Free David Hicks, but fumble on Stern Hu
He may be known as the Ruddbot, but when it comes to his much vaunted specialist skills on China, it would seem that batteries were not included.
As the Prime Minister plays catch up on being caught flat footed on the Stern Hu case, he needs to demonstrate that his special China skills are not just a party trick, but can genuinely be used in Australia’s interests.
When in Opposition, Kevin Rudd was quick to criticise John Howard, claiming he was “dragging his feet on providing Mr Hicks with a fair trial”. These were his exact words in a door stop he gave almost four years ago on August 2.
He then went on to say: “John Howard is George Bush’s best mate. Surely John Howard can organise for this individual to have a fair trial?”
Well, Prime Minister, if that is your standard, then you are not measuring up for Mr Hu and his family, whom Mr Hu will not see for at least six months.
The Prime Minister needs to display that he is prepared to stand up for Australians - and not only when they are wearing orange jumpsuits.
He must stand up for all Australians, especially when they are seeking to negotiate trade deals for Australia that will deliver billions of dollars and support thousands of jobs.
Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop have rightly called on Mr Rudd to pick up the phone - not the megaphone - to his counterpart in China.
Labor’s response has been simply to attack Mr Turnbull.
Instead, it is Mr Rudd who has now picked up the megaphone.
In a desperate attempt to make up for his sluggishness, he has flicked the switch to public threats and posturing - so much for the measured approach he was proposing just a day or so ago.
Only yesterday, one of the Government’s up-and-coming spokespeople, Jason Clare said on Sky News said that this issue could not be resolved by picking up the phone. Perhaps they believe it will be resolved by telepathy.
This is a very serious issue. Business information is apparently now a state secret when it comes to doing business in China. What’s next? If Qantas comes up against Air China in some merger or global partnership negotiation, will frequent flyer programmes become state secrets?
Not only do we need to ensure that Mr Hu receives every level of support we can provide, including direct discussions at the highest levels of the Chinese Government, we also need to be addressing the very serious issue of how we go forward in conducting business in China.
Australian business people have always been sensitive to the fact that doing business in China is different.
Of course it is, this is still a state run economy.
The rule of law means something very different.
But there needs to be some certainty for our relationship to continue to grow.
The price for this certainty cannot be the erosion of the rights of Australian citizens doing business in China.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…