Tim Colebatch in the Age.Read more >>
In his desperation for a deal, the PM accepted an agreement that would mean free trade in one direction, but restricted trade the other way...
Could you imagine Sir John McEwen, Bob Hawke or Paul Keating accepting this cringing, second-rate outcome?
As one advocate of a Australia-US deal puts it privately, the problem is that negotiations ended at the half-way mark. In February the negotiators should have walked away, taken a long break for consultations and rethinking, and then resumed talks after both countries had got their elections out of the way.
That is still the way to do it. It is only possible if Labor has the guts to defy the Murdoch empire - half-owner of Australia's pay TV network, and hence a major beneficiary of the deal - vote this agreement down, and restart negotiations in 2005.