So Senator Nick Xenophon got deported from Malaysia over the weekend. Fantastic. I have little time for so-called independent observers who fly around the world telling other people how to conduct their affairs. Why stop there – I have little time for busybodies at home too.
For some or other reason this story seems all over the papers today. Maybe the Nielson poll crowded out the story yesterday. Anyway here is Peter Hartcher:
So why is the government so afraid of Nick Xenophon? Why stop him at the airport with the confected explanation that he represents a threat to national security?
The reason is that he is an international observer campaigning in favour of a free and fair election.
But, above all, Malaysia’s overreaction to Xenophon simply validates his point that it is not a mature democracy. This has been Carr’s fig leaf to justify Australia’s silence at Malaysia’s lack of democratic freedom – that we have no place in criticising a mature democracy. The deportation of Xenophon is an implicit confession by the Najib government that Xenophon is right and Carr is wrong.
The argument that Xenophon was an international observer is a bit hard to swallow. If he was observing on behalf of the Australian government (or some other international agency) he would have travelled on a diplomatic passport and/or his visit would have been approved by the Malaysian authorities before he arrived. But it seems he arrived as a (foreign) private citizen intending to be an activist “campaigning in favour of a free and fair election”. I can think of no reason why any nation should allow foreigners to arrive uninvited to campaign in domestic elections. My view, of course, is somewhat different to foreigners arriving uninvited to seek out employment opportunities.
Here is Xenophon himself – together with Michael Danby (ALP, Melbourne Ports) putting the boot into Bob Carr:
WE come from different political backgrounds but we both believe Nick’s deportation from Malaysia on the weekend raises important issues of consistency in Australia’s foreign policy.
But Xenophon was not representing the Australian government when he went to Malaysia – he was acting in a private capacity. It is interesting to note, however, that this is morphing into an attack on the foreign minister – and from within the ALP.
Update: Mumble makes the same argument – but you read it here first.