Security Council bid exposes insecurity

So, Australia has won a seat on the United Nations’ Security Council. How many of us feel like dancing in the streets to celebrate this rare stroke of good fortune? Hmm . . .  Not many of us felt the earth move, did we?

To hear many commentators tell this story, though, you would think Australia’s place in the world has been vindicated by this ballot win. We are told that our voice can now be proudly heard echoing along the corridors of power where the fate of the world is decided. Well, yippee-yi-yay!

Kevin Rudd started this kerfuffle some four years ago and his administration and Julia Gillard’s have spent $24 million on its pursuit since.  Bear in mind that many commentators said this was a nice idea by Kevin Rudd to provide a plum job for himself should he ever lose the prime ministership.  Glad he’s happy because this has cost us all around $500,000 each and every month since then.

And before anyone tells you this is really good for Australia’s image and reputation, just consider that  we beat Finland to get this gig and Rwanda also got elevated. Yes, that tinpot nation whose reputation is irretrievably mired in sordid sagas of atrocity is regarded as just as important as Australia. Aren’t you glad we spent $24 million?

Truly, if our views on any issues of global importance are valid and worthy then surely we can make them heard in all the myriad forums in which 98% of the world’s other nations get to air their views?

Does spending this much money to get a seat at the top table for two years impart any greater relevance or logic to our views on key issues? One can’t imagine it would. So, why have we pursued this goal so assiduously – and expensively?

Don’t forget that we currently spend a shade under 5 thousand million dollars on foreign aid each year. Foreign Minister, Bob, Carr, has projected this will rise to 7 thousand 7 hundred million dollars by 2015-16. In his view this will “contribute to real results in decreasing poverty in every region of the world”. Lovely stuff, eh? And, frankly, if that doesn’t qualify our views as worthy of being heard then maybe we should try silence for a while.

It’s regarded as unseemly to suggest a rich nation like Australia should in any way curtail our foreign aid. And that is a valid viewpoint. Yet we still need to ask what is wrong with our national priorities when so many of us live on Struggle Street and an unacceptably large number of young and old folk live hard without shelter. Something is amiss.

What is really out of kilter is an administration delivering such poor governance for our nation that its popularity languishes in the low 30s believing, apparently sincerely, that their voices should be heard to guide the future of the globe. Getting a seat at the table is one thing: having something intelligent to say is another. Just ask the boat people. Or the East Timorese. Or the Malaysians. Or the Indonesians. How good is our image when we have a government that believes it should guide global diplomacy but can’t even get neighbourhood relations right? A $24 million embarrassment.