I'd been diligently researching, attempting to understand what the new security treaty between China and Solomon Islands meant, when former ambassador (now distinguished fellow at the ANU) made a comment that quite literally blew my tiny mind. He suggested the possibility - anathema to the media for obvious reasons - that sometimes two seemingly contradictory alternatives may both be true at once.
So while it may indeed have been preferable that this particular treaty hadn't been signed, it was, for example, worth recognising a similar treaty had been inked between Beijing and Suva some half-a-decade ago. Fiji is nonetheless still a thriving democracy closely aligned with Australia.
Similarly, if we recognise and respect Solomon Islands' independence, how can Canberra possibly pressure and heavy Honiara to refuse aid, simply because it comes from China?
None of this sort of complexity plays well in the media or, indeed, in politics. The possibility that there might be no simple answers hasn't yet occurred to any politician standing in front of a microphone since this campaign began.
The world is - depending on who you choose to listen to - either on the precipice of cataclysmic disaster or, alternately, the best possible, and about to become ever better, because the government's suddenly found an extra $20 million for more camping and fishing facilities. How good is that?
There's nothing, though, for Lake Burley Griffin of course, but that's par for the course. Scott Morrison's made it quite clear the prosperity gospel only works in marginal electorates. Nobody can be rewarded unless they meet the well thought-out and clear criteria that's clearly expressed deep within the recesses of the sports minister's colour-coded mind.
Pointing out that the politicians are merely hanging on to the runaway car of government as it careers independently down the highway isn't the same as suggesting this government's actually competent. It's merely noting both major parties are bitterly fighting over such narrow policy differences that debate is drifting further from reality as the rhetoric intensifies.
So, and simply from a political perspective, while this does not in any way exonerate Morrison, Marise Payne and Zed Seselja from blame, this doesn't mean that exactly the same thing would not have occurred if Labor was in government. There's a great deal of the Islands' domestic politics, which is intensely fractious, wrapped into this issue.
It's also important to note that Kevin Rudd is wrong: Australia's aid to the Solomons has increased. While this current government is specifically responsible for the stupidity of actions like winding-up Radio Australia, the trend towards less meaningful engagement with this region, our intimate neighbourhood, began long ago.
Our diplomats, academics (particularly our academics) and other contacts in the Islands aren't stupid. Most are, in fact, are very well tapped into what's happening; if Canberra failed to listen, it wasn't because the government didn't know what was going on.
Perhaps it's rather the case that a couple of our politicians (my guess) or senior agency bosses (and one in particular) failed to 'read the room', understand what was happening, and create other possible futures. They certainly weren't able to imagine how the issue might explode in the government's face when it was finally revealed. It all does, however, make rather a joke of the entire Coalition's much-vaunted defence strategy.
This treaty means a central tenet of the Coalition's entire defence strategy has somehow been outflanked. What's the point of establishing a forward operating naval base on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea if it's already bypassed? What is the point of concentrating on military conflict if politics is the decisive arena in shaping the battle space and (as the great Chinese strategist Sun Tzu said first) "the greatest victory is one which requires no battle".
The PM's response to this issue is such a part of his entire approach that it demonstrates both the reason it's important that he is removed from the Lodge but exactly why this is so difficult to achieve.
Morrison has fulminated, time and time again about China's nefarious purposes and yet his entire response to this treaty has been merely to effectively to shrug his shoulders and move on.
He bobs on the water like a cork, drifting this way and that as the tide turns and yet, no matter how great the undertow or how many hands push him beneath the water, he just bounces back, floating up to the surface yet again.
He changes nothing, stands for nothing, but simply floats and floats.
This explains why Labor's finding this campaign so difficult. Nothing can break through Morrison's Teflon persona for the simple reason that he believes the world he creates in his mind from day to day is the actual one we live in.
We catch a glimpse of this in his personal approval of Katherine Deves as the candidate for Warringah and his comments about being 'blessed' because his children aren't disabled. At first glance, neither of these incidents might appear significant. That misunderstands the way Morrison perceives the world.
Deves wasn't the pick of party members in this electorate - she was imposed on them by Morrison and Premier Dominic Perrottet.
They may not have understood the entirety of her fixation on trans- issues but they certainly understood her worldview.
Their objective is to reshape this world so it matches the one they have in their mind. Morrison's 'blessed' comment demonstrates how he sees the work of God in everything that happens.
Rudd's churchgoing was, by comparison, anodyne. Morrison utterly believes. This is not simply a Sunday practice - it informs his every action.
That's why he can so easily shake off casual remarks when they're called out as being ill-informed and inappropriate. To him these are mere details; he's working towards a much bigger objective.
There's nothing to be gained from dissection of the minor details between the major party policies. Their differences are much more elemental.
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