By Tracie Aylmer
As many are aware, I relish the International Criminal Court. In my quest to see key politicians accountable for their actions, I decided to research how much money was being paid by Australia – as a member of the Rome Convention – to the International Criminal Court.
I’m not sure if anyone is aware but when a country signs up to a particular international treaty they are bound to pay a type of membership fee each year, depending on the treaty. Australia pays the United Nations the most amount, due to the UN Charter, of around $60 million per year according to the 2013/14 figures on the DFAT website. Many other treaties are paid a lesser amount, and payments are made for various international tribunals. This includes the Rome Statute.
The figure is based upon a Scale of Assessment determined by the United Nations. Australia must pay 2.337% of gross national income for each year from 2016 to 2018. The figure is then recalculated in future years. This is how the amount of $60 million is calculated.
For the ICC, the scale for determining how much is calculated for payment to the ICC each year is the same. Australia is supposed to pay the same percentage of the overall budget to the ICC. There are adjustments that can be made, which usually centre whether a country is helping the UN to pay peacekeepers and the like in other countries.
The ICC is in deep financial trouble. Their budget for 2016 is around $136 million, however the request for funds was around $16 million higher in order for the prosecutor to be more effective. It had to be toned back as some countries aren’t paying, or are paying late. Half of that is paid by the UN. The other half must be paid from the members that signed and implemented the Rome Convention.
In 2013/14, Australia paid the ICC $200,001 into their trust fund. They then paid a further $200,001 into the trust fund for victims. That was the total amount that Australia felt obliged to pay. With so many other countries unable to pay due to being poverty stricken, one would have thought that Australia would have been able to pay the permanent international court of last resort a little bit more. While Australia had paid millions of dollars for UN peacekeeping in unstable areas of the world during that financial year, it would have been reasonable to also pay for the court that would be holding the proceedings against the perpetrators in those unstable areas. The amount Australia has paid, in order for justice to be preserved, is a pittance.
In September 2013, Julie Bishop gained responsibility of the foreign affairs portfolio. She is also the one who pushed John Howard into signing the Rome Statute for the ICC back in 2001/2. One would have thought that she would be a tenacious defender at later dates of the ICC. Barely a whimper has been heard, nor do many people understand it. Not only have we signed up to it at the commencement of the court, but we have domestic legislation detailing the ICC. In addition, our federal Criminal Code Act has been amended, to include genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Chapter 8.
So we have signed up for the ICC, and include it in our domestic legislation, yet take the minimum care with it.
Our budget for 2013/14 explains a lot about the direction we would have taken if Labor stepped back into power. The intention for us internationally was complex. On the one hand, we would pay for a nuclear test ban treaty, and on the other we would pay much more for an atomic energy agency. Paying for the Wassenaar Agreement was another thing altogether. I am told that this is not actually a binding agreement, but enables around 41 countries to regulate arms and other war materials. Slightly more information about this agreement is found here. In 2013/14, we paid $73,135 towards it.
Domestically, the 2013/14 budget was slightly fairer to the working or disadvantaged person. Non-government schools would not have been paid more than job seekers. Health was important. Expenses appeared in many ways quite reasonable.
As comparison, I checked the 2016/17 budget. It was an eye opener. Non-government schools have received more than job seekers. Unemployment and underemployment have definitely risen in the past three years with the Liberals at the helm, yet the expense for job seekers has only slightly risen, by not even $1 billion. One would have expected a much higher rise, considering the current environment. Expenses for Indigenous health have decreased, rather than increased. Other areas for disadvantage have also decreased. Considering our population is growing, this is not a good thing. In addition, non-government schools would be paid nearly double of the government school budget.
In addition, other expenses in Table 3 of the budget for 2016/17 have risen by over $15 billion from the budget for 2013/14. Explanations have been that the states and territories need to be handed GST (which is true). However, the states and territories are screaming out for money in order to fund services.
The defence budget has also increased, by more than $5 billion. I have already spoken about where much of defence spending has gone – to Transfeild/Broadspectrum. Page 5 of Transfield’s 2014/15 budget have stated that they will be guaranteed around $17 billion in total. Meanwhile, our defence is actually suffering. I have been told from someone who volunteered for defence that there are actually very few numbers of defence personnel. All other staff were services staff from other organisations, namely Transfield.
For our international budget, payments to international organisations have nearly doubled from the 2013/14 budget to the 2016/17 budget. Considering there is now no information that we can see with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to later periods of time than 2013/14, one can wonder how such a jump could occur. The fact that these figures are now hidden away from us is telling. My mind wonders if international organisations are being paid off in tens of millions of dollars in a type of bribe. For this government, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Road transport expenses have nearly doubled, adding nearly $4.5 billion to the expenses of 2016/17. This of course would significantly help the major organisations that the Liberal Party are mates with. Indefinite detention has increased the cost, by $871 million. This includes ‘border protection’. The fact that there needs to be such an incredible amount spent in the first place on detention has always confused me. Malcolm Fraser was right in treating the Vietnamese with respect and processing them quickly. It cost his government much less to do so. It costs this government, and therefore us, an amount that could be used for our own services, and the figures show exactly that.
In total, there has been an approximate $50 billion increase in expenses from 2013/14 to 2016/17. The opposition has been correct in saying that there is a spending problem, rather than an income problem. However, it’s how the money has been spent is an even bigger problem for us. Nationalising us is the main agenda, as written by Dr George Venturini. Financially, this proves Dr Venturini’s point about fascism.
The fact that we don’t know exactly where our money is going in relation to some areas should be a scary concept. There is no accountability with this government that wants to rampage against Australians for their own apparent benefit. The figures obviously show a vast difference between the haves and have nots.
Using these budget figures, it’s quite obvious that there won’t be any ‘jobs and growth’ in the near, or far, future.
This is the time to vote for other parties, and leave the Liberal National Coalition in the dust. They have no idea about how to spend taxpayer’s money wisely, other than for their own desires.
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