Criticism of Albanese’s foreign trips is nonsense, but Prime Minister finds it’s not a vacation at home either | Hugh Riminton

There’s a reason Peter Dutton didn’t lead the condemnation of Anthony Albanese’s international travels. Dutton is on vacation.

As the prime minister pointed out of himself, he hasn’t had a day off “for a very long time”.

In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, National Party Leader David Littleproud and Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor threw the swings, with an attack that lacked both logic and conviction against Albanians for traveling to the abroad, including in Ukraine.

On Sky News, Taylor simultaneously accepted that the Prime Minister’s visit to Ukraine was “necessary” while condemning his radio silence.

“It’s important for voters to know that people are at work and we haven’t heard from Mr. Albanese for 48 hours,” he said.

On the Today show, Littleproud wanted revenge for Scott Morrison’s treatment of his Hawaiian vacation during the height of the Black Summer bushfires.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” he grayed. “They were quick enough to throw a few grenades at Scott Morrison.”

A dictionary-worthy definition of “false equivalence.”

All he really achieved was an opportunity for newscasts to recycle footage of the former prime minister in his boardies during the holiday which his media office denied was happening at the height of a conflagration which most certainly was.

“I think that says more about the people who criticized than about me,” Albanese told a news conference flanked by NSW and Commonwealth emergency services ministers and the NSW premier. , Dom Perrottet.

Entering a war zone requires tight operational security, especially for a high-value target like a visiting prime minister. As Albanese pointed out, his moves could have potentially led the Russian secret service to their greatest prize, Volodymyr Zelenskiy himself.

“We had no electronic equipment. No phone, no internet, no communication with the outside. It was about protecting ourselves, but also about protecting President Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian people we met.

“Comparing that with a vacation is…I find that beyond contempt, frankly.”

His first three phone calls back across the border were to acting Prime Minister Richard Marles; Emergency Services Minister Murray Watt; and the NSW Premier.

“As soon as he could, he picked up the phone to call me,” Perrottet confirmed. The prime minister was thrilled that the coordination and support from the new federal government has been “excellent…exactly how it should work”.

Albanese will fly overseas again next week. Events under Scott Morrison’s watch left him with no choice but to attend the Pacific Islands Forum. Australia must reset its relationship with the Pacific in the face of Chinese adventurism. Adopting a less contemptuous climate change policy toward fragile island nations is a start, but showing up in person is also important, as Albanese acknowledges.

“Australia dropped the ball with the Pacific engagement,” he says. It’s not a mistake he intends to repeat.

Floods, however, are only the most obvious and heartbreaking problems brewing at home.

Rising interest rates, ever soaring inflation, restless unions, a new parliament to negotiate and a budget to frame by October are just the beginning.

The problems raised by the rain run deep. At one point this week, 85,000 people – the equivalent of Launceston or Mackay – were either forced from their homes or were preparing to flee. It was the fourth such flooding in 18 months, the third this year, adding to the double whammy flooding of rivers in northern New South Wales and flood devastation in Greater Brisbane.

At Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands food distribution center in Windsor, Jodie Saint, dressed in a gray sloppy-joe, spoke softly as two of Australia’s most powerful men leaned in to catch her words.

“I came out with my bag over my head,” she said, raising her arms to show the height of the water. “We only have the clothes on our backs. It doesn’t get any easier.

The Prime Minister and the Prime Minister listened solemnly.

“There is no insurance. The majority of people here – myself included – are uninsured,” adds Jodie’s neighbor Scott Hinks. “I want to thank you for coming here and visiting us, but [without something changing] you’re going to come back in the next three or four months.

The center offers food baskets, a sausage sizzle and a 24-hour kettle for new homeless people. CEO Linda Strickland says people are ‘traumatized’. Many who come for food stay for a hug and a shout.

“They come in and then all of a sudden…they fall apart,” she said.

The victims are nervous and tired. Many want the massive Warragamba Dam to be built higher. They want clearer information about services and grants and they want to believe that the grant money will come. Last time, says Scott Hinks, it never was.

When Albanese went to meet SES volunteers, Jodie Saint felt deflated.

“I mean, he’s there but I feel like there’s no real solutions, nothing offered, no empathy,” she said. “I was not very reassured, to be honest.”

Was there any value for you, I asked her neighbor Kelly Gabriel. “I don’t think so. There were no solutions there.

The first President Bush presided over the end of the Cold War, the victory over Saddam Hussein in Kuwait and the declaration of a new world order. He was then kicked out by an Arkansas governor named Clinton, whose political sidekick James Carville told anyone who would listen “it’s the economy, you idiot.”

There are very good reasons for Albanese’s foreign visits since he became Prime Minister, and they certainly cannot be compared to holidays.

But he has to be careful, as George Bush Sr discovered, being a hero abroad won’t save you anything if you can’t solve the problems at home.

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