a stupid clown at the kings court...
What has the world learned about Australia from Abbott’s keynote address to the World Economic Forum? Alan Austin reports from France.
AUSTRALIANS WATCHED TONY ABBOTT fly off to Switzerland this week to deliver an important speech to world leaders with muted anticipation. Commentary in advance ranged between frank pessimism and outright dismay.
It is clear now the PM failed to live up to those expectations.
Fortunately, the damage done to Australia’s reputation was limited by most media declining even to mention the Abbott embarrassment.
The New York Times has extensive coverage of the World Economic Forum(WEF) in Davos, with a dedicated web page and many feature articles exploring the key themes and major players. None mentions Abbott — who, by virtue of the high regard for his predecessor, finds himself the accidental president of the G20for 2014.
Le Télégramme, L'Humanité and Le Parisien in France published stories from the WEF but completely ignored Abbott. L’Agence France-Presse filed multiple reports profiling the contributors, but excluding Abbott.
Le Figaro focussed on the speech by International Monetary Fund directorChristine Lagarde who addressed constructively the new dangers – nouveaux risques – threatening global recovery. These are, she said, deflation in Europe, tapering of US monetary policy and distortions in global financial markets.
With an embarrassed cough, Le Figaro noted Abbott’s address as a footnote, quoting him as calling for more free trade, an idea that was a long way from the agenda – très loin de la thématique – of earlier gatherings.
Les Echos did mention the keynote speech, reporting that the thrust of Australia’s G20 presidency will be free trade. It noted it was odd Abbott didn’t mention the World Trade Organisation.
The Guardian in Britain headlined its piece “Does Tony Abbott always make the same speech?” and reported that it “struck a familiar tone and was criticised for being inappropriately partisan.”
Indeed, Abbott’s reputation as a buffoon appears to have preceded him to Davos.