustraliaAfter a decade of political instability in Australia – the prime-ministership has changed hands five times since 2007 – last year might have brought a dose of normality to the country’s national affairs. Instead, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull fought a close election that was marked by a surge of right-wing populism that saw stridently anti-immigrant…

China Finds a Friend in Australia

China Finds a Friend in AustraliaChinese influence in Australia is growing across a broad front, from political donations to Confucius Institute teachings in primary schools and university institutes funded from Beijing. These continuing efforts to spread soft power have found a new friend, with an announcement that content from Chinese newspapers and wires will run in Australian media and on…

Oz Premier Abbott Goes Tone-Deaf at G20 Meeting

Oz Premier Abbott Goes Tone-Deaf at G20 MeetingAccording to the fable, the spider said to the fly, “Welcome to my parlor” and then made a feast of the fly.  On Monday in Australia’s national capital, Canberra, we saw a totally different reenactment of the fable when  the fly, aka Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said to the spider, better known as Chinese…

Putin Calls Oz Leader Abbott’s Bluff

Putin Calls Oz Leader Abbott’s BluffRussian President Vladimir Putin has turned back the clock to the 1930s by using an updated form of “gunboat diplomacy” to ridicule and humiliate Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a major international diplomatic insult. Abbott threatened to “shirtfront” Putin, or use physical violence, over what Abbott perceived as Russia’s role over the rocket destruction…

Australia’s Sticky Plastic Money Trail

Australia’s Sticky Plastic Money TrailThe Australian government’s efforts to contain the regional political fallout from the country’s first big foreign bribery trial has boomeranged, with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono demanding to know why his name has been mentioned in an unusual blanket suppression order issued by the judge who will hear the case. As Asia Sentinel reported on…

Aussie Mining Billionaire May not be a Buffoon

Aussie Mining Billionaire May not be a BuffoonAustralian mining billionaire and self-funded politician Clive Palmer is best known for his clownish personality. But as the ruling coalition sinks in the polls and the eponymous Palmer United Party is set to hold the balance of power in Australia’s Upper House Senate come July 1, he is emerging, and behaving, as a more serious…

Oz’s Abbott Crosses Indonesia Again

Oz’s Abbott Crosses Indonesia AgainAustralian foreign policy is in disarray with Prime Minister Tony Abbott again having infuriated Indonesia. At the same time, some Australian business groups are seeking to set their own foreign agenda to manipulate policy towards China to further their business interests. Abbot’s misstep was to cancel, at the last minute, a conference in Bali to…

PM Abbott Takes Oz Back to Year Zero

PM Abbott Takes Oz Back to Year ZeroThe appointment of former Liberal Party member and conservative Tim Wilson to the Australian Human Rights Commission has been met with justifiable skepticism from the general public, considering he recently said the commission should be ditched. Wilson was installed by the Tony Abbot government on Dec. 23, supposedly to bring balance to an institution that by their…

Old-world Ideas Rule Australia’s Indonesia Dealings

Old-world Ideas Rule Australia’s Indonesia DealingsFor Australia, creating a long-term relationship with Indonesia that serves Australia’s interests is just part of the broader task of coming to terms with the shift of wealth and power to Australia’s Asian neighbors, which is what makes this the ‘Asian century’. Following the handling of revelations that Australian spies tapped the phones of Indonesia’s…

Abbott Blacks Out the Media

Abbott Blacks Out the MediaWhen Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison recently said he would only be giving one media briefing a week on border protection issues, the alarm bells started ringing. A media blackout on an issue that virtually dominated the election? Was this new nanny state intent on blanketing possible failures and mistakes in a bid to avoid…
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