Saturday 02 Jul 2022 | 14:30 | SYDNEY
Saturday 02 Jul 2022 | 14:30 | SYDNEY

Could an international crisis sink the new government?


Sam Roggeveen


8 September 2010 11:21

Yesterday's post on the foreign policy implications of the Labor-led minority Government was pretty relaxed in tone, and I would maintain that, in the normal day-to-day running of the nation's foreign policy, the independents and Greens will have marginal influence, except to perhaps make the Government more timid.

But with more time for reflection, it occurs to me that, in a crisis, the implications are potentially far more serious. Consider this statement from independent Andrew Wilkie:

KERRY O'BRIEN: Now, you say you wouldn't support any unwarranted or reckless no confidence motion in the government. In what circumstances would you regard a no confidence motion as being justified'

ANDREW WILKIE: Well the exact wording of the agreement that I've signed with the Prime Minister is that I would only support a no confidence motion moved by me or supported by me. The point being there has to be something that meets my standards and my standards for this is that a government that has the mandate to govern should be allowed to govern and it should only be the most serious matters which would bring it down. For instance, if someone was to act illegally, I mean that's a straightforward matter, or if someone was to act grossly unethically, and the example that comes straight to my mind is the Iraq war. I think that when John Howard decided to go to war and to join in the invasion of Iraq I think that was an act of grossly unethical behaviour.


ANDREW WILKIE: So that's the sort of standard I have set myself.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That was a personal judgement. I mean I know you were an intelligence analyst at that time. But that's still very much a personal judgment on your part, isn't it'

ANDREW WILKIE: Well, of course it is a personal judgment. And different people have, you know, different standards and different thresholds for acting. But by my own personal standards, my own sense of ethics, the unwarranted and illegal invasion of another country for fraudulent reasons was an act of government misconduct greater than I could've possibly imagined.

Another Iraq-style military adventure is not in the offing. But there is the problem of Iran and its nuclear program. Were the US to seek support from its allies for a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, it's hard to see how Wilkie and the Greens (it is not a huge leap of imagination to think that the Greens' moral compass is similarly attuned to that of Wilkie) could lend support.

You would imagine that, in such circumstances, our Embassy in Washington would be instructed to quietly dissuade the US from even asking for Australian support. It would be an awkward moment.