Amidst all the April Fool jokes on the news websites today (my favourite, The Guardian announcing it is stopping printing newspapers and going to a Twitter only service) there was one extremely funny release from the Liberal Party. Alas, despite the humour in abundance, they were actually serious.
It came from the office of Julie Bishop (who a couple weeks ago was advertising for a Foreign Affairs advisor); and it dealt with the China issue that has been given the work around the last week or so. Was she continuing the Liberal strategy of going in boots first about Rudd being too close to China? Err not really:
Labor trashes Australia in key Asian capitals
Yep, it's Labor that has been the bad guys. Why? Well read on:
Senior Labor ministers have damaged Australia’s international standing in key Asian capitals, by making ridiculous and offensive claims of racist sentiments in Australia.
It is appalling that two leading voices for the Rudd Government [Simon Crean and Wayne Swan] would during visits to these two key neighbours revive the obnoxious spectre of anti-Asian xenophobia in Australia merely to support a cynical political strategy hatched by Labor spin doctors back at home.
Through this course of action, Mr Swan and Mr Crean have hijacked Australia’s public diplomacy in order to play partisan politics. In their efforts to silence legitimate Opposition criticism of the lack of balance and transparency in the Rudd Government’s foreign policy approach, they have wilfully trashed Australia’s reputation as an open and tolerant society.
Yes you got that right it's all the ALP's fault for claiming that we are xenophobic when we say xenophobic things.
And the Liberal Patry's "legitimate Opposition criticism"? I guess she means things like Joe Hockey on Sunrise?
JOE HOCKEY: I'm concerned about, you know, the pattern of behaviour at the moment. Kevin Rudd received free trips when he was in Opposition, from Chinese interests. Wayne Swan the Treasurer received these trips; Tony Burke the Agriculture Minister. Now we hear about the Defence Minister receiving free trips from China. At the same time, we learn today that the Australian Government is borrowing around $500-million a week from the Chinese Government. What's going on?
Or perhaps it's Julie Bishop herself going on Sky News and saying Rudd is the "Manchurian Candidate"? I guess that now counts as legitimate foreign affairs policy?
Let's see where the Chinese media thinks the blame falls:
Earlier this month, Australia's opposition party leader Malcolm Turnbull accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - a Chinese-speaking former diplomat and avowed Sinophile - of acting like a "roving ambassador" for Beijing.
Turnbull said he made the accusation because Rudd met with senior Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Li Changchun without notifying media, and he supports expanding China's say in the International Monetary Fund.
Australia's opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey has relayed Turnbull's attacks on more ministers - Treasurer Wayne Swan and Agricultural Minister Tony Burke - for taking "free trips" to China.
During an interview with Sky News, Australian Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has called the opposition's actions an "absurd and a blatant attempt to stir up yellow-peril (a racist term used in the early 1900s) sentiments" to prey on latent antagonism toward China.
The argument among Australian politicians became more heated yesterday, as the opposition rejected accusations of "playing the race card".
Sounds to me they are most annoyed by what Turnbull and Hockey have said, not what the ALP has said about the Liberals.
Obviously in Bishop-world everything is a bit backwards - the offense is to point out that something is offensive not to actually be offensive.
The fact is the Liberal's tactic got called for what it was, and it's blown up in their faces (and also distracted from their attack on Fitzgibbon).
I didn't think Bishop could do worse in foreign affairs than she did in the shadow treasury spot; but she can. For the ALP she is the gift that just keeps on giving.