The Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage of the Indonesia spying affair managed to run the gamut from laughable to naive without getting near accurate

Ah, the Sydney Morning Herald. There’s nothing quite like reading an overgrown and angry student newspaper, written with the same worldliness only a late teen can muster. The Herald is on a crusade right now, and the only appropriate adjective for this improvised windmill tilt is “Quixotic”.

If you are interested in insightful analysis, objective news or simply a modest tally of bullshit at best, you would do well to avoid the Herald at all costs.

The Herald’s main objective, fixated on its demands with myopic determination, is to undermine or harm the government of the day. They work very hard at making sure the least experienced or most idealistic commentators get time to write gibberish on the topic – witness Jacqueline Maley’s callous theft of time and bandwidth here: Maley is apparently the Parliamentary sketch writer for the Herald, so I’d call into question what deep reserves of experience in diplomacy are being drawn upon here?

Similarly we have Philip Dorling saying Abbott must apologise to Indonesia. He stops short of saying he should apologise for a Rudd/Smith decision taken because Rudd and Smith fucked up the bilateral relationship in the first place. Dorling, it should be noted, was an adviser to ALP MP Laurie Brereton, and in 2000 was accused by the Australian Federal Police of leaking information about Australian plans regarding East Timor to Indonesia. No charges were laid. It would be nice to note your partisan and other loyalties, Mr Dorling?

It should be noted, since none of this hacks will do so, that the relationship goes through these brinksmanship dances every so often. In 2006 the Indonesian ambassador was recalled over Australia’s decision to grant asylum to 42 West Papuans. Yet, the Bali Process – which, in addition to being a crucial diplomatic victory for the Howard government, was instrumental in making Indonesia a partner of Australia and in making people smuggling a regional issue – continued in 2006 and 2007 unaffected (see also:

So, what am I getting at? Despite the “experts” at the Herald bleeding their idiotic commentary all over the place and generally making bigger assholes of themselves, there’s a pattern to this. A dance with choreographed moves. And so long as the relationship continues at the operational level, out of the public eye (i.e. Ambassador Moriaty can be recalled too, or expelled but Imigrasi and DIAC continue to cooperate on people smuggling) then it’s just politics. Posturing. It’s only when the practical collaboration stops that you have an issue. Calling on the PM to apologise for his predecessor’s actions (which I should note, I don’t disagree with) or trying to damn his refusal to apology belies an infantile understanding of diplomacy and history. This is nothing new, so making it more than it is serves no purpose.

A real journalist would know this. 

Hence the quality of the Herald’s coverage.


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