Flat White

China strife? Blame Canberra’s acronym alphabet soup

8 December 2020

7:41 PM

8 December 2020

7:41 PM

A World War I slogan in the Kaiser’s Germany proclaimed ‘When the bayonet goes in, it should hit steel, not schmalz — chicken fat.’ 

Currently, a Chinese bayonet is being pushed into Australia’s national polity, hitting high grade, premium butter. Having started with a spiteful, insulting tweet from China, Russia then took advantage to pile in with a tweet that also denigrated Australian Special Forces  — completely ignoring their ignominious record in Afghanistan. Even Qatar, home of that infamous airport search incident, weighed in, threatening to punish Australia with trade sanctions. 

Who’s to blames?

We can start with the acronyms,; DFAT the ABC, DoD and VA, the last Veteranss Affairs, whose bureaucrats might have shown firmer support to returned service personnel.  

Scuttlebutt in Canberra, that most gossipy of cities, is that DFAT, whose brief is –- or was — to serve Australia’s diplomatic interests overseas, has degenerated into a muddle of do-gooding, identity politics and the handing out of grants 

Even the triumph of the rescue from an Iranian hellhole prison of a woman accused of spying only on the grounds that she had a relationship with an Israeli, was marred by whispers that the Thais, who were holding three Iranian terror suspects released in exchange, had been reminded of the bravery of the two Australians responsible for the schoolboys in the flooded cave rescue before moving.  

It can be argued that the ends justify the means, in desperate circumstances. But a Department  seemingly more concerned with spreading global goodwill, headed by a Minister applauded as being the most culturally sensitive in Cabinet, is not a good fit for our times. Niceness doesn’t cut it any more when dealing with the CCP. Just ask President Putin.  

DFAT also  appears to have relinquished the ‘T’ in its title – Trade has been abandoned in favour of grand diplomatic gestures (Australia recently contributed a lot of money for an artistic mural to be created in downtown Teheran – a gesture supporters of Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert might have something to say about.)  

It is perfectly acceptable for a woman to head DFAT. Departmental head Frances Adamson is a master of the art of steely negotiation but it would be preferable for the Minister to be of the calibre of a Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi, the last assassinated because she would not yield on the question of a separate Sikh state.  

Hierarchy being paramount, the public service will always bend to Ministerial priorities, as well as preferences, even feelings and foibles, in choices made on policy decisions.  

The CCP has problems accepting a woman as an equal in any leadership role, even more so to demonstrate the steel fist under the velvet glove.  

The other acronym largely to blame -– the ABC –- under yet another Chair and Board seemingly operating under Stockholm Syndrome conditions, must bear much of the blame for OTT reporting that has enraged ordinary Australians and provoked  Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher into demanding answers into their patently biased reporting. (Fletcher’s terse interview with RN drive time host Patricia Karvelas was anything but bland).

Perhaps we need a new acronym removed from the alphabet soup of acronyms that is Canberra – WSWA We Stand With Australia.  

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