Sunday, June 01, 2003

In Australia this week, a former Governer-General Sir William Deane launched a stinging attack on the Howard Government and its handling of human rights, social and environmental issues.

Sir William said the Government had shrunk from the "challenge of justice and truth" and instead "sought advantage by inflaming ugly prejudice and intolerance." He went on to say that Australia would "surely lose its way" if future leaders ran the country as badly as the present Government.

In particular he singled out Australia's treatment of refugees at its Woomera detention centre, Howard's flat out lies in the run up to the 2001 elections about refugees throwing their children into the water and the Government's failure to safeguard the rights of two of its citizens who are being held in detention indefinately by the American Government without legal charge or process at Guantanamo Bay.

He also rapped the government over the knuckles for failing to sign the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gasses and for failing to address the growing gap between the haves and the have nots in Australia.

Why is this relevent to us I hear you ask? Because these are the policies of a conservative government, one that the likes of National, ACT and NZ First would like to emulate should they get into power. In fact National recently sent a number of members of its shadow cabinet on a fact finding mission to Australia to look at how the government there does things. I'm fairly open to the idea of free trade and all that, but I think these policies are one Australian import we can do without.