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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4885


Senator GREIG (4:40 PM) —Volume and animation is no substitute for substance. I welcome the support from the opposition and thank all senators for their contributions, regardless of how they feel about the issue. I will say a few things in conclusion. I find it intriguing that anybody who speaks up against current international circumstances, speaks up in support of the United Nations or speaks up in support of the International Criminal Court is somehow accused of being anti-American. We Australian Democrats are not anti-American, but we are antithuggery and anti-imperialist. We believe in the international rule of law and international global support.

Senator Ferguson argued repeatedly that America was a very powerful nation, politically and economically. I have no argument with that. But for that reason it must be a team player. For that reason the peoples of the world are concerned that the most powerful nation in the world is not above the law. That is why it is in the United States' interests and in global interests for it to be a cooperative team player in the way the International Criminal Court is constituted and operates.

Senator Ferguson said that the Americans were concerned about the possibility of politically motivated prosecutions—that is an understandable concern for any country that signs on to this—yet he was silent on the question of politically motivated non-prosecutions and the possibility for countries to remove themselves and their citizens from prosecution for their own political reasons, which is why the ICC can best operate if it is one-in, all-in. Senator Ferguson argued also that domestic remedies were the best option for dealing with this. We have seen, Senator Mason, in long discussions we have had on antigenocide in relation to Australia, for example, that domestic remedies are often inadequate and they have clearly failed within an Australian jurisdiction, which is why our signing on to the ICC is welcome.

Senator Johnston argued that America was a great human rights advocate and talked about the appalling way that women were treated in Afghanistan. He failed to point out that the US funded and resourced the Taliban—the most appalling administrators of the laws in that country—for some time. He failed to point out that the US was absent during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. He failed to point out the funding and support for military regimes in South America. He failed to point out that the US bombing of Iraq has killed 400,000 children in the last decade and that when Madeleine Albright was asked about this she said it was `a price worth paying'.

We believe the ICC should be supported without qualification. We believe that the Senate has a duty and a right to express its opinion on this. As Senator Ferguson said, the government has not signed off on this, but let us get in early and make our case. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.