Scott Morrison has told dinner-buddy Donald Trump that Australia will investigate itself to help unravel the origins of the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference. In doing so, the PM has ensured that former high commissioner and Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer will forever be remembered for his role in the scandal.
The conservative, Queen-loving, Liberal politician has been demonised by some in the US as a left-wing minion for his role in kickstarting the inquiry. Downer, while working as high commissioner to the United Kingdom, met for drinks in London with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who reportedly said Russia had damaging material on Hillary Clinton. Downer did what diplomats are supposed to do and forwarded the information on to American and Australian intelligence agencies.
Papadopoulos has launched social media tirades against Downer, calling him a “wannabe spy“. America’s far-right media joined in, trying to discredit Downer as a leftie on the basis that he donated to the Clinton Foundation’s AIDS fund.
But our American allies are confused; it just doesn’t seem likely that Downer would deliberately orchestrate the downfall of a foreign president, less-so one whose policies largely align with his own conservative views. This is the man who, while contending to be prime minister and talking about the Liberal slogan ”The Things That Matter”, joked that his party’s domestic violence policy would be labelled ”Things That Batter”. This is the man so anti-republic that he was appointed as chair of the Royal Over-Seas League, a London-based private membership organisation full of wealthy individuals who love the Queen and Commonwealth just a little bit too much. This is a man who is really, really bad at Twitter.
And yet his legacy, nonsensically, will be that of a small-l liberal stooge. That’s got to sting.