Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made international headlines this week but not for the reasons he’d hoped.
In a telephone interview with America’s prestigious newspaper, The Washington Post, Abbott described the previous Rudd-Gillard governments as “wacko,” and the “most incompetent and untrustworthy government in modern Australian history.”
Concluding his arguments, the Prime Minister informed American readers, “it [the Labor government] was an embarrassing spectacle, and I think Australians are relieved they are gone.”
Now, for those of us here in Australia, that’s no surprise. We’re pretty used to hearing Tony Abbott criticise the Labor Party – it kinda comes with the territory. But Mr Abbott’s comments on domestic political fights, while representing Australia on the world stage, have been broadly criticised.
Many have commented that Prime Minister Abbott himself is guilty of embarrassing Australians in front of the international public. It’s certainly not the ‘done thing’ politically, to bad mouth your opponents back home when you’re representing Australia to the world.
Norman Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute told the Sydney Morning Herald that, “it really does violate a basic principle of diplomacy to drag in your domestic politics when you go abroad.”
“It certainly can’t help in building a bond of any sort with President Obama to rip into a party, government and – at least implicitly – leader, with whom Obama has worked so closely,” stated Mr Ornstein.
Labor Front Bencher Doug Cameron has also criticized Mr Abbott’s comments, arguing that he was “embarrassed to have a prime minister” who would make such comments on the international stage and potentially jeopardize Australia’s “national interests.”
“If you want to use the adjective wacko then you should look close to the prime minister on this one,” he said.
What do you think? Has Prime Minister Abbott violated the unspoken rule of showing restraint when discussing domestic politics in an international setting?