elections, it is, I think, a great testament to the democratic transformation Indonesian republic. On security, so far so good in terms of the level of police and intelligence cooperation where the Australian Federal Police is concerned, but we in the future, as an alternative government, will want to broaden and deepen that level of security policy cooperation. Why, because Jamar Islameyer has already indicated that this is a primary sphere of operations for them.
SIMON How could New Zealand then best help you in that fight against terrorism?
MR.RUDD One of the differences we have with the Australian Government is how to effectively engaged the war against terrorism here in our own region, our own neighbourhood, our own back yard. We argue that for this to be successful has to have 2 prongs to it. First is hardening and deepening and broadening the cooperation between the police, the intelligence and security networks of the countries of the region and Australia . The second is this however, we are simultaneously engaged in a battle for hearts and minds. We must also, at the same time deal with the underlying social and economic conditions in South East Asia , which make it more attractive for these terrorist organisations to recruit. Therefore, how do you best engage that? In partnership with other countries like New Zealand and like the European union and like Japan, we would like to deepen and broaden our participation in education and employment programmes, as part of a much wider and broader development assistance programme with Indonesia. Specifically we’ve argued for a large scale programme which Australia would lead in international donor consortium to help rebuild the mainstream Indonesian education system to the extent that New Zealand can participate in that, we’d certainly welcome it.
SIMON Let’s go back and look at the 3 pillars of your proposed foreign policy, the first one being of course, an alliance with the US. What sort of a relationship with the US do you envisage? It could be said that it’s been, perhaps, going to be quite chilly given the comments that Mark Latham has made?
MR.RUDD Well we have a long history with the United States and a long, positive and productive history with the US . Let’s always remember, it was the Labor Government, which in the first place established the alliance with the United States back in 1941. We’ve been around this dance floor many times before in the intervening 63 years. There have been good times and there have been some challenging times. We’ve disagreed with the Americans in the past over Vietnam . We’ve disagreed with them most recently over Iraq . If you look at the broad areas where we have cooperated in and agreed with the United States over those 63 years, frankly they’ve put our areas of disagreement into some context. This is an overwhelmingly positive relationship and we, from our side, see working with the United States in the future as being demonstrably in the long-term interests of Australia . Intelligence cooperation globally in terms of the war against terrorism, effective equipment and resourcing for the Australian Defence Force and exercising opportunities for that so that we’ve got the best equipped defence force within our part of the world. On top of that, we argue that a US strategic presence in East Asia and the West Pacific, represents an overwhelming stabilising force as far as this regions long-term security is concerned.
SIMON What is your attitude then to John Howard’s positioning you as America ’s deputy sheriff?
MR.RUDD Well we think that was a particular act of foreign policy lunacy on the part of our Prime Minister. Why would you want to self describe yourself in those terms. It doesn’t reflect Australia’s traditional foreign policy, which has been one equally engaged as far as the region is concerned and instead sets you up as simply being a subset of US foreign policy. We don’t buy that approach one bit. You see for the Australian Labour Party and for a future Labour Government, the alliance with the United States does not mean automatic compliance with the United States on every item of US foreign policy. It never was that way in the past and it won’t be that way in the future.
SIMON Do you accept that America is the world’s policeman?
MR.RUDD The United States has a very large military capability available to it and represents an overall stabilising force in terms of global security.
SIMON Given its willingness then to act unilaterally, how relevant is the security council now?
MR.RUDD The security council remains fundamentally relevant. People who criticise the United Nations and the UN Security Council forget what the world was like before we had the United Nations and before we had the UN Security Council. Remember the norm prior to 1945 was that if you felt like invading a country one day, you just went ahead and did it. I think World War II represents an effective testament as to why that went fundamentally wrong in terms of the world’s overall security interests. The UN Security Council, the UN Charter itself and the provisions for collective security which hang off it, we think overall represent a very positive force in terms of stabilising the international political order and the international security order. Is it perfect? Of course not, but remember Churchill’s great criticism of democracy, the worst system of government in the world, except for all the others. The same could be said of the United Nations, it’s the worst system of international government in the world, except for all the others.
SIMON Phil Goff of course last week called for the security council to be revamped, saying it didn’t reflect a changed world order, what is your response?
MR.RUDD Well Phil and I have very similar views on this question and that is that the actual Charter itself needs to be looked at, particularly in terms of future challenges of international and humanitarian intervention. We are confronted at present with the real life challenge of the Sudan and Dafor, Western Dafor, but beyond that there is the question of the membership of the UN Security Council and the fact that a range of states who plainly exercise large global influence these days, are not adequately reflected in the membership of that body. We support an expanded membership of the council, without at this stage nominating who we think should go on. That would be presumptuous for an opposition, but beyond that we actually believe also that when it comes to equipping the council to deal with large scale humanitarian disasters in the future, that the upcoming report of the eminent person’s group appointed by Kofe Anan due by the end of this year, will be a very important document.
SIMON So the humanitarian side of it is vital from your perspective?
MR.RUDD It is vital. You cannot look at what’s happening in the Sudan at the moment and be indifferent to this matter. Obviously governments must now act bilaterally in providing whatever humanitarian assistance they can in terms of aide to the various non-government and governmental aide organisations seeking to bring about some relief to people currently in appalling circumstances in Western Dafor, but beyond that we have to look to the future and the council’s capacity to act in the face of demonstrable international humanitarian crisis where we fear that crimes against humanity and war crimes may be being committed. If you go back to those who founded the UN and who drafted the UN Charter in the first place, coming out of the ashes of the last World War, I think their vision for this great organisation is that it would be capable of acting in these circumstances as well. That is why the upcoming report by Kofe Anan’s eminent person’s group, of which Gareth Evans is a member, will be very important.
SIMON Given all of that humanitarian focus, does this suggest that you would have handled Tampa differently to John Howard?
MR.RUDD Well on the question of the Tampa , we believe that what Mr Howard did as far as his statement to the Australian people that quote, none of these people would ever land on Australian soil, was done for entirely domestic political purposes. Regrettably when it comes to Australia ’s recent political history, John Howard got away with that electorally. The truth is, many have now landed on Australian soil and in the interim what John Howard has done is expended hundreds of millions of dollars on a so called South Pacific solution, or Pacific solution, which resulted in, I think, in quite distorted aide relationships with both Nauru and Papua New Guinea . That sort of thing, frankly, on the Pacific solution, is not something we support for the future at all.
SIMON Specifically, how would you have handled Tampa ?
MR.RUDD Well I think for me as the alternative foreign minister of Australia now, it’s a question of how we handle our current engagement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, how we handle the remnants of the Pacific solution and how we craft a policy for the future, rather than going over the entrails of who should have done what when in terms of the Tampa debate three years ago.
SIMON Alright, just a one-off then, are you still committed to Australian troops being out of Iraq by Christmas?
MR.RUDD The policy we enunciated 6 months ago now stands and that is, as far as Australian combat troops are concerned, they should be withdrawn to Australia by Christmas and as for the security of our mission in Iraq, we’ve stated quite plainly that we would take the advice of the diplomatic security officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs at the time to ensure that our diplomats in the field were not placed in any jeopardy.
SIMON Let’s put security to one side, what are the biggest regional issues facing the extended region currently?
MR.RUDD In South East Asia ?
SIMON South East Asia and going across to Australasia ?
MR.RUDD Well we’ve spoken already in this discussion about terrorism, let’s put that to one side. More broadly what people tend to forget is this greater region of the Asia Pacific region currently contains within it, large unresolved territorial disputes, each of which is capable of engendering large scale security policy challenges. The Korean Peninsula is one, the Taiwan Straits is the second, India , Pakistan over Cashmere is the third. These are very important matters which require the closest possible scrutiny on the part of governments, particularly those concerned about the long-term security of our region.
SIMON What about in Australasia ?
MR.RUDD Within wider Australasia , your question was about security?
SIMON Beyond security, what are the biggest regional issues?
MR.RUDD I misunderstood your question. I thought we were just talking about security. In terms of the broader region, of course this is an enormous area of opportunity. Security is fundamental, but beyond security its principle purpose is to create the conditions within which people can develop their economies and get on with raising living standards across the wider region, including in our part of the region, here as far as the Trans-Tasman countries are concerned. In the rest of the region I’ve got to say, if you looked at any long-term projection of the Indian and Chinese economies, economies such as ours, Australia and New Zealand have no alternative but to be fully engaged with the upcoming economic opportunities delivered by their long-term growth. The 21 st century will be the Asian century when it comes to the global economy. Our challenge in Australia, and I know the New Zealand Government is fully seized with this, is to be in there, up front and fully engaged with these new economic opportunities.
SIMON Can you give me some specifics?
MR.RUDD Well when it comes to China ’s long-term economic needs, plainly China was going to have large needs when it comes to various primary commodities. When it comes to its energy needs, when it comes to its coal needs, when it comes to its natural gas needs, when it comes to its iron ore needs, but beyond that, with the expansion of China’s manufacturers, particularly in textiles, clothing and footwear, I would see expanded opportunities for both the Australian and New Zealand wool industries as well. Frankly if you go to China and you look at what is happening there, and I’ve lived and worked in China in the past and I have been engaged in the China business for the last 25 years. The opportunities for both of our economies are enormous and if we are effectively engaged as governments in this and bring our private sectors along with us, can I say Australia and New Zealand will have a strong economic future in terms of our ability to effectively engage the opportunities which China opens up to us.
SIMON I’ll just put this into perspective for our audience, of course you are a former diplomat to Beijing and you are a fluent Mandarin speaker and a passionate student, I believe, of the Chinese situation. Does this mean that you have some envy of New Zealand forging closer trade links with China ?
MR.RUDD Not at all. I think New Zealand has just been very good. If you look at New Zealand trade diplomacy around the world, you’ve always got to admire the Kiwis with what they get up to and they are very effective at it. Full marks to the government in Wellington .
SIMON You’ll be seeking to do the same?
MR.RUDD Well when it comes to the same, that assumes that we are going to mimic every aspect of New Zealand trade.
SIMON Similar then?
MR.RUDD All I can say is that New Zealand will row its own race and in my experience in the past, rows it very well. When it comes to us rowing our own race with the principle economies of our region, principally China and India and also the continuing importance of Japan , the challenge ahead for an Australian Labor Government is to do better in this field. We believe on the back of strong bilateral political relationships, with the major economies of the region, Japan, China and India and secondly, through broadening the economic relationship, that we can actually gain a much greater and decisive advantage for Australian living standard in the future. New Zealand seem to be doing pretty well on this score. I hope we do as well in the future.
SIMON So you will be pursuing bilateral deals quite aggressively. What is your attitude to a multi-lateral arrangements?
MR.RUDD Well we believe that the overwhelming benefit to our economy will be delivered by successful outcome of the current trade round, that is the multi-lateral trade round, the Doha round. We want to see through that, significant advances on agriculture. That will advantage both Australia and New Zealand . I think one area where Australia has dropped the ball globally is being an effective leader of the Khans group of agricultural producing nations. In times past, previous successes in terms of agricultural trade liberalisation, through the WTO and prior to that through the gatt, have been achieved on the basis of strong Australian leadership of the Khans group. It’s not called the Khans group for nothing. What we’ve seen in recent times however, I think, is an Australian conservative government with its eyes off the ball when it comes to the current WTO round and leadership of the Khans group and instead the bulk of this government’s energy is being directed instead on a range of bi-lateral FTA’s, most recently with the United States. We believe that bi-lateral FTA’s are useful as building blocks and as reinforcers of global trade liberalisation, but the huge dividends for economies like New Zealand’s and Australia’s, in my view, lie through effective prosecution of multi-lateral trade liberalisation. If you are smaller economies in the world, as is the case with Australia and New Zealand , you tend to do better with global trade liberalisation which has to take into account trade rules for all economies. If you engage in bi-lateral deals, the smaller economy tends to end up with a less desirable outcome in terms of the rules which are struck.
SIMON The great success of course of the Doha round in Geneva a couple of months ago was the agreement to scrap agricultural subsidies, how will that go down in Australia ?
MR.RUDD Well let’s wait to see how all this shakes down. I have seen some of the pronouncements from Brussels . I’ve seen some of the counter-pronouncements from various European capitals. What I’ve learnt through my experience and observation of trade diplomacy over the years is that it’s not over until the fat lady sings. This has got a way to go yet.
SIMON You have a lot of farmers, primary providers who are struggling on the land and reliant on subsidies?
MR.RUDD Well I think on this one, both in terms of national policy response, but also at the end of the day what Brussels actually does in those negotiations, what they actually deliver at the end of the day, the jury is still out and I’d rather not.
SIMON Wait for the numbers?
MR.RUDD I’d rather not get into the business of predicting what a particular policy response on our part should be. It’s still a long way to go.
SIMON Your attitude to the FTA with the US ?
MR.RUDD Well with the United States we’ve always said that we would judge a free trade agreement with the United States based on the best outcome for the Australian long-term and national economic interest. We believe we’ve got that balance about right in the end by forcing Mr Howard to engage in some changes at the end, changes concerning the pharmaceutical benefits scheme here in Australia and changes also concerning our local content rules for Australian culture and media. We managed to extract those changes from Prime Minister Howard and those changes were reflected in legislation which was put through the Australian parliament. The prime minister didn’t like that, but we believe by forcing those changes on him, we’ve got a much better deal for Australia .
SIMON If you are successful at the polls, will you be seeking more change?
MR.RUDD We’ve indicated that the deal that we’ve struck from our point of view is sufficient. We would hope that these negotiations would now be concluded as far as America ’s satisfaction with the legislative amendments which have been put through our own parliament. We would not be seeking to reopen those.
SIMON Let’s conclude the interview by asking you, beyond foreign affairs, how would a Latham government, and this is for the benefit of the New Zealand viewer, how would a Latham government differ from the John Howard version?
MR.RUDD Well we see ourselves as a genuinely modern, progressive, open government. Australia under John Howard has been, frankly, a government which has had its intellectual and philosophical framework in 50’s Australia . We actually believe it’s time to take this country into the 21 st century. It’s time also that when it comes to engaging the world, that we don’t enter the world with one hand tied behind our back all the time. John Howard has always been equivocal about the questions of comprehensive engagement with Asia . He’s always been equivocal about the United Nations. On the home front as well, Australians like New Zealanders want to have decent access to health systems that work and education systems that work and that are affordable for working families. The labor movement for 100 years or so in this country has sought to construct a social contract between government and the governed, based on fairness. Fairness has had the meat axe taken to it by the Howard government for the last 6 or 7 years. Ask people whether they can afford decent health care and decent education services these days and you’ll find that the answer is a highly qualified one, so fairness at home, but also taking, I think, a great Australian labor message of fairness to the world as well and what we’d seek to do to Australian foreign policy.
SIMON Mark Latham has been very fond of using the term outsider, painting himself as an outsider and that the Labor Party is acting on behalf of the outsider. Is that what you are? Is it the party representing the outsider seeking fairness?
MR.RUDD We see ourselves very much as a party offering the ladder of opportunity to all Australians. We don’t simply believe that you mandate quality by government theatre, you don’t. What we see government as providing enabling opportunities for all Australians to get on with their lives. Each rung of the ladder of opportunity, whether it’s a decent early childhood education system, decent primary schools, decent secondary schools, decent universities, decent training and technical colleges and further training, but overall, ensuring that we’ve also got decent healthcare. Each of these form rungs in the ladder of opportunity which make it possible for working Australians to get on with their lives. I grew up in a working environment, so did Mark. We didn’t have much to start with, but it was the reforms of earlier Labor governments, principally Goff Witlam and subsequently Hawke and Keegan, which made it possible for us to get on with our lives. We’d like to do that for the next generation of Australians as well.
SIMON Labor spokesman for foreign affairs Kevin Rudd, thank you very much for your time.
MR.RUDD It’s good to be with you.
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