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The Road to Xanadu an A-Z guide on the occasion of the foreign minister's first anniversary in office



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V MEDIA RELEASE THE S E N A T E

SENATOR ROBERT HILL SH AD O W MINIS I ER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

5 September 1989

THF. ROAD TO XANADU

AM A- 7. GTTTDE ON THE OCCASION OF THE FOREIGN MINISTER'S FIRST ANNIVERSARY IN OFFICE

The Foreign Minister has just completed one year in office.

Commenting on the anniversary, the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Robert Hill described the past year as one of "considerable effort but confused priorities and few achievements".

Senator Hill said that as the bureaucratic machine will be working up a gloss on the Minister's performance and the Fabian Society is releasing a book of his speeches, the following

reminder of less notable successes might assist those seeking to make an objective assessment of his performance.

A; AID

The Foreign Minister presides over an aid budget which is now the lowest in Australia's history and reduced yet again in the recent Budget.

Aid priorities remain confused as demonstrated by the fact that the Minister announces another $110 million in aid to Southern Africa at the same time as he reduces aid to the South Pacific.

R; BIjENKTNSOP

Between the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, the handling of the unfortunate shooting of David Blenkinsop in Indonesia was a saga of diplomatic mismanagement.

Senator Evans failed to raise the matter with the Indonesian Foreign Minister when they met in New York. The Prime Minister then attacked Indonesia in most intemperate terms without first having obtained the correct facts which were just then being broadcast publicly courtesy of the BBC.

Ci CUBA

In June 1989 the Foreign Minister announced the formal accreditation of an Australian Ambassador to Havana, stating on the occasion, "Cuba's international role has a direct bearing on Australian foreign policy interests in several key areas..."

An interesting development, especially as the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Kiribati are yet to enjoy diplomatic representation in Australia, the Hawke Government having refused for six years to provide money that would allow a

shared diplomatic mission to open in Canberra. Further evidence of confused priorities.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LI3RARY MICAH

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D: DEFENCE DRIVEN FOREIGN POLICY

Senator Evans' foreign policy has been and continues to be dictated by the priorities and strategic perceptions of his more robust colleague the Minister for Defence.

There is now a belated attempt by Senator Evans to provide a strategic contribution but the vacuum has been filled.

E: ECONOMIC COOPERATION

In the seven months since the Government announced its so called "new initiative" on Asia-Pacific regional economic cooperation, major diplomatic efforts have been required just to keep the proposal afloat.

ASEAN continues to voice severe reservations about the scheme; New Zealand favours PECC rather than a new regional body; the US may still dominate the planning of the grouping; Japan may yet promote MITI's favoured plan; and the dispute over who

should or should not be members continues to be both public and damaging.

The Foreign Minister continues to proclaim that Australia will go along with what everybody wants. The danger of course is that if the Foreign Minister does not know what he is

proposing, he cannot complain if the outcome does not serve Australia's foreign policy interests.

The on/off again invitation to Hong Kong to attend the November meeting was particularly disappointing as it demonstrated that this trade body will be primarily politically driven.

F: FIJI

The Foreign Minister's on/off/on again visit to Fiji last year produced only a very public and very embarrassing snub from General Rabuka.

The Foreign Minister may also wish to blot from memory his extension of a $10 million "special economic assistance" package to Fiji on the basis of "progress" on Fiji's draft Constitution. That package of course, had to be stopped a few months later when the "progress" proved to be illusory.

G: GREECE

Under Senator Evans, Australia dispenses aid to Greece, itself an aid donor on the OECD list and a member of the European Community, suggesting that the Minister must be ignorant of the income status of Greece.

Hi HELICOPTERS FOR PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Having raised PNG's expectations by agreeing to provide helicopters in the even more sensitive context of operations along the PNG-Indonesia border, the Hawke Government was caught

out when PNG requested immediate delivery for use in

Bougainville to transport troops and supplies and evacuate the wounded.

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T.: LIBYA

Three Victorian Labor MPs, following an "inspection" of the exterior of a suspected Libyan chemical weapons factory from 400 metres in fading light, pronounced themselves satisfied that it was merely a pharmaceuticals factory.

Where he should have exposed the trip as the farce which it was, and countered effectively the Labor participants' pronouncements on the benign nature of the facility, Senator Evans' representative was conspicuously muted.

M; MYANMAR

Senator Evans has not demonstrated a high level of concern for human rights violations in Myanmar.

In fact, the Foreign Minister reacted to the outcry against the killings and gross human rights violations in Myanmar by being the first country to resume aid to General Saw Maung's regime, a move condemned bitterly by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Opposition

leader, who is presently under arrest.

Senator Evans' continuing failure to appreciate the events in Myanmar was amply demonstrated when he issued a press release proclaiming that the election program was in place at the same

time as martial law was in operation, Opposition leaders were being locked up and all communications with the country had been cut.

Ni NICARAGUA

Last month, the Foreign Minister announced the appointment of an Honorary Consul to Nicaragua, only the second Australian Honorary Consul appointment in history.

One might well ponder on the significance of Nicaragua to Australia and debate the move as a reflection of Senator Evans' priorities.

Oi OYSTER

Senator Evans' efforts to suppress materials in Oyster are reminiscent of his eagerness late at night to obtain an injunction to stop the printing of a non-existent article in "The Eye".

Pi PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Despite the Governments very public anguish over the Tiananmen Square massacre and subsequent executions, the fact remains that by comparison with the European Community, Japan and Canada, the Government, on the advice of Senator Evans, failed to take effective diplomatic and other actions to give

substance to its collective tears.

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As trouble in Bougainville had been brewing for at least six months prior to the reguest, the Foreign Minister cannot claim points for anticipation.

The conflicting statements between Senator Evans (who wanted a large ball of strings attached) and the Minister for Defence (who wanted the helicopters dispatched full speed) did nothing to inspire PNG confidence in Australia.

T t TNDO—ΓΗΤΝΑ

The legacy of the Labor Government will be one of failure to influence or assist in the resolution of the conflict in Indochina, particularly Cambodia.

Having inherited the disapproval of regional neighbours over his predecessor's misguided efforts to single-handedly bring peace to Indochina, the Foreign Minister contributed his own foot to the process in the form of a declaration in July this year that Australia would accept a "partial settlement" in

Cambodia. This he repeated in Paris as a claimed "new

initiative". It later emerged that the Foreign Minister's inspiration had been John Le Carre's latest spy thriller "The Russia House".

The Foreign Minister failed to recognise that a Cambodian settlement could not be achieved without reconciliation of the four Khmer factions and that if this had been the principal objective of the international conference more might have been achieved. Now not only is the aggressor, Vietnam, rewarded but also the likelihood of accelerated civil war after Vietnam's withdrawal.

J: JUNKETS

The Foreign Minister's travels do appear to have more relevance than those of his predecessor but he has not had the courtesy to report to the Parliament on even one of his many journeys. Even the Prime Minister extends such courtesies.

K; KIWI

If there is any country in the Asia-Pacific region with which Australia should enjoy the closest commonalty of interests and perceptions, it is New Zealand.

Senator Evans' failure to develop relations with New Zealand was particularly demonstrated by the fact that he was given no prior notification of then Prime Minister Lange's announcement of New Zealand's renunciation of ANZUS.

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Q: QUAGMIRE

Whilst one might argue about the Dibb Report and the White Paper put down by Defence Minister Beazley, at least there is a public basis on which defence decisions are made. In his first year in office, Senator Evans has failed to put down in the Parliament any overview of Australia's foreign relations, goals

and priorities. This has no doubt led to some of the apparent confused priorities in the decision making process. He does not however have a high standard to reach as his predecessor only made one such parliamentary contribution in five years in office.

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R: RAROTONGA TREATY

The Foreign Minister has continued to push the Treaty of Rarotonga or the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (SPNFZ) in spite of the fact that the Treaty as currently worded may be in conflict with the ANZUS Treaty.

Furthermore, in continuing his expectation that the United States would ratify the SPNFZ Treaty, he has totally

misunderstood the United States' assessment of its strategic responsibility.

S: SOLOMON ISLANDS

The state of our relations with our South Pacific neighbours received eloquent testimony recently when the Foreign Minister was snubbed yet again, this time by the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands (see also F: Fiji).

Ti TAIWAN

The Government continues to act out an unnecessary and expensive charade in its dealing with Taiwan. It establishes a third airline (to be called Australia Asia Airways!) to fly to Taiwan, when on any given day in Taipei one may see KLM,

Malaysian Airline, Philippine Airline, Singapore Airline, Thai International, all national airlines of countries which like Australia do not recognise Taiwan.

Ut USSR FISHING AGREEMENT

Having expended considerable diplomatic efforts in convincing South Pacific governments not to enter into fishing agreements with the Soviet Union, Senator Evans continues to negotiate with the USSR on Australia's behalf towards the signing of a

fishing agreement. No wonder Australia's credibility in the eyes of its neighbours remains low.

V: VIETNAM

Senator Evans' misguided attempt to please his Vietnamese hosts recently by wearing a Ho Chi Minh badge whilst on tour insulted the memory of hundreds of Australian servicemen killed in Vietnam. His pro-Vietnam position in Indochina negotiations

continues to worry ASEAN.

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Wi WIIiENSKI

Senator Evans authorised the delivery of Australia's statement by Ambassador Wilenski to the UN containing a one-sided critique of Israel's human rights record. The necessity of public intervention by the Prime Minister was embarrassing to Australia and affected our standing in international affairs

detrimentally.

X; XANADU

In Xanadu did Gareth E A stately presence decree Where policies would be clear And actions rigorous, right and resolute

But oh! the hand of fate that was Pricked the bubble of GE's dream A nightmare it turned out to be Of Fiji, Oyster, Kiwis, Hawke and ... Xanadu t'wasn't, Hell t'was to be.

(with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Y : YUGOSLAVIA

Senator Evans' presence in Belgrade reminds us of his handling late last year of the shooting of an Australian youth outside the Yugoslav Consulate in Sydney.

It remains a legal curiosity how a consulate employee with no diplomatic immunity - and thus subject to the laws of this country - was permitted to leave Australia unprosecuted, in the company of diplomats whose consulate was closed down in order to permit the offender to return to a hero's welcome in

Belgrade.

ZI ZEMSKOV

The departure of Soviet Minister/Counsellor Valeriy Zemskov on 12 February 1989 was occasion for the sobering thought that Zemskov, a confirmed high ranking member of the "Special Reserve" of the KGB, had had three full years of access to top Australian politicians, business and community leaders.

The Foreign Minister may not want to be reminded that the Hawke Government had allowed Zemskov into the country against ASIO's specific advice that Zemskov was a confirmed KGB spy and could

be expected to fulfil a KGB role in Australia. Two years later when Zemskov was publicly revealed as a KGB agent, he was not expelled because of fears that the action would jeopardize Soviet Prime Minister Ryzhkov's visit!

Contact: Senator Robert Hill (062) 773765