For broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 13 Oct 2013.
In the five weeks since the federal election, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has demonstrated what many see as a radical new approach to foreign policy, best summarised by the classic image of the three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.
Suddenly, if we are to believe the government rhetoric, there are no human rights violations in our region, illegal whaling is non-existent, and free trade will save us all. The key regional issues of concern, highlighted by successive Australian governments in the past, have mysteriously disappeared. West Papua, Karen refugees on the Thai border, China’s human rights record, alleged ethnic cleansing of Sri Lankan Tamils, and more.
Mr Abbott’s smooth talk and silences mask the harsh realities many of our near neighbours face, and which Australia as a responsible global citizen has a moral and legal obligation to address.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.