Macklin: Missing bits in Santa’s free-trade stocking

“We will get $1500 off each imported Japanese car formerly made by our own workers here. Whoopee!” writes ROBERT MACKLIN

WOULDN’T it be great if all the economic marvels claimed by PM Tony Abbott and Trade Minister Andrew Robb for those agreements with Japan and South Korea came true. At first blush it sounded like Santa Claus was making a special trip Down Under.


Robert Macklin

Alas, the reality arrived when we opened our stocking next morning and discovered what was missing: no dairy, no rice, and the beef and wine deals simply mimicked those already done with some of our competitors while others waited in a queue behind us.

But we will get $1500 off each imported Japanese car formerly made by our own workers here. Whoopee!

KATY Gallagher and Andrew Barr were also travelling with Tony and scoring points with potential investors from Shanghai. This is the real achievement of the PM’s mission; and a nice poke in the eye from Abbott to those anti-Chinese investment zealots in the Coalition.

YOU would not have heard any of this from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who was still coming to terms with his party’s drubbing in WA. “Big changes are needed,” he lamented.

Too true Bill, and they should start right at the top. Trouble is, under the new rules the leadership is virtually impregnable… Kevin Rudd’s final legacy to Labor. Abbott should have a word to his mate George Pell and get Kev canonised.

ASTONISHING to hear that the Departments of Immigration, Defence, Centrelink and Social Services have been secretly “monitoring” their public servants’ activities on social media.

It’s not only an egregious intrusion but an exercise in futility. And who’d want the job when 90 per cent of it is organising office parties and gossiping about who’s doing what to whom?

But most interesting was the Department that did not indulge: Attorney-General’s under whose umbrella ASIO operates. By law the official agency operatives have to get a signed approval from the A-G himself to intercept an Australian citizen’s chat. And it’s strictly policed.

SPEAKING of ASIO, Director-General David Irvine, who announced his September retirement this week, will be a hard act to follow. In his 11 years heading ASIS and ASIO he has walked that fine line between winkling out trouble-makers and maintaining democratic freedoms. Such personal attributes are very thin on the ground. Perhaps it’s time a woman was given a go. Suggestions, please.

AT the other end of the character spectrum this week was the self-aggrandising Foreign Minister-in-passing, Bob Carr. The skinny kid from the fibro backstreets of Maroubra has become so precious that business class travel is no longer appropriate for his delicate sensibilities. He must have first, complete with his own jimjams and menu a la carte. The media has not been kind, but the Maroubra boys have a word that sums it up best: ‘Wanker!’

ON a more pleasant note, for that perfect Anzac Day present you really can’t go past Canberra author Elizabeth Brenchley’s “Stoker’s Submarine”. It was originally written with her late husband Fred on the amazing Aussie Sub AE2 that nearly turned the tide of battle at Gallipoli. Now Elizabeth has added the mystery of its sister ship “AE1” lost off the New Guinea coast. It’s a great read.



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