Not long after the Abbott government was elected in 2013, the contract for Australian broadcasting into the Pacific was ripped up.
Ending the "Australia Network" was a political act amid hostilities with the contract holder, the ABC, but at the same time it undid a significant Australian soft diplomacy effort in the region.
The wrong was justified at the time because the government viewed the ABC as not meeting its contractual obligations, but it is apparent now as Australia seeks again to beam out its view of the world to its neighbours.
It is a whole nine years ago now, but instructive, as it took place as the current Coalition government came to power.
As the Liberal-Nationals settled into office, foreign aid budgets were successively cut despite the concerted efforts of then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, but there was a pivot to the Pacific. A regrouping to our region based on necessity, not national security.
The Pacific Step-up program was announced in 2016 by then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with the Pacific remaining the main focus of the Australian aid program. All the while, our neighbours - dealing with the reality of rising sea levels - were pleading for climate action from the world, particularly the biggest neighbour.
At the same time, China was doing its own type of diplomacy, building much needed shiny things across the Pacific; government buildings, convention centres, roads, anything that could not be afforded.
It was impossible to compete and it was gratefully received, but there were strings attached.
It is now crunch time with the signing of a security pact between the Solomon Islands and China, which just happens to be in the middle of an election campaign in which the government wants to talk about national security - in particular standing up to China.
The Solomon Islands wants help and despite all that Australia has given over the years with the RAMSI policing support, 350,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Coral Sea undersea cable, infrastructure and patrol boats, it still was not enough.
All the talk of "our Pacific family" and the Solomons viewing Australia as the "first call," can't hide that the Australian government was warned about the deal back in August by the Solomons opposition leader and that ultimately the Solomons chose China.
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has said he has found the whole concern about the pact "very insulting" and has vowed not to pick sides.
Mr Morrison is trying to hose down any talk of a Chinese base being built only 1700 kilometres from Cairns.
"The prime minister of the Solomon Islands has made it very clear that they are not accepting of any base in the Solomon Islands. They are not," he said on Wednesday.
Looks like his deputy did not get the memo.
"We don't want our own little Cuba off our coast," Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said while campaigning.
"That is not what is good for this nation. Not what is good for the region."
This is being cast as a significant regional security failure, not least because sending the Minister for the Pacific, ACT Senator Zed Seselja is being seen as a "too little, too late" measure. The Foreign Minister Marise Payne being at a private business dinner in Sydney on the night Senator Seselja was sent does not help either, although Mr Morrison said this was to communicate "very clearly and very respectfully".
Ms Bishop has been "helpful" for her former colleagues, suggesting Senator Payne get on the next plane to Honiara.
It is clear, at this point of the campaign, if the government wants a Khaki election, the "strongman on China" rhetoric has just been found wanting.
Karen Barlow is ACM's Chief Political Correspondent. Working in the federal press gallery, she investigates and writes about federal politics and government. She has an interest in integrity, leadership and social equity. She has covered two Olympics and been to Antarctica twice. Contact her on email@example.com
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