Thursday, November 09, 2006

SMH: "Artful dodging on treaty's more unpalatable parts"

Writing in the SMH, Mark Forbes gets to the nub of the sub-plot in the signing of the security treaty with Indonesia. As usual, the Howard government is playing to an agenda unworthy of a "good international citizen". Suppression of support for Papuan activists and assisting Indonesia's nuclear ambitions are obvious motives for both parties to the treaty, but we will be sold a line that avoids highlighting these unfortunate by-products. I can only hope that the wave of dissatisfaction crashing down on the Bush administration will lead to an ebb in the political fortunes of this bunch, before they do more damage to Australia's standing as a defender of human rights.

Following is an excerpt of the Forbes article:

"...Under the treaty to be signed on Monday, Australia will not only support Indonesian sovereignty over Papua but promise to prevent independence activists using Australia as a rallying point.

Jakarta is in no doubt that the clause is aimed at Papua, but Downer yesterday attempted to claim it was "nothing to do with asylum seekers in that sense. It's to do with not … supporting activities that are going to be … a threat to each other's countries.

"We don't want to see people, or we wouldn't want to see the Indonesian Government, supporting activities that could be a threat to our security."

Possibly, as one official joked, Canberra fears Aboriginal activists could gather in Bali to campaign for a breakaway state.

Downer also dodged on Australia's support for Indonesia's nuclear power program. "It's not about Australia establishing a nuclear power program in Indonesia - we don't have the technology," he said.

Australia is also considering developing a nuclear power capacity. More significantly, it is the most obvious source of uranium for the reactor Indonesia plans to build."

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