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December 2008

The Australian government persists with its travel warnings against Indonesia, despite heavy lobbying from Indonesian and Australian groups. Indonesia is a level 4, "Reconsider the need to travel" country, along with Saudi Arabia, Haiti and (now) India, while Israel, despite the recent attacks, remains level 3, "High degree of caution."

"We continue to receive credible information that terrorists could be planning attacks in Indonesia" has remained the justification for years, and this was reiterated by the Minister recently (and uncritically reported as something new by the media). The Australian government has been crying "wolf" like this for a long time, and all that this line does is reduce their credibility. Like the story of "the boy who cried wolf", there may indeed be real terrorists out there, but how do we tell? Wouldn't it be better to issue such warnings only when there is a real likelihood of attack, instead of as a blanket coverall to protect the government from media criticism in case something really does happen? Like the previous government, this one is more concerned with spin than providing a realistic assessment of what Indonesia is like to the Australian public.

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While notices of the death of Bali have been appearing for nearly 100 years, Susi Johnston's latest analysis of the island's problems, 'Does Bali need a reboot?' <> is an important contribution to analysing how the tourist marketing authorities and those responsible for Bali's infrastructure have lost the plot.

Mind you I don't agree with all of Susi's analysis, especially her view that wealthy westerners deserve their luxury holidays because they work so hard. This is an insult to workers everywhere who get run into the ground by their employers but would never in a million years be able to afford a good bottle of red while watching the sunset in a luxury hotel at Jimbaran. Some of those holidaying on Bali are indirect employers of the workers of the Third World, and even financiers who decide that for the sake of improving productivity or to make up for bad investment decisions, industries should shed thousands of jobs.


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