Tony does the easy bit. It’s stopping the boats that is important, not using clever words on an Indonesian visit. The Prime Minister’s great diplomatic escape from Jakarta is a long way from being the political triumph some are portraying it as.

The dangerous part of living up to his pre-election policies is yet to come. The Tony Abbott promise to turn back the boats has the potential to become every bit as damaging to him as his predecessor’s “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”.

The problem with cattle and Indonesia. The memories of politicians can be short. Those currently pandering to the wishes of live cattle exporters forget the reason for Labor’s ban on shipments to Indonesia. It was just a little matter of cruelty to animals that sickened most Australians when television exposed them to it. The backlash against the trade was considerable and the Labor government acted as it did in response to that broad public pressure. Animal welfare remains a potent political problem and being seen as pandering to Indonesia by ignoring it just increases the political risks.

Then there’s the Barnaby problem. Abbott might have given his support to Indonesian ownership of Northern Territory land but his Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce seems to have different views.

Paul Howes is a dangerous man. Follow the advice of AWU Secretary Paul Howes on removing conscience votes on same-sex marriage and the Labor Party risks another split. I think Howes is as dangerous a motor mouth as Labor has ever had.

Been there, seen that. US government services halted and US share prices go up. The stock market has seen political idiocy from Republicans before. It might be a few years since the last one but there have been plenty of congressional standoffs before, as this graphic shows:

Eventually the American politicians stopped playing games and governing returned and there is no reason that I know of to think that the lunacy of the Republican Tea Party crowd of today will have any more influence on sensible Republican Congressmen than Newt Gingrich did last time.

News and views noted along the way.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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