|Julia Gillard at Bali bombing memorial ceremony.|
From listening to Julia Gillard's words presented at the memorial ceremony it is clear that she has learned nothing about the reasons for the bombings in those ten years. And John Howard, who was also at the ceremony, evinced as little comprehension. So you just wonder what Gillard and Howard think Indonesian people think about either the bombings or Australia's reaction to them. My feeling is that Indonesians think that Australians are totally out of touch with the realities that exist on the ground in Indonesia, since there was nothing in what Gillard or Howard said that demonstrated the slightest appreciation for the cultural, political or religious realities that obtain in Indonesia. Instead of reaching out to Indonesians, these two Australian politicians merely played to a domestic audience, and in the most crude fashion. I guess it's hard to blame them. After all, Indonesians don't vote in Australian federal elections. But if Australia wants to begin to more fully integrate with Asia our politicians must start thinking in a less parochial, and in a more inclusive, fashion.
After all, people like Gillard have a responsibility to ordinary Australians to reflect their international aspirations. Given this reality, I have to say that Gillard utterly failed me as an ordinary Australian who cares about how my country is viewed in Asia. Gillard has elsewhere shown that the way Australia is seen in Asia is important to her, as the upcoming Henry white paper on Australia's role in Asia this century demonstrates. But Australia has to use more imagination in its interactions with Asian neighbours so that we are able to faithfully represent the values that make Australia truly unique. There are some things about Australia that Asian countries can profitably study, and even emulate, but narrow-minded, parochial vote-seeking is not one of these things.