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Howard recommits to regional military pre-emption.

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KEVIN RUDD Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Relations 23 June 2005


In Parliament today Prime Minister Howard formally recommitted his Government to a doctrine of regional military pre-emption.

Under this doctrine, the Australian Government has declared it is prepared to launch a military attack in certain circumstances against the sovereign territory of Australia’s neighbours in South East Asia.

This declaration of regional military pre-emption comes at a time when Australian Government officials are busy running around the region trying to reach agreement with ASEAN officials on specific forms of language to make it possible for Australia to sign the ASEAN friendship treaty.

The ASEAN friendship treaty precludes armed action against the countries of ASEAN and is therefore incompatible with any doctrine of unilateral military pre-emption.

Furthermore, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers have stipulated that signing the friendship treaty is a necessary precondition for Australia attending the first East Asian Summit in December - a Summit which is likely to lead to the establishment of an East Asian Community.

John Howard articulated his doctrine of regional military pre-emption prior to the last election for domestic political purposes. When he did so, there was universal condemnation from our friends in South East Asia.

Hopefully John Howard’s fresh articulation of his doctrine of regional military pre-emption today will not hinder Australia’s efforts to participate in the first East Asian Summit.

However when Australia does sign the ASEAN friendship treaty, the terms of that treaty will effectively undermine Howard’s continuing position on military pre-emption.

Ends . 23 June 2005