Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our Geelong man in New York

from w
Against the odds, Australia has joined the elite deckchairs of the United Natons Security Council, and our man in Geelong, Richard Marles - Foreign Affairs helper, has been part of it.  He was interviewed on ABC radio this morning and did sound cheery. He represents part of our Geelong region in the Parliament and had the Pacific Desk but it seems now he's broadened out a bit.

But of course what does the Security Council actually do?  A policeman of the fractious nations of the world, but without a huge baton?  Anyway, for the time being some of our politicians are happy.

The story below is mainly about Carr though and it beats the story of Julia once again losing a shoe and falling down, this time in India. When will she ever learn to wear flat shoes

from the news media this morning:
Australia wins seat on UN Security Council
·         By Paul Toohey, US Correspondent
·         News Limited Network
·         October 18, 201211:14PM

AUSTRALIA has scored a surprising and emphatic win in its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, coming well ahead of its opponents Luxembourg and Finland with 140 of a possible 193 votes.
"Let me just say to you, it is always good to see Australia win," said Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, stepping out of the UN’s Great Hall in New York shortly after the vote.
"This was a big, juicy, decisive win. And it’s very, very sweet."
The vote means Australia will serve for two years as one of 10 non - permanent of the Security Council, joining the five permanent member nations in influencing crucial decisions about military interventions across the world.
For historical reasons, Australia was grouped in the Western Europe & Others category, and was pitted against Luxembourg and Finland in a secret ballot for two seats of the five available seats.
Insiders had expected Finland, which began its campaign for a seat in 2001, would win easily, especially as Australia only joined the bid in 2008, when Kevin Rudd was still prime minister.
After five years and $25 million, Foreign Minister Bob Carr went into the Great Hall just before 10am (1am AEDT) saying he was "nervous" about Australia’s chances.
Just after midday (3am AEDT), the vote came in.

The announcement that Australia had come in first must have shocked Finland, whose leaders had seemed certain they would get one of the two seats.
Instead, Luxembourg got 128 votes and Finland 108. The two nations then went to a runoff vote, Luxembourg winning with 131 votes to Finland’s 60.
Other countries which won seats on the day were Rwanda, Argentina and South Korea.
Mr Carr said Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s work at the UN this year had been influential, and he also acknowledged Mr Rudd for initiating the bid in 2008.
"I want to note the vindication of Kevin Rudd to enter this ballot at this time," Mr Carr said. "It was much criticised but his judgment has been vindicated."
Mr Carr said he would not engage in any "shallow mischief making" as to whether Mr Rudd would seek to claim it as a personal victory.
Australia had downplayed its chances of winning a seat, with those close to the lobbying saying they expected they would go to run-off battle with Luxembourg after Finland won easily.
But Australia’s Ambassador to the UN, Gary Quinlan, said at a press conference after the vote that the 140 countries that had voted for Australia had all given, and kept their word, in the secret ballot.
"People voted the way they told us they would vote," said Mr Quinlan.
Parliamentary secretary Richard Marles, also in New York, said the key to Australia winning the seat were the Pacific nations, Africa and the Caribbean nations, who had all pledged their support for Australia.
Mr Marles promised that Australia would also represent them at the Security Council.
Australia now joins the 10 non-permanent countries that will vote along with the five permanent UNSC members, China, France, UK, Russia and the US.
The permanent members retain the power of veto, meaning that one of them can stand in the way of taking military action or imposing heavy sanctions if they so decide.
Mr Quinlan said the job of the Security Council was much wider than the veto power that tended to dominate news. He said the UN currently had 130,000 troops across the ground and 15 peacekeeping missions.
He said Australia would begin observing meetings and then take its seat on January 1. He expected there would be 1500 informal and formal meetings over the coming two years.
The last Australian Ambassador to the UN, Richard Woolcott, who served on the UNSC from 1985 to 1986, said non-permanent members could have real influence on world affairs, and said three such nations were key to ending the Iran-Iraq conflict during his tenure.
Australia has served on the UN Security Council of four previous occasions.


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