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Australia lobbying for indictment against Mug -

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(generated from captions) Lauren Harte, Lateline. Now to our interview and, as I said earlier, the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has had some competition recently in his own portfolio. Not in this case, from the Opposition. But from the unlikely quarter of the Treasurer, Peter Costello who's entered debates on the US Alliance, Iraq and global terrorism. And next week Mr Costello is off to Ache. ╝Start Just last month, as you've seen in the previous story, he backed a new hardline position against the Zimbabwean president

Robert Mugabe.

Naturally, there are other major foreign affairs issues on the agenda, too. And on a day when the Indonesian president has warned that a major terrorist attack is imminent in his country possibly against a high-profile Western target, we're joined by the actual Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer from his home in Adelaide.

Thanks for joining us. Can I ask

first or begin by asking if you

think the top rate of income tax

think the top rate of income tax is too high? Well , I think all of

too high? Well , I think all of us agree that if we could reduce

agree that if we could reduce income taxes across the board that would

taxes across the board that would be a good thing, but it depends very

much, doesn't it, on what the

revenue is going to be every year

and what the government's estimates

of expenditure are before you can

make those judgements. But we've

just had a very substantial

reduction in income tax and an

increase in the thresholds in the

last budget. Bearing all of that in

mine, when the next budget comes

around we'll have a look at the

situation, but the lower the tax

rate the better, of course. As we

just pointed out the Treasurer has

been making a lot of speeches and

talking a great deal about issues

talking a great deal about issues in your portfolio, the alliance and

Iraqis off to Aceh next week with a

pack of journalists. Are you

actually helping to facilitate

actually helping to facilitate these for rays into foreign affairs?

Absolutely, yes. We're very happy

to facilitate his visit next week

- I think it's next week to

Jakarta and up to Aceh as well

Jakarta and up to Aceh as well and I think it's a good thing he's

I think it's a good thing he's going there and other ministers generally

go there, not just the Prime

Minister and me. Alright. Let's

Minister and me. Alright. Let's get to one of his specific

recommendations in the foreign

affairs arena. We've seen today new

evidence of what's happening to

people in Zimbabwe who've been people in Zimbabwe who've been

having their homes bulldozed by the

Mugabe regime. Now they're being

Mugabe regime. Now they're being put into camps where it appears there's

not enough food and they can't

not enough food and they can't leave them. Mr Costello told us last

them. Mr Costello told us last month that the government would lobby the

UN Security Council to seek an indictment against President

indictment against President Mugabe for crimes against humanity. Has

that actually happened yet? Is that

lobbying process begun? Yes, this

lobbying process begun? Yes, this is a policy I put in place with the

a policy I put in place with the New Zealand Foreign Minister when we

Zealand Foreign Minister when we met up on the Sunshine Coast a few

up on the Sunshine Coast a few weeks ago. So, I appreciate the Treasurer picking up

picking up on this, but what we've

done is we've started a process of

talking with some of the members of

the Security Council and the reason

we're talking to the Security

Council is Zimbabwe is not a party

to the International Criminal Court

so to get an indictment through the International Criminal Court you

first of all have to get a

first of all have to get a reference from the United Nations Security

Council to the International

Criminal Court of the country

involved is not a signatory to the

ICC's statue. So we have begun to

ICC's statue. So we have begun to do that. I mean, I know it's going to

be very difficult to achieve,

frankly, but I very much hold the

view that as a country which is

party to the International Criminal

Court and bearing in mind the

Court and bearing in mind the simply horrific things that have happened

in Zimbabwe, particularly with the

clear rnce of housing, but also

other human rights abuses that are

taking place there, that it's worth

a try to try to get an indictment

into the International Criminal

Court. What sort of response have

you had so far from Security

you had so far from Security Council members you've spoken to? Well,

members you've spoken to? Well, to be honest with you, I think it's

best to describe the response as

"cautious". The United Nations

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has

appointed a special envoy on

Zimbabwe. She visited Zimbabwe a

Zimbabwe. She visited Zimbabwe a few weeks ago and produced a report

which in itself was quite an

indictment of the situation if

Zimbabwe and particularly the

clearance of the suburb, some of

clearance of the suburb, some of the suburbs around har rary and while

that is

that is still a work in progress,

what response the Security Council

is going to make and the United Nations generally to that report.

Look, we're still working on it. We

think this is an opportunity for

think this is an opportunity for the International Criminal Court to

become involved, but to be frank

with you, whether we can get a

resolution through the Security

Council to refer Zimbabwe or

President Mugabe and his regime to

the International Criminal Court, I

think that's going to be very

difficult to do. Very briefly on

that subject, do you have US

that subject, do you have US support for that? Uhm, I think the US -

I'm trying to remember the US'

position, but I think the US

position and the British position

and the French position is one of

wanting a bit more time to consider

this issue. Nobody has given a

commitment yet to take this forward.

Alright. Another extremely mornt

development in your portfolio

today, Indonesia's president has

warned of an imminent major

terrorist attack in Indonesia. Do

you know what intelligence he's

relying on? No, he's not relying on

intelligence to make this statement,

but interestingly enough he made

but interestingly enough he made the same sort of a statement or the

Indonesians made the same sort of

statement this time last year in

September/October last year. The

reason, as I understand it, that

reason, as I understand it, that the President has made the statement at

this time is because we're coming

this time is because we're coming up to the month, September and object,

when both the 9/11 attacks as well

as the Bali bombing took place and

he's of the view that it's possible

that you could get further

that you could get further terrorist attacks to coincide with those -

attacks to coincide with those - the anniversaries of those events.

That's why he's made the statement.

But we don't have any intelligence

at all suggest

at all suggesting there

at all suggesting there specifically is going to be a terrorist attack.

But, we of course have general

intelligence ant the possibility of

terrorist attacks? Indonesia.

Have you changed Australia's

Have you changed Australia's travel warnings, though, in response to

what the President has said? No, we

haven't, because we don't have any

New information at this time and

the travel warnings, as you know,

are very strong about the

possibility of terrorist attacks.

So, unless we get very specific

intelligence we tend not to

intelligence we tend not to change the travel advisories. It's a

pretty unusual warning, though,

isn't it, coming directly from the

President itself? Well, in a way

let me put it to you this way - I

think it's a very good thing he's

done this because it demonstrates a

point in case people have any doubt

about it, that the President

about it, that the President himself and many members of his government

are committed to dealing with the

problem of terrorism. It simply

demonstrates the point that

Indonesia isn't trying to turn its

back on this problem or pretend the

problem doesn't exist. They're

addressing it robustly and we can

addressing it robustly and we can be thankful to them for that. Mr

Downer, I apologise that we've had

technical difficulties. We've had

technical difficulties. We've had to do this interview on the telephone.

We'll try to come back to you as

soon as we can in the near future

and do this interview properly, but

we thank you anyway for taking our

call tonight. It's a pleasure. I'm