International Relations Report, March 2018

By Georgina Pickers

NCWQ International Relations Adviser

It is regrettable that in one lifetime Australia’s heavy labour intensive manufacturing industries such as iron and steel making, shipbuilding s and car manufacturing have closed down or moved off-shore to cheaper labour markets, and yet we have a federal government enthusiastically promoting our defence and weapons manufacturing capabilities.

While these industries undoubtedly provide specialist jobs and export income wouldn’t international relations and global peace be better served if this type of science, technology and manufacturing was unessential?

The utter devastation of towns and cities in Syria and parts of Iraq defies comprehension. While the mounting civilian death and injury toll that includes many children draws criticism from the UN and NGO agencies it has little or no impact on the numerous forces and their covert backers.  In this complex geo-political struggle it is difficult to see what will be achieved when nothing is left except rubble.  The up serge of terrorist attacks in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia is further evidence that religious motivated terrorism continues to add to the turmoil, death and destruction.

The phenomenal ‘Me-too’ campaign has gone global.  It is finally exposing widespread sexual harassment in the workplace.  While highly publicised cases involving affluent Western white males have received wide exposure the frank discussions have raised awareness, helping to curb this ‘sense of entitlement’ behaviour is an affront to all women’s human rights.

Change the Day debate raised little commentary in Queensland although it was energetically advocated in other states.  While a minority of Australians may be offended by the marking of the first fleet’s arrival on the 26th January 1788 and ensuring impact on the ‘first people’ it cannot rewrite history or put rogjt past wrongs.  Using the day to reaffirm programmes or new initiatives to acknowledge and assist our marginalized sisters and brothers would have a more lasting and meaningful effect.

One must question the sanity of any person (outside of the military) who has a compelling need to buy, carry or use an automatic weapon.   In the wake of recent mass shootings (Florida High school and Las Vegas) America risks losing further global respect and credibility because of its’ government’s inability to legislate effective gun control.  To blame mass killings on the shooters mental state or other factors does not deal with the core problem.  That is, weapons of war have no place in the hands of ordinary citizens of any age or gender.  In the light of these recent events, the NCWA must robustly appeal to the Australian government and state councils to their respective state ministers NOT to relax our gun laws.  Further, to apply more pro-active measures to combat illegal importation, internet sales, trafficking and enforce strict authorised ownership of all types of guns.

The escalating readiness of police to use their guns when dealing with potential threat or harm is a worrying trend.

While the Queensland police have an Ethical Standards Command (ESC) it is an internal investigation.  When the majority of the population is not permitted to carry guns, the prudent use of guns by our police forces needs closer scrutiny.  An independent authority should be engaged to investigate instances of police action.  This is especially the case when mental health issues have triggered responses that might have been resolved by less lethal means.

The Gold Coast and South East Queensland  venues will host the Commonwealth Games in April this year.  The goodwill and contribution to international relations and peace cannot be under-valued   Sporting competition aside, the potential for generating return visits and even eventual immigration by those games visitors or competitors maybe a strong probability.

It was therefore not surprising that Border Security Minister Peter Dutton saw fit to publically warn all overseas attendees not to overstay their respective visa, just in case the Gold Coast seemed more like  a ‘paradise’ – not just a ‘surfers Paradise’ to those impressed visitors.

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