In Australia, a 'mate' is more than just a friend and is a term that implies a sense of shared experience, mutual respect and unconditional assistance. Wikipedia
A gushing sycophantic Australian press pack has hailed Malcolm Turnbull’s visit with Donald Trump as a “great diplomatic success.”
I’m not quite sure how they arrive at that conclusion.
Yes, Trump rolled out the red carpet and treated Malcolm like a good little lackey, and Malcolm will undoubtedly return with some crumbs and even some sort of hope that he might yet convince Trump to join the TPP(If you can call that an achievement). But, in all honesty, these “visits” are not diplomatic, they are exercises in pledging loyalty and fealty to the great power that the United States is.
When Malcolm left Trump’s presence, you can bet that Trump’s mind would have switched to other more pressing matters and the box marked obligatory glad handing of vassal was ticked off.
Australia is simply not a problem to the United States. We are always willing and ever obliging. We learned our lesson well in 1975 and have not dared to creep out of our box since. Successive Australian “leaders” essentially make the same platitudes. Some are overly nauseating (Julia Gillard) some appear a little uncomfortable (Abbott) but they all utter inanities about mateship and alliances.
The United States is not Australia’s mate. It is its owner. The sooner an Australian politician has the guts to stand up and say that the better.
And while we’re on the subject of guts, one wonders whether Mr Turnbull had sufficient intestinal fortitude to at least raise the subject of Julian Assange.
Turnbull and his foreign minister, Julie Bishop can hide behind all the weasel words that they want and pretend that Assange’s matters are between Assange and the UK but blind Freddy can see that Assange remains holed up in a cupboard in the Ecuadorian embassy because he has very real fears of being extradited to a US facility somewhere and charged with crimes that essentially amount to publishing the truth. While Assange remains where he is, the Australian government stands condemned as weak, subservient and powerless.
Donald Trump has on occasion quite rightly expressed admiration for WikiLeaks. He is perhaps the only US politician who could perhaps be persuaded to call the “security” attack dogs off. Surely, a politician with an ounce of that good old gutsy Australian mateship blood in him would at least explore the options with Trump for some sort of way forward for Julian Assange.
Sadly it appears not. Malcolm Turnbull would not recognise the true meaning of mateship if it jumped up behind him and bit him on the bum. He is what Australians rightfully deride as a fair weather friend. Someone who will slap your back while you’re on the way up, but disappear like a rat up a drainpipe at the first sign of struggle.
Turnbull, Bishop and the rest of this sorry excuse for an Australian government are allowed to let Assange rot by a wilfully ignorant and compliant media. Not one journalist even thought to ask Turnbull about Assange’s status and most media outlets will preface any story about WikiLeaks with an introduction of CIA smear and innuendo.
Australia’s government will only ever be as good as its opposition and the first line of opposition should always be the press. When it comes to matters involving Australia’s relationship with the United States, the press consistently reverts to the role of stenographer, simply repeating accepted talking points. It is time that the Australian people demanded more from the press and its government.
Julian Assange remains an Australian citizen. He deserves to be treated like one. Until the Australian government is held to account and forced to act like a mate for Mr Assange, any talk about being "mates " with the USA is just talk.
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