28 Apr 2008


Thanks to an anonymous reader for the following email:

Your repeated demands for accountability are not likely to see much response until the next election comes into play. Across government departments, new Rudd appointees are warehousing evidence that may incriminate former Howard ministers (or themselves?) but nothing is going to be announced in a hurry.

DFAT staffers assume there is an office in Canberra where party apparatchiks are trawling the details, looking for ammunition they can use without burning their fingers. As you noted on Iraq, Rudd is walking a thin line: he doesn't want full-scale investigations on multiple fronts in the public eye, where who knows what might come out. Besides, as Tony Kevin recently noted in newmatilda.com, there is a lot of bureaucratic push-back going on.

Expect to see limited inquiries launched prior to the next election, with limited news leaks (just enough to damage the Coalition and win another three years. Don't expect significant change of government direction: inquiries will wind up without major charges, just some serious embarrassment to the old guard.

Don't expect significant shift on the US alliance either: a change in Washington will not change much of substance here. Budget and trade are the big priorities. Plus ca change...

Regards etc.

Here's a link to the article by Tony Kevin in New Matilda which my source references:
To be a good international citizen and actively committed UN member has returned as a major aim of Australian foreign policy.

But are sections of the Australian foreign policy and national security bureaucracies still living, by force of habit, in a world mainly defined by fear?...

Does Prime Minister Rudd want to turn the new orthodoxy around, to restore the kind of capable and often inspired professional foreign policy style that Australia enjoyed before 1996? Or have he and his ministers become so used to national security agencies' dominance of Australia's foreign policy, that they can't see how stultifying narrow and vision-limiting it is?

These questions are still unanswered. On border security, the war in Afghanistan, Defence strategic doctrine, regional and domestic counter-terrorism, South Pacific pol-mil interventionism, we still inhabit the politics of fear. It seems odd that while we are still in so many ways living in that world, Rudd seriously thinks we could be elected to a seat in the UN Security Council in 2012. He will be pushing uphill, I fear, unless he can bring about real cultural change at home.