It is embarrassing to Australia that the Italian Textile Association has taken the extraordinary step of formally expressing its disappointment about the recent visit to Biella, Italy, of three directors from the Australian Wool Innovation Board.
The association raised a number of concerns. They felt the informal delegation didn't express official AWI thinking; they were embarrassed and disappointed at seeing people involved in clear conflicts of interest; they were surprised and upset by the lack of knowledge and extreme insensitivity to the mulesing issue, and the lack of communication about an upcoming advertising campaign.
The dickhead and nose candy campaigns are two very different campaigns, with different potential outcomes.
American journalist Allan Nairn’s game of cat and mouse with the Indonesian military is a brave attempt to show that it continues to represent the greatest challenge to Indonesia’s process of reform and democratisation. It is also one that could well see him spending time – potentially up to six years - in an Indonesian prison.
Nairn recently detailed how the Indonesian military’s special forces, Kopassus, continued to be involved in illegal activities, including murdering civilians. His report comes at a time when the US is considering renewing direct support for Kopassus, after having banned working with it for a decade and a half.
Would you say your child’s education is important to you?
It seems like a harmless enough enquiry and, when asked, what parent would not instantly agree that their child’s education is a priority?
But when it comes to the sale of educational software, obvious questions like this can be significantly more dangerous than you’d think – corralling parents into a corner that is difficult to escape from. They are the foundation of an insidious in-home sales strategy one former sales person described as “a sheep paddock, where you would go around shutting the gates as you went through your routine. So that at the end, the only gate left open was to buy”.
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono address to the Australian parliament yesterday marked a very real change in Australia-Indonesia bilateral relations. Much of the history of that relationship has been characterised by either problems or diplomatic distance, which President Yudhoyono frankly acknowledged. But his speech to the parliament illustrated how close the two countries have now become.
The main change in the relationship has been as a result of Indonesia’s increasingly deep democratisation. No matter how close Australian political leaders might have wanted to be in the past, the fundamental contradictions between Indonesia’s then closed political system and Australia’s more open system meant that underlying problems would always surface.
The visit to Australia by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono marks an important step in the maturing of Australia-Indonesia bilateral relations. Not since the ebullient Aburrahman Wahid have we had an Indonesian president visit twice (SBY was here in 2005) but, more importantly, Yudhoyono is the most substantial political leader Indonesia has had since the departure of the authoritarian President Suharto.
That Yudhoyono has been invited to address the Australian parliament – and has accepted - is a further clear sign of the strength of the bilateral relationship. As a marker of Australia’s international diplomacy, the relationship with Indonesia has always been the biggest and most difficult test. As Indonesia democratises, both countries seem to be getting it right.
Julia Gillard will today announce the launch of the My University Website.
A couple of weeks ago, I read in a magazine that successful Mad Men actress January Jones was told by her ex-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher (now married to the impossibly youthful Demi Moore – do try to keep up) that she would never make it as an actress. Last week, I heard on the radio that mega successful entertainer Lady Gaga was told by an ex-boyfriend that she would never make it as a singer or win a Grammy (she has won 2 Grammys so far).
This week, a young academic told me that her line manager had told her she would never get promoted. (The young woman is extraordinarily determined, feisty, intelligent and, as her manager will see, she will catch him up and pass him before he knows what hit him.)
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd’s, confirmation that the Federal Government blocked three shipments of cargo to Iran has raised questions about what the ships contained. So far, Mr Rudd has refused to comment on the details of the intervention.
Defence Minister John Faulkner stopped the shipments under the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, prompting speculation that the contents could be used in Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran has been accused by western countries of developing or wanting to develop nuclear weapons. However, Iran says that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. The problem is, even if Iran’s claim is true, a nuclear energy based on high grade uranium can be easily converted into a weapons-grade uranium and hence a nuclear weapons program.
Speaking to the National Press Club on Tuesday, Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce’s comments on Australia’s international aid program are startling. They not only reflect, as shadow finance spokesman, ignorance of the Opposition’s own policy and Australia’s international aid program, but imply a knuckle-dragging ‘survival of the fittest’ approach to international policy. Without any prompting, Senator Joyce appears to have wandered off into policy whacko-land.
Even among the developed world’s most conservative leaders, including those whose countries carry external debt, over the past 60 years none have suggested that aid to poor countries is an either/or proposition. Leaving aside the factual clangers in his remarks for which other politicians would be castigated, Senator Joyce’s comments on Australia’s international aid raise serious questions about his fitness for the front bench.