Robert Doyle, under pressure by the local media, has backed down and canceled his intended St.Petersburg “Junket” leaving a member of Staff on 50,000 for three days to attend the St Petersburg Days of Melbourne celebrations.
Melbourne is one of St. Petersburg 26 Sister Cities. Whilst Melbourne’s Sister City relationship with St Petersburg is of value in Australia’s relationship with Russia there are questions about the way in which the City of Melbourne goes about recognising and valuing the relationship.
The role and way in which the Australian Embassy in Moscow represents Australia is also under question.
The Moscow Embassy, according to the DFAT web site, is also responsible for representing Australia’s Interests in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
It is headed up by Margaret Twomey.
The Embassy, in what is seen as indicative of the Moscow’s office, did little to nothing to further Australia’s representation in Ukraine, an important strategic nation in the region. In an embarrasing oversight, DFAT and the Embassy has forgotten to update Ukraine on the Embassy’s list of Nations that it represented highlighting the value or lack of value they show towards recognising Ukraine as a nation. Georgia is not even listed as a country. Ukraine and Georgia were part of the Moscow Office of responsibility but it appears that Ukraine is now represented by the Austrian Embassy in Vienna. DFAT has not updated their index listing. If only they paid more attention to their job and less attention on junkets and social events whilst actively justifying their highly paid salaries and hardship living away from home benefits.
When an Australian was shot in an apparent road rage incident in Kyiv last year the Embassy was able to offer little to no support. Which by comparison to the level of support offered to other incidents around the world that had attracted significant media attention raises series questions as to the ability of the Embassy’s administration. Little wonder why Moscow lost responsibility for Ukraine.
Less celebration and more work is required.