Last weekend Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave a speech at the Boao Forum in China.
The audience included President Xi Jinping and other world leaders. I was present along with a delegation of Australian business leaders.
While it was not entirely unexpected, it was disappointing all the same to hear the Prime Minister claim total ownership of the Australia - China relationship.
She lavished praise on the efforts of the Whitlam and Hawke governments, as well as her own, but studiously ignored the contribution of the Howard Government, or indeed any other government, to the current strength of the bilateral relationship.
It was a graceless attempt at rewriting history, which would otherwise show that China has been a priority for every Australian government for decades.
The Howard Government nurtured and maintained a constructive, predictable and strong relationship with China, based on mutual respect.
Major milestones included the establishment of the first ever ministerial level human rights dialogue with China, the commencement of negotiations for a free trade agreement in 2005 (since stalled under this government), an exponential increase in trade including the signing of major gas contracts, and the historic visit of President Hu Jintao in 2003 when he addressed a joint sitting of the Parliament.
Such was our standing at that time that the Chinese President chose Australia for his first official overseas visit after taking office.
Her speech should have come as no surprise sadly, for on the eve of her visit to China, Prime Minister Gillard also accused the Howard government of squandering taxation revenue and wasting the proceeds of the mining boom.
This is pretty rich, given that the Labor Government inherited from the Howard government the best set of national accounts of any incoming government in living memory.
It does take chutzpah on a grand scale for Julia Gillard to accuse other governments of wasting money on quick fixes and engaging in excessive spending.
With her government on track to deliver yet another massive budget deficit - its fifth in as many years and cumulatively the biggest budget deficits ever recorded - her hypocrisy is breathtaking.
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