The Samoan Government has announced that Australian Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, will visit the country next week as part of a Pacific tour that also includes Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.
Ms Bryce will address Samoa’s parliament and call on Samoa’s head of state, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.
Her two days in Samoa has also been scheduled for a visit to SENESE, a school for people with disabilities, meetings with the Prime Minister and a tour of the new police station which has been built with assistance from AusAID.
What all this means in reality is that vice-regal corruption has become the resort of a desperate aspirant, to a seat on the United Nations Security Council (“UNSC”), courting a Pacific constituency by parading Australian Government charity and “generosity”!
Australia sent Ms Bryce to Africa in 2009 on the same mission … to secure support for Australia’s ambitions for a UNSC seat. Ms Bryce’s 2009 African odyssey drew a lot of well-deserved criticism at that time and cost the Aussie taxpayer $700,000. The purpose behind the Governor-General’s 19 day 2009 African odyssey was, in the words of then Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, to:
Promote Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
At the time of her 2009 African Odyssey, the Opposition publically stated that it believed the Government was going about the bid in the wrong way and charged that, on a series of issues, it has compromised foreign policy in its pursuit of the UN seat.
The Opposition may be completely right or completely wrong about this, but it means the nature of the UN bid is a subject of partisan dispute in Australia. It is therefore absolutely wrong for the Governor-General to involve herself in this matter.
Governors-general should travel overseas only rarely and for ceremonial purposes. They have no right to engage in foreign policy debate, at home or abroad. The Australian Government’s previously feigned interest in Africa was seen cynically by the Africans; hopefully Australia’s Pacific neighbours will treat the Governor-General’s latest odyssey with the same cynicism.
One reason the Howard government declined to pursue a UN Security Council seat at the start of this decade, having failed in 1996, was that it knew such a campaign would distort foreign and aid policy and be very expensive. Compromising the role of the governor-general for party political purposes is merely another example of the cynical attitude the Australian Labor Party (“ALP”) holds towards Australia’s democracy, the Australian ‘rule of law’ and the rights of the world’s indigenous people.
Australia and the United Nations Security Council
Following the Bali Bombings in October 2002, Australia sought a bigger presence in the Pacific. To achieve this Australia resorted to a combination of cheque book and gunboat diplomacy. Australia’s evolving view of Weltpolitik has nothing to do with altruism and everything to do with its attempts to justify the unjustifiable – it’s shameful treatment of the world’s indigenous people.
The spearhead of Australia’s gunboat diplomacy was to become the International Deployment Group (“IDG”), a division of the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”). The then Australian Prime Minister John Howard justified the existence of the IDG and Australia’s greater involvement in the internal affairs of the sovereign states of the Pacific on the grounds that Australia would help to bring the ‘rule of law’ to the “savages” of the Pacific, which is nothing more than a re-rendering of the nineteenth century concept of the ‘White Man’s Burden’, a burden that led to genocide or attempted genocide in Tasmania, Argentina, the United States, Chile culminating in the Nazi’s attempt to rid Europe of its burdensome Jews.
In fact, to bring the ‘rule of law’ to the wilds of the planet is one of the functions of the UNSC. If Australia were to be successful in its bid for a seat on the UNSC, the obvious group it would look towards in attempting to fulfil its UNSC functions would be the IDG. This is the same IDG that has had sixty complaints made against it since 2009. Forty of the complaints against the AFP/IDG came from the Solomon Islands where the IDG is working with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (“RAMSI”), supported by the Australian Army Reserve, to help bring the ‘rule of law’ to the “savages” of the Solomons.
What is worse for the people of the Solomons and elsewhere in the Pacific where the AFP/IDG already has a presence is that, to use the words of the former Commonwealth Ombudsman Allan Asher, who resigned under controversial circumstances last year:
… the AFP was not taking complaints against its officers seriously.
Mr Asher went on to say that the AFP’s international missions operated without any real independent oversight:
It’s worse in a way, when there is apparent jurisdiction, but the job is not done … than not having any jurisdiction at all …
Adding to the problems associated with a lack of independent oversight is that the AFP has cleared itself of every complaint about excessive use of force made by a member of the public since the Commonwealth Ombudsman became responsible in January 2007 for reviewing the AFP’s complaint-handling activities. Further in a press release by Mr Asher dated 9 February, 2011, he observed that:
‘It is clear that there were deficiencies in the AFP’s complaint-handling practices during this period,’ the Ombudsman, Allan Asher, said. ‘In some cases, there was little evidence to show that AFP members took steps to diffuse difficult situations before resorting to force, while in others the records were inconsistent or incomplete.’
In a situation where the AFP/IDG have no external oversight and they exonerate themselves 100% of the time, what do the indigenous people of the Pacific think will happen to them if Australia were to actually be successful in its bid for a seat on the UNSC? It would be carte blanche for the AFP’s racism and corruption! Who would lose? The unfortunates whose lands were occupied by the AFP/IDG.
Indeed, what befell Mr Julian Moti QC, the former Attorney-General of the Solomons, the very jurisdiction where two-thirds of the complaints against the AFP/IDG originated, should be a salutary lesson for any sovereign state consideration entertaining an AFP/IDG presence on their soil. In retaliation for concerns Mr Moti raised about the AFP/IDG presence in the Solomon’s, the Australian Government conspired with the AFP to kidnap Mr Moti and return him to Australia to stand trial on stale, trumped up charges. To this date no AFP officer or Australian public official has been held to account for this travesty of justice. Fortunately for Mr Moti, the High Court of Australia (“HCA”) found that the AFP actions were such that they should be estopped from pursuing their politically motivated vendetta against Mr Moti.
Australia’s disregard for the rights of its Melanesian neighbours
A seat on the UNSC brings with it responsibilities, responsibilities extending to upholding the ‘rule of law’ and speaking out when the ‘rule of law’ is being circumvented by foreign governments for political reasons; not so Australia. West Papua, one of Australia’s close Melanesian neighbours, has had its land occupied by the Javanese for five decades now. What has Australia done about the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the Javanese in West Papua? Nothing. Surely human rights abuses, amounting to genocide must be an affront to the ‘rule of law’? Clearly not to Australian eyes.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has issued its opinion that the Government of Indonesia is in violation of international law by detaining Mr Filep Karma.
Mr Karma is a prominent Papuan human rights advocate and former civil servant arrested on 1 December 2004 for raising the Papuan Morning Star flag at a political rally in commemoration of Papuan independence from Dutch rule. Although Mr Karma has explicitly denounced the use of violence, he was convicted for crimes of hostility against the state and sedition in a trial that fell far below international standards of due process. He now languishes in prison serving a fifteen-year sentence, despite health concerns and calls for his release by numerous NGOs and government officials. In August 2011, 26 members of the United States Congress urged President Yudhoyono to release Mr Karma. Forty members of Congress signed a similar letter in 2008.
On July 28, 2011 Amnesty International activists and supporters rallied in front of the Indonesian embassy in Washington DC to raise their voices on behalf of this prisoner of conscience. The rally was held a week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travelled to Indonesia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Entrepreneurship Summit. Amnesty International urged Clinton to publicly state that human rights will play as important a role as trade and security in US–ASEAN relations.
What has the Australian Government done to assist Mr Karma’s plight? Nothing. Why? Because in the eyes of white Australian’s, which represent those Australian’s who wield the real power in Canberra, indigenous people aren’t worth a fleck of fly dust. Why then would indigenous people anywhere support Australia’s bid for a UNSC seat?
As a Wiradjuri, I call on my Melanesian brothers and sisters to protest Australia’s involvement in the affairs of the sovereign states of the Pacific; if we stand with one voice we can frustrate Australia’s racist agenda in the Pacific and in the UNSC.
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