Macklin / Foreign matters and public regrets, of sorts

“Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s announcement that Manus would be closed down raised more issues than he cared to address,” writes Seven Days columnist ROBERT MACKLIN

Athlete Investment dpiMUCH of the action this last week concerned matters foreign, not least the imbroglio over refugee detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

Indeed, the announcement by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton that Manus would be closed down raised more issues than he cared to address.

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin.

Instead he railed against “The Guardian” and the ABC for daring to pursue the exposure of child abuse on Nauru. The reports, he said, were “hype” and “false allegations”. However, Labor, the Greens and crossbench senators seem certain to initiate an official inquiry.

There are even hints that the government will revisit Labor’s “Malaysian solution” of swapping boat people for refugees already processed in that country. It would be an extraordinary volte face, but both Tony Abbott and his former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison have publicly regretted their opposition to the scheme.

RELATIONS with Vietnam suffered a blow when that government suddenly reversed its permission for Australian veterans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Battle of Long Tan on the site of the fighting.

Since it was a victory for the Australian soldiers it’s not surprising that there were local “sensitivities”.  PM Malcolm Turnbull rode to the rescue and our vets were granted access in groups of 100 to lay wreaths. But Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan demanded a “memorandum of understanding” from the Vietnamese government for future commemorations. Perhaps he’s forgotten who won that war.

OUR Olympic athletes continued their so-so performance with former swim champ Ian Thorpe blaming “pressure” on the current crop for their poor medal tally. Perhaps so, but more likely their body clocks were scrambled by the schedule that had them contesting finals when it felt like 3am.

UNLIKE us, the Brits have performed well above expectations in the Olympics and sporting events across the board. Part of their secret is funding from a special lottery. Another might he the quality of their coaches: Chris Spice, performance director of British swimming; Paul Thompson, the chief women’s rowing coach; Eddie Jones, the rugby union coach and Trevor Bayliss, the cricket coach… all Australians.

IN the US, Daffy Donald seems to have abandoned hope of winning the White House and, according to the “New York Times”, could parlay his way into the television network news business. With Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News in disarray following the sacking of CEO Roger Ailes, he might very well have Fox in his sights; and Ailes has just joined his team.

BACK home, the Electoral Commission doled out $62.8 million between the political parties and candidates for the votes they’d garnered in the world’s longest Federal election. The Coalition scored $27.5 million and Labor $23.2 million – more than enough, one might think, to spread their message without corrupting the system with private donations designed to secure special treatment.

ACT Lib Leader Jeremy Hanson’s promise of a new hospital instead of the Gungahlin tram struck a chord as it was revealed that an entire floor in the current one has been unable to accommodate patients for more than two years. It reminded us of that wonderful “Yes Minister” episode featuring the most efficient hospital in England – it had none of those pesky patients at all!

robert@robertmacklin.com

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