G20 [lit]: Gasbags; Gabfest; Kite-flying & Posturing
And so, the celebrated, if arbitrarily named G20 global gabfest has come to its predictable and inconclusive end.
What is its legacy – aside from millions of international taxpayers’ dollars deficit? Two years in the planning and preparation – well-fatted overtime wallets of policemen, servicemen and security contractors; huge profits for up market hotels and general inconvenience for Brisbanites, many of whom ‘escaped to the country’ for the weekend.
Well, let’s start with the dubious star of the show – the egregious, lame duck and much promise “Orator” Obama. Fresh from his ‘top secret discussions’ with the Chinese he wanted to talk climate change. Irrespective that the net conclusion of the talks was that the US and China agreed to agree that the subject was worth further discussion and that in a couple of decades time they should do something about it. Pro tem China is uncommitted to do anything except build more coal fired power stations for some sixteen years.
But the small print of this spurious nonsense was ignored by the Greens and their assorted cast of cretins and the discussions hailed as a major breakthrough in international climate change, Australia is now being cast as the villain of the peace. Preacher Obama played it for all it was worth. In doing so, he took centre stage before a bunch of starry eyed students and supporters at, I am embarrassed to say, my old alma mater the University of Queensland. Starting with two very corny jokes, he took the opportunity to criticise his host, Prime Minister Abbott, and this country, one of America’s oldest and most loyal allies, on its stand on climate change. Good one Mr President. Nothing like giving an old friend a quick kick in the goolies. Perhaps his stupidity has something to do with the complete failure of his domestic policies, his shambolic Middle East policy, his palpable anti-Semitism and the fact that he is being outplayed in every manoeuvre by the irascible and wily Putin – this weak-kneed and feeble-minded apology for a man might as well take a couple of cheap shots at Australia in front of a receptive and naïve crowd of freshmen.
Turning then to the host of the Brouhaha, Prime Minister Abbott, who positively lapped up the occasion. Sprouting a mix of meaningless platitudes about the “Brisbane Plan”, he and Treasurer Joe Hockey got to mix with such luminaries as Ms Intelligence personified, Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the IMF – which, after having to deal with lightweights such as the execrable Shorten, must have tested their social skills and intellect.
Angela Merkel made an impromptu stopover into a beer hall whose embarrassed proprietor admitted that of the hundred plus beers he stocked not one of them was German – and so it went. Lots of flesh pressing, cavalcades of cars criss-crossing Brisbane. Southbank high rise neo-slum dwellers hanging out their smalls on their miniscule balconies were lucky not to get caught in the cross-hairs of the legions of snipers perched on roof tops across the city.
Some lucky leaders and their wives and husbands had to suffer the indignity of being photographed cuddling koala bears and being charmed by overfed pythons. One of the memorable photos was one of the Great Vlad with a Koala – he looked as though he didn’t know whether he should wring its neck or eat it.
And therein lies another matter. The Australian press made much of how he was snubbed by all and sundry at the conference. If that was the case it constitutes a disgrace on behalf of Abbott. Putin may not be a likeable man but whether we or anybody else likes it or not, he is the legitimate leader of one of the nations invited to the conference. Albeit one of the most powerful nations on earth. Cold shoulder is hardly the most efficacious way to win friends and influence people. Moreover, it is not the Australian way to invite someone over for a barbie and then shit on them.
The excitement of the occasion got too much for some of the visitors. The leaders of Mexico and Indonesia left as early as Saturday night and, so enamoured with Koalas and cold shoulder was he, Vlad missed Sunday’s lunch and the final session. A touch of the raw prawn perhaps?
And so what are we left with? Lots of promises on all sorts of things. A global infrastructure hub in Australia; a commitment to encourage more women in the international workforce; new initiatives on Ebola and so forth. And of course, lots of international exposure for Brisbane – ironically, one the papers to which I subscribe, The Asahi Shimbun, didn’t even mention that Prime Minister Abe had gone to Brisbane. The Japanese and Chinese have more pressing strategic matters to concern them.
So what did it all achieve? A magnificent live training exercise for our security forces. Some very grateful high-end hotels. A couple of day’s spin-offs for eateries in and around Brisbane central. The limelight for Big Ears and Noddy as they made the most of every photo opportunity, and a whacking great tax bill for the Australian taxpayer.
But credit where credit is due. Everything passed without a hitch. No one was killed. The crowds kept peaceable and everyone went home safe and – some even happy. Well done to all those concerned.
Mordechai has however a suggestion for future such gabfests. Why not institutionalise and formalise the ever boring Geneva as the natural home of all gabfests? Rather like returning the Olympics permanently to Greece. The good people of Geneva can be relied upon to exercise their national trait of precision and boredom – the only shirt fronts will be inside dinner jackets and there will be nary a furry animal to be seen.