Abbott, Bishop impress on world stage over MH17

I HAVE always thought of Tony Abbott as the two-legged equivalent of an American pit bulldog, incapable of focusing on anything more esoteric than snarling and biting.

In Julie Bishop, his Foreign Affairs minister, I figured he had his female doppelganger, she too an angry ant-spitting viperish vitriol.

I even unintentionally caught her on the ABC trying to demonstrate her cuddly femininity while at home cooking.

However, the exercise failed to soften her tough-as-nails image one iota to my mind.

But the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists has seen each of them grow another leg.

They've climbed on to the world stage and shown themselves to be true statesmen, leaving the pit bull role to the US's A-team, Obama and Kerry.

Abbott and Bishop have adopted a very restrained, diplomatic but tough stance, pushing the UN Security Council of which Russia, by the way, is a member with veto powers, to initiate action to (1) identify the culprits, (2) repatriate the bodies of those killed, and (3) punish the culprits.

The mission is being run by the Dutch and Malays. 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Australia has committed 190 experts to the cause and the Russian mongrel Putin has been forced by the weight of global moral outrage (not to mention the threat of further tightened economic sanctions) to co-operate.

This is the same mongrel who defied international law and treaties signed by Russia itself guaranteeing sovereignty to the Ukrainian government to invade Crimea and annex it.

That is the mark of how well Abbott and Bishop have handled this crisis and I for one am in awe.

To frame their response, Abbott and Bishop had to resist the jingoistic calls of radio jocks, callers to their horrible programs and not insignificantly, some of the press, unashamed supporters of the Coalition, to ban Putin from the coming G20 conference in Brisbane.

It would have done no good whatsoever and the softly, softly but tough approach to reign in Putin has apparently worked.

The black box has been found, he has accepted that the bodies must be retrieved and returned to grieving families and appears to be fair dinkum in his promise to try to settle the maniacal hot heads running the revolution in Ukraine.

Given of course that they continue to make it difficult. At time of writing there were unsubstantiated claims that they had set land mines on approaches to the site.

I suppose Australia's recent increasingly potent role in world politics could be traced back to the response of Kevin Rudd to the Global Financial Crisis in 2007-2008.

John Howard before that looked good in the wake of the Bali bombings and the crisis in East Timor in the early noughties, but it was Rudd who gave clarity to our importance in the scheme of things.

Many say that ours is a minor footprint on the world stage in that our population numbers just 24 million.

But that ignores the fact that we rank in the top 10 economies of the world, we are a European and democratic outpost in Asia and the Pacific, and we seem to be able to produce leaders who can command respect on the world stage, if not at home.