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Trancript of the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Security: Brisbane: London bombings; Jakarta embassy bombing; ASEAN Non-Aggression Pact; Terrorism.

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KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security


22 July 2005


Subjects: London bombings; Jakarta embassy bombing; ASEAN Non-Aggression Pact; Terrorism.

RUDD: Our hearts go out again to the people of London today who have suffered their second terrorist attack in two weeks. Fortunately, this terrorist attack appears to have been botched. The challenge for all of us, in Australia, in Britain and elsewhere, is to make sure that our practical separations against terrorist attacks are properly put in place. The challenge for the Federal Government is to make sure that when it comes to our transport infrastructure, our airports, our ports, our maritime ports, and other critical infrastructure, that we have all possible precautions put in place in terms of what can best be done to prevent terrorist attacks from occurring. On top of that, we need to make sure that our emergency services, our health services, our medical services, are properly geared up and prepared for any attack here in Australia against the terrible way that such an attack might occur.

The other thing I would like to talk about this morning is the conviction of one of those responsible for the bombing attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta last year. Last year I visited Jakarta with the Foreign Minister Mr Downer, a day following the attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta. This was a horrendous attack that attempted to murder Australians working for their country abroad, and an attack that resulted in the murder of innocent Indonesians that were assisting with the protection of our embassy, and the wounding and maiming of innocent bystanders in the street. As far as this conviction is concerned, it is good that a conviction has occurred. But let’s wait and see what happens with the other five who are yet to have their trials completed in Indonesia. Consider also that we still have the two masterminds responsible for the bombing attacks on Australia’s embassy in Jakarta still at large. This is a challenge for our law

enforcement agencies, in co-operation with our partners in Indonesia, to bring the masterminds of the Jakarta embassy bombing to justice.

I’d also note this: it is timely to again remind the Australian Government that we must ensure that we have a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy in place for South-East Asia. We need to fill in the gap which exists between police and intelligence and security co-operation across the region, to make sure that the gaps between border control systems are filled, and on top of that, to make sure that we have maximum capacity building between law enforcement agencies and other security agencies across the region. There are many holes and gaps in the system at present, and these need to be filled.

Finally, today we have a remarkable case of the Australian Government’s foreign policy at work. This is a case of foreign policy mismanagement at its worst when it comes to Australia’s relations with our major security and economic partners

in Asia. What we have is the Australian Government today, through the Malaysian Foreign Minister, confirming that we will now sign a Non-Aggression Pact with South-East Asia. Only three months ago, Prime Minister John Howard said that he would never, under any circumstances, sign such a Non-Aggression pact with South-East Asia. And the reason that he said that was because it was fundamentally in conflict with his doctrine of regional military pre-emption. Well, when it comes to a Government making up their foreign policy on the run, this is a classic case study.

It is also remarkable that we have a major u-turn and back-flip in Australian foreign policy announced not by the Australian Foreign Minister, but by the Malaysian Foreign Minister in Kuala Lumpur. It’s time for Mr Downer to have the guts to face the Australian people, explain why there has been this total back-flip and u-turn in Australian foreign policy, and the reasons for it. The Labor Party has been calling on the Government for more than six months to embrace this Non-Aggression Pact with South-East Asia as a necessary step for Australia being at the precedent of the first East-Asian summit in Kuala Lumpur this December.

REPORTER: [Inaudible]

RUDD: Well, for six months we have called upon the Howard Government to do this, and six months later, the Howard Government has responded to our pressure, and the pressure of governments in the region. Three months ago, Foreign Minister Downer ridiculed the Opposition for saying that signing this Non-Aggression Pact was a necessary step for Australia participating in the East-Asian Summit. Well, Mr Downer has had to eat his words. We have had this massive back-flip, and I have got to say, the worst case of foreign policy

mismanagement of our major relationships in Asia that I have seen in the period that I have been Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

REPORTER: Britain has been talking about introducing some pretty strong legislation against terrorism, for example, making in illegal for people to incite violence, do you think that that is something that we should be considering doing here?

RUDD: I have noticed what the Australian Prime Minister Mr Howard has said about this today. Mr Howard has said that he will examine Britain’s new counter-terrorism laws. As for the Australian Labor Party, we will adopt a positive and constructive approach to whatever proposal the Prime Minister puts on the table, and we will examine them based on their merits. If there is a strong and overwhelming case that such measures would try and provide a real additional set of measures to fight the war against terrorism here in Australia, then of course the Opposition would be adopting a constructive and positive approach.

REPORTER: Tony Blair has announced that they will be sending out (inaudible). Do you think that is a good idea?

RUDD: I welcome that decision by the British Prime Minister. And I think that the Prime Minister of Australia Mr Howard’s response to that is also to be welcomed. The bottom line is we can learn from one another at these very difficult times. But here is the challenge for Mr Howard: when it comes to national security, you can talk about national security all the time but the challenge here in Australia today is what you are doing about national security. What are you doing about the security about our metropolitan train systems? What are you doing about the security of our general metropolitan public transport systems? What are you doing about the security of our airports and our maritime ports and the security of our critical economic infrastructure such as power stations? The Howard Government must now audit the physical security measures which have been put in place across Australia, to our transport infrastructure and our other key transport infrastructure to make sure that all necessary measures are in place.

The second thing we must do is, against the horrible eventuality and possibility that there is a terrorist attack in Australia, we also audit the adequacy of our public hospital system, our medical systems, and our emergency response systems, to cope with such an attack. The Commonwealth Government must provide the Australian people with an assurance that all that can be done to specifically prepare for such an eventuality, has been done. And this visit, by this team from London, is a welcome step in that direction.

REPORTER: [Inaudible]

RUDD: It is a hard task of getting the balance right, but I have a fundamentally hard-line attitude when it comes to terrorism. And when it comes to terrorism, our approach is zero tolerance. Zero tolerance also for those who support terrorism. When it comes to the specific issues which the British Government has introduced and which Mr Howard has said that he is now examining, we adopt a constructive and positive approach to that and we will examine the proposal on its merits.

I would like to see the specific proposal that the Prime Minister will put on the table. As I have said we will adopt a constructive approach and examine that on its merits. We haven’t had the opportunity yet to examine in detail what the British Government has proposed, or in what areas of that the Australian Prime Minister thinks may be of use for Australia. But we will adopt a constructive approach, and examine both proposals on their merit.


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