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Gillard's foreign affairs bungles continue

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The Hon Julie Bishop, MP Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Deputy Leader of the Opposition Member for Curtin

Gillard’s foreign affairs bungles continue

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard continues to compromise Australia’s key international relationships, with Malaysia the latest country to be subject to bungling by this Labor government.

After the debacle of her “East Timor solution”, where she failed to properly consult with the government of East Timor, it appears the Prime Minister has learned little in her attempts to engage in diplomatic negotiations with our neighbours.

When Julia Gillard announced her new “deal” with the Prime Minister of Malaysia on 7 May she claimed, "The truth is if you spend your money, you get on a boat, you risk your life, you don't get to stay, you go to Malaysia, and you go to the back of the queue.”

It is now obvious the “Malaysian solution” was announced before any agreement had been finalised.

There are reports overnight that Malaysia's Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has said that asylum seekers who have arrived by boat since Julia Gillard’s announcement will not be processed in Malaysia because no deal has been finalised.

The hapless Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has risked causing offence to the Malaysian Government by contradicting the Home Minister and insinuating that the yet to be finalised agreement will allow for the transfer of the recent boat arrivals.

The haste with which Ms Gillard announces publicly her discussions with regional leaders continues to cause embarrassment.

The Prime Minister should refrain from international negotiations until she understands the norms that govern relations with other countries including respecting the sovereign rights of the nations of our region.