In response to a letter from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination raising concerns about lack of consent from the native title holders for the Adani mine, Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the UN should “respect the Australian legal system” instead of trying to direct Australia on matters it “clearly does not understand”.
This is an interesting approach considering these people are the experts and there is a court case about to go ahead on this very matter. Canavan is doing his best to get more coal mines and power stations happening while he can.
This is not the first time the Coalition government have told the UN to mind their own business and stop telling us what to do.
The Abbott government registered Australia’s opposition to a United Nations resolution ordering an end to ”all Israeli settlement activities in all of the occupied territories” with George Brandis saying ”The description of East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ is a term freighted with perjorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.”
Tony Abbott accused the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, of “talking through her hat” for suggesting there was a link between global warming and bushfires.
In response to the latest IPCC report on climate change, Scott Morrison said Australia would be spending no money on climate change conferences and “all that nonsense.”
“We are not held to any of the (IPCC recommendations), and nor are we bound by them,” Morrison insisted while the Deputy PM, Michael McCormack, said Australia will not be dictated to by “some sort of report.”
Despite not having read the report, our new environment minister, Melissa Price, suggested its 91 editors and authors had “drawn a long bow,” and insisted that Australia would meet its Paris targets.
Asked how, Price then cited the nearly depleted Emissions Reduction Fund, and two institutions that the Coalition has tried to scrap – the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – along with the government’s “investment in Snowy 2.0”. And something about “building” one billion trees, none of which explains, remotely, how the government intends to meet an economy-wide 26-28 per cent reduction in emissions, let alone a more ambitious target.
When the UN Committee on Torture slammed Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, warning harsh conditions in its offshore detention centres are causing serious physical and mental suffering and that Australia was in breach of its international obligations to refugees, Scott Morrison responded “Well, I don’t share their view. Australia’s border protection policies are made in Australia, nowhere else.”
A rebuke from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees regarding boat turnbacks, refoulement and the cover-up of allegations of mistreatment of asylum seekers by navy personnel was similarly dismissed with then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison saying he “completely disagrees” because the “policy is working”.
The government also tried to interfere with a case before the International Court of Justice into the bugging of parliamentary offices in Timor l’Este to gain commercial advantage by seizing raiding a lawyers office, seizing documents, and confiscating the passport of the whistleblower so he could not give evidence. They then argued unsuccessfully the court had no jurisdiction.
Australia exhorts the world to observe the rule of law and actively courts the kudos of being involved in UN bodies like the Security and Human Rights Councils but then tells them to go jump when the gaze turns on us. We like to pretend we are responsible global citizens by signing up to agreements that we then ignore when it suits us.
These are not the actions of transparent and accountable government. They are not the actions of people with integrity and a shared sense of responsibility. They are not what a reliable partner does.
They are the actions of a small mean greedy little place who says “Fuck you, Jack, I’m all right!!”
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