As we’re coming up to the Chinese New Year of the Rooster I’ve named my three new hens after former Australian Prime Ministers: Fisher, Curtin and Chifley. Not to help the hens forge new gender identities (I’d miss the eggs) but to inspire them to enter politics. It’s time for species equality in politics and hens are ideal Prime Minister material – focused, conscientious and productive, in touch with the grass roots and possessing all the qualities needed for success in the Year of the Rooster. The hens’ policies, as I understand them, are few, but then so few policies get past the Senate this shouldn’t be a problem.
The hens have expressed their intention to repair some of the ravages of what they disparagingly describe as ‘fox politics’, characterised by aggression, greed, deceit and lawlessness, particularly in relation to foreign policy affecting our neighbours. In the news at the moment are the issues of determining a maritime boundary between Timor-Leste and Australia, and continued recognition of Indonesia’s duplicitous annexation of West Papua. The problems associated with these issues have both arisen as a result of aggressive fox politics.
Establishing a fair maritime boundary between two countries really shouldn’t be a problem if both are prepared to accept rulings by the International Court of Justice on maritime issues, and also the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea However Australia withdrew from the ICJ on maritime issues, and also the ITLOS in 2001. It’s generally accepted that Australia did this to avoid an ICJ or ITLOS ruling on the Timor Sea boundary issue, which would almost certainly have been in favour of a boundary along the median line. (Australia has been claiming a large share of the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea on the basis that the maritime boundary should be established in relation to Australia’s continental shelf). Australia had in the past appealed to ITLOS, which invoked the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to stop illegal fishing in Australian waters, and the perception that Australia submits to international law only when it suits it is not a good look. Australia really has been playing fox politics with its small, war-ravaged neighbour, starting with Australia’s acceptance of the Indonesian invasion in 1975, then profiting by this recognition by negotiating a treaty that disregarded the rights of the Timorese under Indonesian occupation, then negotiating subsequent treaties after Timor-Leste gained independence that were blatantly unfair to a much smaller and poorer country, and finally bugging the Timorese offices in order to gain an advantage when negotiating the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea. Now, with the scrapping of the CMATS treaty Australia has the opportunity to rise above fox politics and accept a maritime boundary in accordance with international law, and a fair division of oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea, without attempting to disadvantage Timor-Leste by tactical delaying or stalling.
And now West Papua. The Australian government plays fox politics here too with the long-term acceptance of Indonesia’s de facto invasion. No one in their right mind could accept the ‘Act of Free Choice’ that gave West Papua to Indonesia as anything other than a brutal, undemocratic sham (Only 1,025 Papuans, selected by the Indonesian military, and subjected to extreme duress were allowed to vote on whether to accept integration into Indonesia). However, Indonesia, realising how shaky its legal claim to West Papua is, requires constant reassurance that Australia recognises Indonesia’s sovereignty. The hens think that it is fox politics to continue to pretend that the ‘Act of Free Choice’ was a legitimate basis to takeover a country and that as a member of the UN that rubber-stamped this mockery of justice, Australia should now campaign for the fair referendum that West Papuans are owed.
On the domestic front, voting hens into Parliament would see an end to the out-of-control rorting by politicians. No hen has ever claimed travel expenses for attending a party or a sporting event.
A recent Spectator article referred to chooks coming home to roost as a result of past government policies -what better place for them to roost than Parliament House?