Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winds and tides of political expediency

For the last word on the Antarctic misadventure of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, perhaps expedition leader Chris Turney might borrow something like the following from Prime Minister Tony Abbott:

On the high seas all sorts of things happen; there are winds, there are tides, there are other things that they’re focussing on. … Even people who are the very best at their job will occasionally make mistakes – test cricketers occasionally drop catches, great footballers occasionally miss tackles.

That ought to silence Turney’s critics, because Mr Abbott’s winds-and-tides dodge certainly seems to satisfy his government’s boosters in relation to the Australian Navy’s “straying” into Indonesian waters. In these days of satellite positioning and radar, it beggars belief that navy vessels could stray so widely, on not one but at least two occasions.

Regarding the Navy’s Indonesian detours, my conjecture is that Abbott was terrified that any embarrassing disasters occurring in the course of those initial tow-backs might discredit his Government’s policy; hence he required the Navy to go all in. The PM seemed quite sanguine today about pre-empting findings of an anticipated inquiry into the incidents – of which the Government may yet deem the Australian people not grown-up enough to be informed of the findings.

Sadly, the Government and its boosters will have no compunction about letting the Navy take the rap for supposedly “dropping the ball,” while Abbott and Morrison duck for cover.

Nor will any alarm bells ring in their heads for a defence service increasingly politicised and subject to the whims of executive government.

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