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Gillard government's support for conference in Iran shows distortion of foreign policy for UN bid

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Senator Helen Kroger, Chief Opposition Whip, Liberal Senator for Victoria Senator David Fawcett, Liberal Senator for South Australia

18 October 2012

Gillard government’s support for conference in Iran shows distortion of foreign policy for UN bid

Senators Kroger and Fawcett today questioned DFAT officials about the attendance of two senior Australian officials - a special envoy of Prime Minister Gillard and our ambassador to the United Nations - at the Non-Aligned Summit in Tehran on 30 August.

Officials effectively confirmed that in deciding to send the senior officials they took no account of widespread international concerns that the conference would hand the Iranian regime a propaganda coup by undermining international efforts to isolate Iran.

Moreover the government did not reconsider after Iranian President Ahmadinejad made the incendiary public statement on 10 August that Israel's existence is an ‘insult to all humanity’.

Unlike Australia, the US, Canada and most other Western states sensibly did not send delegations to the conference. But Departmental officials tried unconvincingly to argue that it was not the case that Australia was unusual among Western countries in sending a delegation.

Australia’s attendance at the conference sends mixed messages about the government’s commitment to play its part in sending a strong message to Iran that it must abandon its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Clearly a higher priority for the government was to use the conference as another opportunity to lobby in support of its campaign for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. Such foreign policy distortions do not serve Australia’s true international interests and are another demonstration of Julia Gillard’s lack of judgment.