Beneath the stones, the beach

Enjoy the Silence – Turnbull coalition remix

A couple of important issues that have been lost amongst the noise of techno-Dumbo’s (Prime Minister ‘Emperor’ Nero and Deputy Prime Minister ‘Captain’ Jack Sparrow) making ridiculous claims about the dangers of renewable energy.

East Timor

In 1989, the Australian Foreign Minister in the Keating government, Gareth Evans, and the Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas signed a treaty providing for the joint exploration of petroleum resources in the Timor Sea. The legality of the treaty was immediately called into question as a threat to the interests of the people of East Timor (at this time still an Indonesian colony but actively fighting for independence).

In 2002, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard and the East Timorese Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, signed a new treaty and this time East Timor received 90% of the derived revenue. However there was a catch. A previous treaty, signed in 1972 between Gough Whitlam’s government and the Indonesians, had the maritime barrier two-thirds of the way between the two countries, rather than at the median point.

This effectively meant that East Timor would only receive 20% of any derived revenue (because the revenue split was based on how much of the exploration territory belonged to which territory). Successive Australian governments had effectively swindled their small neighbour (and war time ally). In 2006 the then Foreign Minister, Alexander ‘Tough Guy’ Downer, threatened the East Timorese with an indefinite halt to exploration unless they accepted Australia’s terms.In April this year, Timorese Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo initiated formal conciliation proceedings by invoking the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He aims to establish an exclusive economic zone, including a permanent boundary, one that will allow the island to gain control of the entire lucrative Greater Sunrise fields.Australia has argued that the Hague's international arbitration court does not have jurisdiction over the dispute as per CMATs (Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea)—a response that bears striking similarities to China's viewpoint when the same court ruled on the South China Sea dispute. In an effort to appeal to the U.S. for help earlier this year, PM Araujo also accused Australia of behaving like Beijing.

On Monday September 26, the court refuted Canberra's claims, announcing that it was indeed competent to hold conciliation. Talks between the two countries will now continue over the next year.

Iraq and AfghanistanHere’s the story of another ‘tough guy’. HE WAS lauded in London as the “tough guy” of international politics but a damning report has concluded former Australian Prime Minister John Howard wasn’t tough at all when it came to pushing back against the US and UK as they flung themselves headlong into a war now condemned as unjustifiable.During Howard’s prime ministership, Australia sent 2000 troops and ploughed $5 billion into the 2003 Iraq conflict. While it led to the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein it killed tens of thousands of civilians and hundreds of troops including two Australians.

More than a decade after the war’s beginning, Iraq is still wracked by conflict and bloodshed.

The damning conclusions of the UK’s Iraq Inquiry, also known as the Chilcot report, has led to calls for Howard to be tried for “war crimes” for going to battle based on a “lie”.Chilcot stated that ‘The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.’ The emphasis he put on ‘before’ and ‘not’ were an indication of what was to come. He continued:The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate.The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.

In a resignation letter tendered to the Blair government in response to the U.K. decision to invade Iraq, the Foreign Office legal adviser Elizabeth Wilmshurst, stated:I regret that I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force without a second Security Council resolution … I cannot in conscience go along with advice within the Office or to the public or Parliament – which asserts the legitimacy of military action without such a resolution, particularly since an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to the crime of aggression; nor can I agree with such action in circumstances which are so detrimental to the international order and the rule of law.