AUSTRALIA BELIEVES IT HAS an important role in the Pacific region?
Tony Abbott's new government has just removed the role AusAID played in Pacific development - subsuming it into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and undercutting its claims to be independent of government influence.
The aid agency has been relegated to a sub-department of DFAT. The position of Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs has been abolished. The director of AusAID has resigned in disgust.
Meanwhile Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop turns her attention turned to Indonesia, where a diplomatic crisis of Tony Abbott's making looms.
So what is to happen to Papua New Guinea?
Ms Bishop says aid should be aligned to trade priorities. Abbott doesn't seem to care and, apart from Bishop, there are no people in the cabinet with experience of PNG, Australia’s nearest and strategically important neighbour.
The objectives seem to be Indonesia and the Middle East. So PNG is relegated to second or third class.
Mr Abbott doesn’t seem to realise that the greatest challenges to border protection are not a few people on boats from Indonesia, but hordes of TB infected illegals leaking into north Queensland.
Or so some of his colleagues would have us believe. The evidence? Two asylum seekers came to Australia by that route.
So irritate the Indonesians, continue a crook asylum seeker deal with O'Neil, cut aid budgets, forget about AusAID’s independence and allow PNG high rollers to spend their ill-gotten gains in Australia.
What a wonderful world!