Attila the Pun
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
AUSTRALIA will not automatically sign a non-aggression pact with its Asian neighbours just because New Zealand has signed up, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said today.
Hardly an earth shattering statement by Lexie there, and it was probably in response to a stupid question by a journo.
Australia has consistently refused to join ASEAN nations in signing the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation, a pact banning the use of violence to settle regional conflicts.
But that's not all it bans, as the Professor has pointed out. Quoting a paper published by New Zealand's Centre for Strategic Studies, he notes that the treaty has imposed the following obligations on signatories:
1/ Refraining from criticising the actions of the governments of member-states towards its (sic) own people.
2/ Directing criticism at the actions of states that are perceived to constitute a breach of the principle of non-intervention.
3/ Denying recognition, sanctuary, or other forms of support to any rebel group seeking to destabilise or overthrow the government of a neighbouring state.
4/ Providing political support and material assistance to member-states in their actions against subversive activities.
If the Australian Government were to follow number 1 strictly then the same people criticising Howard for not signing the treaty would berate him for not criticising some Asian countries for their poor human rights activities. The News.com.au report continued:
But the Government eased its hardline stance against the treaty after ASEAN members flagged that being a signatory to the pact would be a precondition to joining the crucial East Asia summit later this year.
Why is the summit "crucial"? Sure, it would be nice for Australia to attend ASEAN shindigs, but there is not even a hint in this report as to why it is "crucial" enough to require Australia to sign a sweeping treaty as a condition of entry.
Downer also takes the opportunity for bit of old fashioned kiwi bashing as well:
"Australia is a proud and independent country and we're able to beat New Zealand at rugby, we thrashed them at cricket, and there's no reason why we should always do what New Zealand does.
"We're a bit more confident a country than that."
Unecessary? Certainly. Amusing? Definitely.
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