Leading article Australia

Congratulations Julie, Malcolm

26 May 2018

9:00 AM

26 May 2018

9:00 AM

So it seems that somebody finally picked up that pristine copy of The Spectator Australia that is usually left untouched under a pile of well-thumbed Guardians, Sydney Morning Heralds and Monthlys lying on the marble coffee counters of our illustrious, if somewhat left-leaning, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Or perhaps it was just our own poor timing.

Either way, it is with great pleasure that we offer our heartiest congratulations to both Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for proving in such a timely and spectacular manner how wrong we were in last week’s editorial to castigate the Turnbull government for ‘never failing to miss an opportunity’ to support both Donald Trump and the state of Israel.

As we said last week: ‘The decision by Australia to boycott the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem is yet another in a long and embarrassing line of snubs directed at Donald Trump by the leadership team of Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop… Both the US and Israel are two of our most important allies culturally, economically, historically and militarily. By betraying them, we betray ourselves.’

Within two days of that editorial going to print came the exciting news that Australia stood shoulder to shoulder with the US – alone in the world – to vote down the cynical attempt by the United Nations to sheet the blame for the recent Gaza deaths onto Israel. (When of course, as both Tom Grein and Neil Brown observe in this week’s issue, there is only one entity to be held to account for those pointless deaths and its name sounds suspiciously like a famous Levantine chickpea dip.)


To recap, last Friday the UN Human Rights Council voted for a high-level investigation into the Gaza deaths with a resolution to ‘urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry’. The problem was, the ludicrous resolution failed to mention Hamas at all.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed the council’s decision, saying: ‘At a time when Venezuela lurches toward dictatorship, Iran imprisons thousands of political opponents, and ethnic cleansing has taken place in Burma, the UN’s so-called Human Rights Council has decided to launch an investigation into a democratic country’s legitimate defence of its own border against terrorist attacks.’

Julie Bishop largely concurred: ‘The protesters should not seek to enter the Israeli territories by force. Hamas should not be instigating this kind of protest which they must know could lead to violence…’ before adding the ubiquitous but wholly unnecessary caveat that ‘…the Israelis must use proportionate measures in self-defence.’

Only two of the council’s 47 members, ourselves and the Americans, voted against the resolution, while 29 voted in favour and 14 abstained, including Britain, Switzerland and Germany.

The numbers speak volumes about a potential shift in not only the priorities, but more importantly the ‘ticker’ of the Turnbull government. Up until now, the argument from Coalition supporters has been that there is ‘no point’ in Australia going out on a limb for Donald Trump (or Israel), particularly on ‘progressive’ issues such as withdrawing from the Iran deal or the Paris Accord.

But perhaps the sands are finally starting to shift, at least as far as the Middle East is concerned. Let’s hope we see more Australian backbone. Heeding Mike Pompeo’s call for us to actually join with the US in reining in Iran would be a terrific starting point.

This magazine has long argued that electoral success for the Coalition lies in stridently opposing trendy lefty policies, not in mimicking them by kowtowing to the baying Twitter mobs of the increasingly neo-Marxist Left.

Let’s hope that this is not just a one-off, and that the Turnbull government does start to play a more constructively conservative role on the world stage. Who knows, maybe someone at DFAT might think about ordering a second copy of the Speccie for those gilded coffee counters.

All at sea

‘The wave of bigotry and fear that flows out of Canberra and into the streets of Parramatta adds to Antonio’s confusion and isolation, as he is seduced by an odd group of right-wing troublemakers.’ Yep, that’s from a review of No More Boats, a novel about asylum-seekers and the Tampa crisis shortlisted for this years $60,000 Miles Franklin Award. And to think that some conservatives are cynical about the Left’s politicisation of our Aussie culture.

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