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Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are dead, shot for a crime that no doubt deserved a gaol term but not the death penalty.

The contradiction between Indonesia’s position relating to the death penalty imposed on its own citizens sentenced to death off shore and its domestic attitude to imposing the death penalty have been widely canvassed and discussed. There is no logic in the Indonesian position. The only conclusion that can be drawn in view of their vigorous lobbying for reprieve of the death sentence in countries such as Saudi Arabia is that Chan and Sukumaran are hostages to the political fortunes of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Indonesian law has little to do with it. The former President, Sisilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was prepared to accept this aspect of Indonesian law in the breach, Joko Widodo could have granted a pardon. There are some who say Australia should accept that the imposition of the death penalty on the two Australian’s is a matter of Indonesian law within the framework of Indonesian sovereignty. That is a bit rich when Australia opposes the death penalty. It avoids addressing the issue of a fundamental injustice all in the name of preserving Australian/Indonesian relations. Avoiding issues will not strengthen the relationship amply demonstrated by the East Timor fiasco.

The Australian government and its advisers are hoping to minimise the impact of this prolonged process, in itself cruel and inhumane, on the bilateral relationship. Good luck to them. There will be considerable public anger from both the left and the right, the former driven by concern for human rights and natural justice, the latter by racism, jingoism and twisted nationalism. Policy may well be driven by popular reaction.

These deaths could become a touch stone every time there is a problem in the relationship. This state sanctioned murder could fester away. It could become the regional version of the execution of Breaker Morant. It seems likely that Widodo, fixed as he is on strengthening his weak political base, has been prepared to ignore international reaction or more likely hasn’t a handle on international relations. That being the case he should be given a lesson. Any reaction by the international community, including Australia, will be salutary but not terminal in terms of the relationship. On past experience recovery time will be measured in months not years. In any case even when there have been prolonged lows in the past, business has gone on, if nothing else Indonesians are pragmatic.

The official reaction of recalling the Australian Ambassador demonstrates that we do not like having our representations ignored, that we are concerned that due process under Indonesian law did not occur and that serious allegations of corruption were not investigated before the death penalty was carried out. The recall indicates that Australia is not a walk over, which of course it is.

We do not occupy the moral high ground; we have broken Indonesian law and transgressed their sovereignty with respect to turning back the boats of asylum seekers. We have failed to engage over processing the increasing number of asylum seekers in Indonesian. The Indonesian elite have little respect for our current crop of federal politicians. Had Abbott a skerrick of nous and style he might have been able to negotiate with Joko Widido over Chan and Sukumaran, but he has long been written off internationally, regionally and domestically.

The deaths of course were preventable. The AFP should never have shopped them and having done so they should have done everything in their power to overturn this outcome. But they didn’t because their writ is to deal with the corrupt Indonesian police, naval and army personnel to prevent boats coming to Australia. They are embedded; they are almost part of the system. We need to know why the AFP shopped the nine. The involvement of the AFP in these executions needs investigation.

Chan and Sukumaran are victims of an incomplete and flawed relationship that Australia maintains with Indonesia. If Indonesia had been colonised by the British and spoke English and played cricket the relationship would be substantially different. It wasn’t and it requires work, commitment and understanding. It requires Bahasa to be taught in our schools, it requires insular and inward looking Australian politicians to travel within the archipelago as frequently as they do to Europe. With the exception of Julie Bishop and Tanya Plibersek, the current political class does not do regional diplomacy very well.

If Australia wishes a permanent reminder of the injustice of what has taken place and also a beacon to the future it should establish a scholarship scheme in the name of Chan and Sukumaran for young people of both countries to travel and study in either country.

Brace yourselves – things are not going to get better, at least not for some time.

It is to do with our collective moral fibre or lack of it as entrusted in our politicians, public servants, captains of business and industry, senior military officers and the media, otherwise known as the leadership elite and ourselves; the reason is selfishness, greed and immaturity.

A leadership that deliberately traumatises asylum seekers from the Middle East and Asia as part of a policy of deterrence can hardly be surprised when young men, with the least stake in racist Australia, head overseas to fight for crusading Islam.

Australians have turned away from mainstream politics; most are fed up with Tony Abbott. They see him as a clown and intellectual lightweight; they are waiting for Turnbull to take over. Few, with the exception of hardcore Labor supporters, see much prospect of basic and outstanding issues being addressed by Bill Shorten.

Until the Liberal Party can find the courage to replace Abbott the country is adrift with the very real prospect of them handing power to Shorten who hasn’t a clue what to do with it. Abbott has managed, in a short space of time, to alienate many who otherwise might have been expected to vote for the Coalition. The wealthy, self-interested, 5% of the population do not have the voting power to change the result of an election; these are the people Abbott seeks to please.

The last budget, roundly condemned and rejected by all but the top end of town, was a poorly disguised attack on the Labor Party, those perceived to support it as well as the Unions. Abbott’s agenda has been to smash and destroy – the only course of action he is programmed to undertake. His scorched earth policy failed, he is left with nothing and so are we. Talk of Joe Hockey introducing a ‘moderate’ budget is an admission of defeat of the ideological attack on people viewed as ‘not one of us’.

The collapse of Australia’s mining exports will see the economy decline in the absence of other revenue streams developing to overcome the shortfall. Australia is moving into recession and there is nothing the Reserve Bank can do about it, armed with only the crude instrument of adjustments to the interest rate. Insufficient provision was made for the future by the populist Howard government.

The same lack of forethought and planning has given rise to the current crisis in health care and education. Enter any Medicare office in a major centre and witness the confusion and anger. Talk to the staff to see how services and payments are being reduced. It is nonsense to argue a case that costs are spiralling out of control compared to ten years ago. Together the costs have risen along with the population and proportion of aged people needing care.

The problem lies with a revenue base that is not keeping pace with the needs of the community. Cutting spending on health, education and research will not solve budgetary problems; it will only create further difficulties. Paranoid politicians and public servants should/must consider cutting defence funding, ideologically driven and exorbitant expenditure of keeping Australia free of the contagion of refugees arriving by boat and the continued subsidy of wealthy elitist private schools.

It also needs to consider the financial and community cost of the continued unquestioning alliance with the United States. The financial cost of the failed ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan is considerable. The money wasted should have been deployed on social and physical infrastructure, a better form of defence than expended rounds of ammunition. The physical and emotional cost witnessed in high levels of PTSB is a further financial and human cost to be borne for many years. The same outcome has arisen in the Navy because of the government’s ‘policy’ of turning back boats.

Do we want Darwin to become an American Base? Are we happy to be hostages of fortune, dragged into another misadventure, by a decaying, racist, frustrated and angry super power due to our increasing entanglement in the extended US instruments of war on our territory? We don’t want refugees violating our sovereignty, but the US government does and provides legal cover for its rapacious multi-national companies to avoid Australian tax. Do we care? Do we wish to develop independent relations within the region or is it all too hard to figure out how we balance the competing demands of the US, China, India and Indonesia?

The national debate about the use and conservation of water and best use of productive land is absent. The National Party should be leading this debate but it is devoid and bereft of ideas and policies to the point that it has welcomed coal seam gas mining. Its interest has focused on the chauvinistic concern of seeking a register of foreign ownership, which is irrelevant when laws do not exist to govern and protect the sustainable land use.

There is no leadership toward empowering Aboriginal people. There has been no examination of the decline in social infrastructure which sees even the smallest country town affected by the ravages of ice, leading to dislocation and brutal acts of violence. We and our leadership seem incapable of coming to grips with child abuse, whether by institutions, government or dysfunctional families and predatory individuals.

Significant church leaders such as Cardinal Pell have failed to provide ethical or moral leadership. As have religious leaders from other faiths, who seem more concerned with protecting their flock than with helping to support what should be our secular democracy.

Climate change denial by the Abbott government will see Australia become part of the problem rather than helping find solutions. It has resulted in there being no national strategy for the handling and deployment of human and materiel resources for significant national and regional disasters as a result of climate change.

The media, now embedded in the political elite, has failed to call the political process and leadership for what it is. Howard was not called for being a racist, nor for being fast and loose with the truth, Rudd was not castigated for his arrogance and selfishness, Gillard as a hypocrite for selling out on what she maintained were her Left credentials and Abbott for being a bully, a racist, a misogynist and a dissembling , erratic, airhead.

Myths have been woven to hide our weaknesses, to boost our low self esteem, to overcome our national inferiority complex. These myths have become self defeating in light of the need to honestly face our shortcomings and renew ourselves and our leadership. The myth of the Anzac is just that and not something to build or sustain a nation on. Are we really a nation of volunteers? I doubt it. We have become a nation of individuals with a sense of entitlement leading to ever increasing levels of corruption. We are prone to narcism, jingoism and chauvinism.

It would seem that things will get worse before they get better; if so are we in for a growth in radical movements and expression of political opinion on both the left and the right?