A Great Opportunity Lost - The AIM Network
So, the much anticipated and touted G20 is upon us.
It will be interesting watching our leaders rubbing shoulders with
other world leaders. Doubtless, each of them will be hoping the
television cameras capture moments that will enhance their own personal
political aims. While the G20 will be little more than a talkfest with
attitude, the expectation from the Coalition government is that it will
place them in a more favourable light with voters and get them a boost
in the polls.
It won’t work.
It is rare for government leaders of any nation to have the
opportunity to meet with so many other leaders in one place in such a
short space of time; a sort of one-stop shopping experience. So, we can
anticipate that there will be some furious back room argy-bargy going on
to enable a succession of meetings to take place.
That means Australia will be competing with the likes of the USA,
Russia, UK, Brazil and China to have time with India, for example.
India, we are told is the next ‘big thing’ and every country that has
something to offer will be knocking on their door.
Brazil will want to chat with Indonesia and put a dent in Australia’s
live animal export market and the bigger issue of climate change, while
embarrassingly absent from the agenda, will also be discussed at these
world is changing. The new goals, looking forward, are focused on
renewable energy targets. The announcement in China this week that the
Chinese and the US have reached an agreement on some ambitious,
renewable energy targets makes our 5% reduction on 2005 levels look
Since our government has made it so abundantly clear that they want
to adjust that figure to reflect a recent reduction in coal fired energy
use, no one will be interested in discussing climate change with us. We
will be seen, if not already, to be on the margins when it comes to
renewable energy initiatives. Having reversed the former Labor
government’s direction, the Coalition has no currency on climate change.
So where does this leave us, or more particularly, the Coalition?
Abbott and company will be struggling to find much that is positive for
Australia except a likely free trade agreement with China, one that has
already been upstaged by the China/US climate agreement.
trade agreements, however, are never free. There are always winners and
losers. I can’t think of any benefits that I have experienced courtesy
of our existing FTA with the US. I’m sure there are some, but I can’t
see them and I doubt their real value. I’m sure, however, there are
benefits for the Americans. The government will struggle to convince
Australians that a FTA with China has any lasting benefit for us, but
I’m sure there will be for the Chinese.
So, in the overall coverage, I expect the media will concentrate on the mediocre.
Doubtless they will concoct a few anecdotes about various leaders,
hoping that one or more might make a comic slip up, or pat a Koala Bear,
take a photo with a Kangaroo or something equally benign. There will be
much written and filmed about the security arrangements. But the real
stories about each national leader’s contribution and position on where
the planet is heading, will be ignored largely, because of
their inconsistencies with Australia’s quite backwoods approach.
we therefore surmise that what could have been an event of great pride
for Australia and a boost for the government’s polling, has been lost?
Indeed, it has already been bungled because of Tony Abbott’s inability
to effectively articulate a convincing narrative. His appalling claim to
‘shirtfront’ Vladimir Putin has been turned into a soap opera and a
very poor one at that. The media reaction to Russian warships in the
vicinity of our territorial waters has made them and the government look
The government have already shot themselves in the foot, firstly by
Abbott’s juvenile approach to Putin and secondly because of the
government’s climate change policies. Any hope or expectation of a poll
boost they thought might occur as a result of the G20 is little more
than a pipe dream. To the Labor party, I say, this should have been your
moment in the sun.