Since writing my article Australia in the Solomons: A case study in 21st Century Gunboat Diplomacy I have had the opportunity to do some more research into AusAID and its so called commitment to the Pacific region, a commitment which the former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands Mr. Julian Moti QC referred to as “AusAIDing and Abetting Corruption” and with good reason.
In 2010 The Sunday Telegraph conducted an investigation into AusAID funding in the Pacific region and found that tens of millions of dollars of Australian taxpayer’s money was being squandered on paying mega-salaries to ‘briefcase’ consultants and advisors and lucrative contracts to private firms. This is money that could otherwise be spent on ‘grass-roots’ projects that would deliver real outcomes to the people of the region. It is this practice that I have referred to in the past as ‘boomerang aid. The only interests ‘boomerang aid’ serve are those of the donor country. Its jobs and dollars for the boys and girls in ‘the club’ masquerading as foreign aid, the real losers in this type of arrangement are the poorest of the poor of the region, including the Solomon Islands.
While on the topic of ‘AusAIDing and Abetting Corruption’ Moti further noted that “the Australian Government’s admission of its resort to sovereign bribery and corruption to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council says a lot about Australia and its governing mindset.” Indeed it does speak volumes about the governing mindset in Australia and for no other reason, though there are many, should ensure that Australia is denied the fruits of its corruption. After all voting Australia a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council after it has admitted to buying votes would be the same as allowing a convicted felon to keep the proceeds of his crimes! This would count as nothing less than a slap in the face of the principles of the ‘rule of law’. After all, isn’t Australia all about adhering to the ‘rule of law’ while bring the benefits of this quixotic notion to the ‘savages of the Pacific’?
How quixotic is the notion of the ‘rule of law’ as defined by the Australian national interest can be gaged by the actions of Australia in the Charles Dausabea, Nelson Ne’e, and Alex Bartlett matters currently before the Solomon Islands High Court. Following the April 2006 riots in Honiara, RAMSI police arrested, charged and brought to trial Charles Dausabea and Nelson Ne’e, then members of the Solomon Islands Parliament, alleging that they orchestrated the riots. Former Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Alex Bartlett (who had a large number of charges against him) also stood trial. The underlying issues of discontent that rose to the surface in a spontaneous act of civil defiance by the denizens of Honiara have been more fully explored in my article AFP accused of fabricating evidence, yet again! The charges against all three were eventually dismissed; following these dismissals all three commenced civil actions for damages
In the manoeuvres and machinations that form the basis of any trial based on the ‘rule of law’ lawyers acting for the three applicants Dausabea, Ne’e and Bartlett sought to subpoena certain information from Australia, information that would shine a light onto the actions of RAMSI and the Australian Federal Police in the lead up to and during the April 2006 riots.
Australia has refused to comply with this subpoena, citing the immunity provisions in the RAMSI Treaty. Herein lays the problem and the point of this article. Who owns all the information which is recorded in RAMSI’s files? As an equal partner of RAMSI, can the Solomon Islands Government demand that information? Can the High Court of Solomon Islands order that information to be released to the Solomon Islands Government?
These are all interesting questions and they go to the very heart of what RAMSI is. If RAMSI is; as we are all lead to believe, a treaty amongst equals, they surely, all of the information held and acquired by RAMSI is the joint property of all treaty signatories. If so, what legal basis does Australia have for not complying with a subpoena issued by the Solomon Islands High Court for RAMSI files?
The reality is that RAMSI is not a treaty amongst equals. It is a cover that allows Australia to continue its practice of sovereign bribery and corruption in the Pacific a practice which is whitewashed by the Australian media as “politicking”. RAMSI far from being a treaty of equals is another whitefellas civilizing mission to the so called ‘savages of the Pacific’. In reality RAMSI is nothing more than a façade behind which Australia exploits the poorest of the poor in the name of whitefellas charity, while pretending to the world that it is behaving as a good international citizen. It does this while lining the pockets of the chosen few well connected Australian and international companies and expects the world to reward this blatant hypocrisy and sovereign corruption by giving a racist, patronizing and corrupt Australia a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
In the name of indigenous rights, I ask the people of the pacific to lobby their leaders to put sovereign interest before white, racist and corrupt Australian interests. As to the RAMSI Treaty, perhaps Dausabea, Ne’e and Bartlett’s lawyers should simply subpoena the Solomon Islands Government for the information they want. Surely as an equal RAMSI partner the Solomon Islands Government will have immediate access to all RAMSI files!
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