The Guardian July 30, 2003


Canberra's "Stupid White Men" are the problem,
not the solution

by Peter Symon

Troops and police from Australian and New Zealand and a sprinkling from 
several Pacific Island states have landed on Guadacanal, the principle 
island in the Solomons Islands. They are set to re-establish "law and 
order" Australian style.

The economic, political and social problems that the people of the Solomon 
Islands and many other nations of the Pacific Ocean face will not be solved 
by the policies that the Australian Government intends to impose.

These policies are not the solution, they are the problem. They are the 
failed policies that have created what are derogatively referred to as 
"failed states" by Western leaders and the media.

Geoffrey Barker writing in the Australian Financial Review (23/7/03) 
summed it up: "For years Australia has used its regional dominance to push 
Pacific nations towards the nirvana of free-market economic reforms: tariff 
cuts, private sector promotion, reduced government spending, more rigorous 
public accountability and investment transparency".

Dismal results

Barker recognises the disastrous results. He writes: "The results have been 
dismal in big countries like Papua New Guinea and Fiji; they have been non-
existent in smaller, poorer places like Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and 
Nauru."

Instead of accepting and recognising this truth, the Howard Government 
intends to continue to foist these policies on the Pacific Island states by 
military might.

This is the real agenda behind Howard's latest proposal to push for "pooled 
regional governance" of the Pacific Island nations.

Howard has questioned whether these "countries should have been given 
independence". Having raised this question it is inevitable that arguments 
will appear in the media that they should never have been granted 
independence by the former colonial powers and should not continue to exist 
as independent sovereign states.

Howard made it clear that acceptance of the Australian Government's plans 
will be a factor in determining future military intervention in other 
countries and allocation of overseas "aid".

He is reported as saying ominously that "Every case is different and you 
can 't normally act unless you're asked, particularly as the countries 
aren't posing any particular immediate threat".

The phrase "not normally act" implies that he would be prepared to act pre-
emptively even without any invitation from the target country.

The arc of instability

Writing in the Financial Review, (23/7/03) Laura Tingle says, "The 
arc of instability is seen to extend from Indonesia to New Zealand, taking 
in problem spots such as East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, the 
Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji".

In the eyes of the Australian Government, all of these countries are ripe 
for intervention and occupation by Australian military forces and 
administrators.

Private sector priorities

There are innumerable statements by Howard, Downer and other government 
representatives which prove that their principle objective is to 
recolonises and enforce economic rationalist priorities on all the Island 
states.

In August 2002, Howard said that the Island states must have law and order 
and security for people if they are "going to attract foreign investment 
and if they don't attract foreign investment in a globalised economy their 
living standards so far from rising run the risk of sinking further".

In August 1999, Alexander Downer told an audience at the Murdoch University 
that "good governance" meant, among other things, "support for sensible 
market-oriented economic policies."

In May 1998, the parliamentary secretary to Alexander Downer, Kathy 
Sullivan MP, told an audience of businessmen in Cairns that the role of the 
private sector ". involves divesting governments of activities which can be 
better conducted by the private sector". She said, "Many of the activities 
which Australia funds in the infrastructure and education sectors [in its 
aid programs], also contribute to private sector development."

Kathy Sullivan said that, "Reducing poverty and encouraging sustainable 
development are at the heart of all our overseas aid efforts".

The exact opposite is the result of the policies being imposed.

What did the people of Papua New Guinea gain from the BHP gold mine at Ok 
Tedi? Did their standard of living rise from the devastation of their 
timber resources by foreign logging companies?

Did the people of Bougainville prosper from the Panguna Copper Mine owned 
by CRA (Rio Tinto)?

Have the people of West Papua benefited from the huge mines operated by 
American investment at Westernport?

In all cases the answer is a resounding "NO". Quite the opposite. It meant 
death and destruction, theft of lands, war, poisoning of rivers and the 
environment, and the exploitation of people and resources.

Aid with strings

For some time the Australian Government used aid programs to enforce its 
economic policies. While continuing to use "aid" as a weapon, it now 
intends to use military force and the physical takeover of government 
operations in the Island states as well.

Military and police forces are already being trained for this purpose. At a 
press conference (22/7/03) Howard gave as an example of "aid" the "proposal 
that we trained police in Fiji for use in different parts of the region". 
This is nothing more than the preparation of a police force as mercenaries 
to be used to do Australia's dirty work "in different parts of the region".

In addition to the military and police forces sent to the Solomons there 
are also "45 law and justice bureaucrats and 20 other bureaucrats to set up 
budget and economic systems". (The Age 23/7/03)

The military, the police and the "justice" system of the Solomon Islands 
are to be controlled by Australian commanders and bureaucrats. The finances 
of the country's government are to be taken over by Australian managers.

Recolonisation

What is this if not colonialism? Their mission is to make the Solomons 
"secure" for foreign investors.

We are told that these "failed states" might provide a haven for drug-
runners, criminals and terrorists, that their governments are corrupt and 
they comprise an "arc of instability" to the north of Australia.

The arguments used to justify intervention in the Solomons will be recycled 
when the time comes to occupy Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Nauru or any 
other states.

The chairman of directors of Oil Search Ltd, Trevor Kennedy, writing in 
The Australian (22/7/03), complained that he had not received 
support for an oil pipeline project running from Papua New Guinea to 
Queensland.

"Maybe this adventure in the Solomons will change things. Let's hope so 
because political and economic conditions in the Pacific continue to 
deteriorate.", Mr Kennedy wrote.

In an attempt to frighten Australians into supporting his project he 
threatens: "What do you do if half a million of them turn up in their 
canoes on Cape York peninsula? A bit more preventive medicine is worth 
thinking about."

Obviously Mr Kennedy hopes that Australian troops will soon arrive in Papua 
New Guinea and make things "secure" for Oil Search Ltd.

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