Michael Pascoe writes:


The Standard has always played second
fiddle to the South China Morning Post in Hong
Kong’s English language newspaper market,
but that doesn’t mean its story about dubious Australian ethics will go unnoticed
there.

There is a section of the Hong Kong population happy to take
Australian attitudes down a peg or two – and that’s not just some of the expat
Brits. They will therefore appreciate a spray this morning which puts forward the
unfolding AWB scandal and Australia’s
do-nothing attitude on greenhouse as examples of Aussie arrogance and
hypocrisy.

The Standard gives a full run to the
feature by James Rose, Asia-Pacific editor of something called Ethical
Corporation
magazine, headlined “Australia
loses Asian edge.

Rose charges that Australian officials have
been puffed up recently over their role in Asia:

But, as Asia opens its arms to Australia, is the country really bringing what it can
bring to the region? One important area might be leadership in significant
areas of the region’s economic and political development.

The indications are that Australia is failing this test. It is not living up to
its potential in Asia.

One significant area in which Australia might project real leadership and experience
is in anti-corruption measures and techniques. Australia is rightly considered a regional leader in
addressing such problems. But many Asians may note with interest that while
Australians are quite willing to lambaste Asian administrators over their
apparently lax anti-corruption policies, they don’t walk the talk in their own country.

Rose argues that the Government’s response
to the AWB scandal, limiting the terms of inquiry, as much as the kickbacks
themselves say something about the country’s ethics.

On top of that, Rose claims Australia’s
role in the let’s-not-really-do-anything greenhouse summit (my description, not
his) again shows a lack of leadership on an issue of vital importance to Asia.

He might just have a point.