Despite entering a war-zone, Prime Minister Julia Gillard looked happy to be out of Australia. She paid a surprise visit to Australian troops in Afghanistan before scheduled trade meetings in India and, judging by the photos, the reception she received was infinitely more hospitable than last week's parliament.
Tony Abbott has used the break to head to Indonesia, to meet President Yudhoyono and deliver a speech about how the Coalition would approach the Indonesia relationship. He will promise a 'no-surprises principle' in all dealings with Indonesia, an implicit criticism of the Gillard government's unilateral announcements about live-cattle trading and US military base support in Australia. He has promised to discuss border protection too, but it's unclear if or how this applies to his policy of 'turning back the boats', deeply unpopular in Indonesia. He neglected to raise it when he met the President 3 months ago, so whether he does today will be the real test of his new principle.
Nick Feik Politicoz Editor
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Australian Troops To Leave Oruzgan Post By New Year
"Every patrol and forward operating base in Oruzgan will be emptied of Australian soldiers by the new year, according to the Department of Defence, providing yet more evidence that Australia's combat role in Afghanistan is all but over. While Australian special forces – commandos and the SAS – will continue to undertake missions, a Defence spokeswoman confirmed that all Australian regular troops were preparing to vacate the many small bases they have occupied – in many cases built – in recent years."
Tony Abbott To Promise Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: No Surprises On Asylum Policy
"Tony Abbott will tell President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today a Coalition government would operate on a 'no-surprises principle' in all its dealings with Indonesia. Given the unusual opportunity for an opposition leader to meet Dr Yudhoyono, Mr Abbott will pledge that his government would 'workshop' with Jakarta all policy decisions affecting Indonesia before they are announced."
The Prime Minister's Man Problem
"Julia Gillard doesn't have enough men in her life. Male voters, that is. We've heard a lot about Tony Abbott's problem with women voters – the polls document it and MPs report it from their electorates. So what about the Julia story with men?"
Outsiders 'Drown Out Aborigines' On Grog Bans, Says Terry Mills
"Saying the debate was a 'caricature' of the problem, Mr Mills said it was 'naive and disrespectful' to assume that giving communities more say over grog rules would necessarily lead to open slather for drunks... His views were echoed by NT Minister for Regional Development and Indigenous Advancement Alison Anderson, who attacked Melbourne University professor Marcia Langton. "We don't want her speaking for us," Ms Anderson said."
Come Election Time, The Real World Will Have Moved On
"The local message in the Jones matter, and the global reach of Gillard's speech, are the same: the community has been quietly forming judgments of its own. Parliament and the press register the activity, but then promptly avoid the implications. The name-calling - your side is more sexist than mine; my echo chamber is more representative than yours - are two sides of the same dud coin. The community doesn't want another version of the character debate from a parliament so obviously lacking in class."