10 October 2003

Governor-General's Address to RUSI

The second matter for possible discussion - and this has already been recognised by the Government - is to take the opportunity to support reform of the Security Council of the United Nations.

It seems to me that if the world does not want a superpower of the day to take unilateral or multilateral action against threats that it perceives to be inimical to its national interest, then the UN must be given the authority and the appropriate tools to ensure that human rights and the dignity of the individual under Article 10 are maintained.

In time, this may require the UN to consider cooperative, interventionist action in potential or active trouble spots with a view to pre-empting the genocidal bloodbaths that we have witnessed in parts of Africa, Europe, the Middle East and, indeed, our own region.

It may well be that the East Timor and Solomon Islands examples will provide possible models for UN intervention.

A third consideration is to continue to develop, maintain and strengthen links and dialogue with strategic-partner countries - such as the United States.

We share many values with the US, and we have mutually reinforcing interests - interests that, importantly, needn't conflict with our building up strong relations with countries, such as Indonesia, in our more immediate region.

While His Excellency's opinions are not all that unreasonable, this is a direct endorsement of government policy. It is improper in a neutral head of state. I took voices opposed to this appointment with a grain of salt. I was wrong.

The offence is compounded because the government has seen fit to endorse the political opinions of the governor-general. I am beginning to think we need a new governor-general. Again.

At least I fought down the temptation to name this item after Donald Horne's seminal work, His Excellency's Pleasure.

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