Article – Abbott cancels talks with world financiers

9 June 2014
Steven Scott
The Advertiser
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has been branded “embarrassing” by the Opposition for cancelling meetings with the world’s top finance officials during his visit to the US.
“Australians have to worry that he’ll be embarrassing us on the world stage,” Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said yesterday.
It was revealed Mr Abbott had cancelled long-planned meetings with US treasury secretary Jack Lew, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.
Ms Plibersek said Mr Abbott was “Nigel no-friends” on the world stage, suggesting he was avoiding facing up to criticism of Australia’s lack of action on climate change.
She said it was extraordinary that Mr Abbott wasn’t meeting the top economic officials at a time when Australia was preparing to host world leaders for the November G20 summit, “the most important international meeting that has ever been held on Australian soil”.
But a spokeswoman for Mr Abbott’s office said in a statement on Saturday he was scheduled to meet Mr Lew and Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve.
“In the United States, the Prime Minister has a very full program of formal talks with President (Barack) Obama and other political, policy and business leaders focusing on how we can strengthen this extraordinarily important bilateral relationship.
“The Prime Minister is also leading a business delegation to strengthen trade and business ties between our countries.” The statement did not mention any planned meetings with Ms Lagarde or Dr Kim.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has defended his boss’s international meeting schedule, saying it’s not possible to meet everyone.
Mr Truss said meeting schedules on overseas trips were usually fluid, with some appointments not finalised until the last minute.
“The Prime Minister has a very heavy schedule in several countries over a few days and he simply can’t meet everyone in every town,” he told the ABC yesterday.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has previously met with the heads of the IMF and the World Bank and will hold further meetings in July. They will attend the G20 summit in November.
Mr Abbott has said he does not want climate change to be the focus of the summit.
Meanwhile, Trade Minister Andrew Robb says a discussion paper on northern Australia’s future will be released by Mr Truss in Townsville tomorrow.
The green paper will be the first stage in the development of a long-term policy for the region, fulfilling a Coalition election promise.
Mr Robb, who is in Canada with Mr Abbott and a 20-member business delegation, said pension funds in North America – which were already involved in a billions of dollars of Australian infrastructure projects – were looking for new opportunities.“These pension funds could end up in agribusiness investments through the supply chain,” he said.
Courtesy of The Advertiser