Foreign policies are all at sea

Foreign policies are all at sea

Apart from the ongoing asylum seeker and border protection debate, foreign affairs issues have so far been given little attention in this election campaign. There are nevertheless likely to be wide differences between Labor and Coalition views and it is time we were informed about how they propose to deal with them.Foreign affairs issues may often be very complex but they can impact on our lives and on fundamental human rights. We need to be informed how the Government plans to tackle them.For example, most agree on the importance of the United States relationship but differ on how it should be managed. Both major parties agree, if reluctantly, that we should remain involved in Afghanistan, but few want to see this kind of involvement repeated.The foreign policy strategies of the Labor Party are fairly clear and seem unlikely to change, thanks to Rudd's influence. We should, however, be pressing Labor to give more attention to humanitarian issues and to its earlier proclaimed objective to make the UN more effective in peacekeeping. If that had been achieved, a UN mission, and not the US and NATO, would be the major player in Afghanistan.Under Labor our foreign policy is unlikely to change much, but the big question is - how will it be shaped if Tony Abbott becomes prime minister? So far we have had few clues from the Coalition. Many of its members have strong views, but few have had any experience in the conduct of Australia's relations with this complex and changing world.To begin with, if we want Australia to be a responsible nation, then we need to act accordingly, bearing in mind that the litmus test is how we observe and uphold UN conventions and respond to humanitarian crises. Mr Abbott has given us few clues. However, his proposed "stop the boats" plan is profoundly disturbing, as is his unqualified support for Israel over recent events in Gaza.What will be an Abbott government's policy on the United Nations? The position of the Howard government was not encouraging. Then we eagerly joined with the US-led coalition's invasion of Iraq, in effect defying UN appeals and virtually violating the UN charter. It ended Saddam Hussein's rule, but at appalling cost to the population - and it unleashed a sectarian conflict.Mr Abbott is keen to keep our population down, but will he support the pressing issue of population control, especially in the Third World? Under Howard we refused to back international action on population.What is the Coalition's stand on peacekeeping - strengthening the UN's central role and regional arrangements that would prevent political problems between states from eruption into conflict?What is the Coalition's policy on reforms aimed at preventing a repetition of the global financial crisis? What is its stand on pressing environmental issues like climate change?Abbott has had little to say on humanitarian issues, which impact on us all, whether internationally or at home.John Howard responded well on two counts - in East Timor, and our generous response to the tsunami in Indonesia. There are likely to be more challenges of this kind, which impact on human rights.The Coalition's weak stand in relation to human rights is very worrying. It has criticised the Government's campaign to win a seat on the UN Security Council.If Mr Abbott were to win government, we would be even less likely to get support from the international community.James Dunn is an author with four decades of experience as a foreign affairs official and with UN agencies.
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Baker and Bugg say goodbye to Bulldogs

Baker and Bugg say goodbye to Bulldogs

CLOSING IN: Latrobe's Zane Littlejohn tackles South Launceston's Scott Merritt in Saturday's NTFL match at Latrobe. Picture: PETER LORD."They both feel they don't want to be part of the club's future," he said.
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Baker and Bugg were both omitted from Saturday's senior team to play Latrobe and, although selected in the reserves, neither took the field.

Baker is considering returning to his original club George Town and Bugg is likely to return to Bracknell.

Crisp said he wanted to sit down and talk with both players before South Launceston considered giving them a clearance.

Baker, 31, is a highly-decorated player at South Launceston where he has played almost 150 games and was a premiership player in 1998 and 1999.

In 2001, he won the G. B. "Paddy" Martin Medal for being the NTFL's best representative player against the SFL.

Bugg joined the Bulldogs this season after representing the NTFA last year, but has struggled to cement his place.

South Launceston won its second game of the season with a nine- point victory over Latrobe on Saturday and Crisp said the team had to start building on its youth.

¤¤¤ Burnie will have an anxious wait tonight to see if ruckman Brad Davis is available to play against Smithton this week.

Davis has been booked on a charge of striking Wynyard's Ashley Poke and he will appear before the NTFL Independent Tribunal in Devonport.

He was reported by field umpire Phil Blizzard.

A misconduct charge laid against East Devonport defender Brent Mullett and held over from Anzac Day will also be heard tonight.

Mulett has been charged with allegedly stomping on Devonport opponent Rhys Colbeck.

¤¤¤ Both the Launceston and Penguin football clubs are planning a major reunion of their last premiership teams.

Launceston beat North Launceston for the 1985 NTFA flag and in the same year Penguin defeated Smithton in the NWFU.

Launceston's premiership coach Kerry Sanders continues to be involved at Windsor Park, as do Phil Thurlow, Michael Cook, Malcolm Atkins, Paul Ellis, Robert Dutton and John McCrimmon.

The reunion will be held on June 25, with Launceston playing the Northern Bombers at Aurora Stadium earlier in the day as a prelude to the VFL game.

Penguin's 1985 reunion is being organised by Wayne Turnbull and will be held on July 9 after the round 14 clash with Smithton.

¤¤¤ East Devonport senior coach Leon Perry stood in as under-19 coach at Penguin on Saturday in the absence of Ron Mansfield.

Mansfield was suspended from holding any official duties for three weeks by the NTFL Independent Tribunal after being found guilty on a misconduct charge.

A spitting complaint laid against East Devonport forward Leigh Febey from Anzac Day's town premiership against Devonport has been referred to the tribunal.

¤¤¤ The East Devonport Football Club's Old Swans Association is mourning the death of its patron Brian "Macka" McCormick.

McCormick died last Friday after a short illness and, following his funeral tomorrow afternoon, a function will be held at Girdlestone Park.

McCormick was bar manager at East Devonport for many years.

¤¤¤ NTFL round 7 next Saturday: Launceston v Ulverstone at Windsor Park; South Launceston v Penguin at Youngtown; Devonport v Northern Bombers at Devonport Oval; Burnie v Smithton at West Park; Wynyard v Latrobe at Wynyard; East Devonport bye.

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Cooper-Gasnier show back on road

Cooper-Gasnier show back on road

Comeback centre Matt Cooper draws Dragons team-mate Jamie Soward during a ball work session at WIN Stadium yesterday. Cooper will reunite with Mark Gasnier for tonight’s clash against Gold Coast. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODOThey were once the biggest double act in the NRL. The dynamic Dragons duo who played 111 games together at club, State of Origin and international level.On the left side of the field was Matt Cooper, with his trademark punishing defence and powerful ball-running.On the right was Mark Gasnier, the untouchable, side-stepping, offloading, attacking weapon.Reunited tonight for the first time since September 13, 2008, Cooper believes the attention surrounding Gasnier's return to the NRL can help reignite his own season. Full coverage of the Dragons After a spectacular opening to the year which resulted in Cooper securing his 11th NSW jersey, the 31-year-old was struck down by a hamstring injury suffered in Origin II five weeks ago.Cooper said the arrival of Gasnier meant opposition defensive lines were now paying less attention to the powerful left-side trio of Cooper, Brett Morris and Ben Creagh."I've noticed sides have been stacking our left side with an extra member of their defensive line," he said. "I think with Gaz being back it will drag an extra player over to Gaz. It will make life a bit better for our left side, his presence alone is going to help our left side."Gasnier, who left for French rugby at the end of 2008, has played 143 games for St George Illawarra. Cooper has 189.Against a desperate Gold Coast line-up without NSW Origin enforcer Greg Bird and Queensland lock Ashley Harrison at Kogarah's WIN Jubilee Oval tonight, the pair will take the field together for the 99th time in Dragons clobber.They have also combined in seven games for NSW and six for Australia."It's been a couple of years since me and Gaz played together, it's going to be great to run out with him," Cooper said yesterday."Things change over time and there's a lot of new players here who Gaz hasn't played with. I think it's going to be good for Gaz to have me out there as a familiar face."As the Dragons chase a second successive minor premiership, Cooper is desperate to recover his best form after a frustrating period on the sidelines.Cooper limped off at half-time in Origin I with a hip problem, before tearing his hamstring in the final moments of the second game when Queensland secured a remarkable fifth successive crown."When I got injured, especially in Origin, that was disappointing," he said. "I'm keen to start fresh on Friday night and put in a good performance for the boys."Cooper said he expected the left-side attack to return to the form which made them the most feared combination in the NRL earlier this year."Our form was good when we were all together," he said."It's been great with me being out, so I've just got to get out there and play my normal style of football."Having the likes of Brett (Morris) and the two Bennys (Creagh and Hornby) inside me, it's made my job a lot easier."
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Gilmore: Create more jobs and job is yours

Gilmore: Create more jobs and job is yours

Neil Reilly with Parliamentary Secretary for Employment Jason Clare and apprentices Blake Matthews and Beau Kramp. Picture: SOUTH COAST REGISTERJobs creation could be the key to winning over Gilmore voters with the area consistently rating among Australia's worst for unemployment.The three major parties' candidates for the seat have acknowledged jobs will be a top priority when voters step up to the ballot box in four weeks.In Shellharbour, the latest unemployment rate stands at 8.1 per cent, while Shoalhaven is faring slightly better on 6.9 per cent.Both are well above the national average of 5.1 per cent.Of the local government areas in Gilmore, only Kiama falls under the average figure.On the campaign trail in Nowra yesterday to promote Labor's newly announced national trade cadetship scheme, Gilmore candidate Neil Reilly said unemployment would be a major focus for the party leading into the election.He said figures across the electorate had been high for 14 years and the situation could not be turned around in just one term."The figures aren't pretty but we can change that," he said."This is like turning around a battleship, you can't just dip in an oar."He said the cadetship program, to be introduced to the curriculum in 2012, would provide pre-apprenticeship training to school children in Years 9 to 12, acting as the party's first step towards addressing unemployment in the region.Also placing a strong emphasis on apprenticeship training, Liberal incumbent Joanna Gash said supporting small businesses, attracting big industry to the area and creating jobs for unskilled workers would be a priority."We have a shortage of jobs available for unskilled workers and one way we're looking at addressing that is by introducing a 'green army' which would comprise 15,000 people as an environmental workforce," she said.For Greens candidate Ben van der Wijngaart, creating jobs for Gilmore constituents isn't about carefully timed announcements."I'm very wary of fancy new schemes that are supposedly going to be a silver bullet to remedy all of our issues," he said.Mr van der Wijngaart said creating green jobs and boosting the agriculture industry would put a sizeable dent in the region's unemployment figures."We have great opportunities in Gilmore to take on sustainable agriculture, not just in dairy, but we can become the food bowl for the area and into Sydney," he said.
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Council gives ground in parking meter war

Council gives ground in parking meter war

Amanda Parkinson, of Unanderra, was one of the first drivers to take advantage of the new 50¢ parking spots in Wollongong's CBD yesterday afternoon. Picture: DAVE TEASEThere were mixed feelings among business owners and shoppers when Wollongong City Council yesterday cut its parking fees.David Saveski at Bar Pellegrini cafe welcomed the move, saying his customers would be happier paying 50 cents for 30 minutes."A lot of our customers have said $2 is a lot of money, especially if they're just buying coffee, so mentally 50 cents is a lot better," he said.Shopper Amanda Parkinson was one of the first people to take advantage of the cheaper spots when she popped into the CBD yesterday afternoon."I'm very happy," she said."But I would have paid the $2 just to save driving around in a parking station."Ms Parkinson thought parking meters had improved the overall parking situation."It hasn't affected me too much because I don't come to town often, but now when you just want to run in and out you can always find a park," she said.Kitt Couture boutique co-owners Kristy Trajkovski and Jade Mulley said they thought the new rates were fairer.And shopper Andrew Selby was more likely to park on the street now that the flat rate had been dropped."I know they've got to charge something but $2 was like parking in Sydney," Mr Selby said."I think it's very fair to lower them."Contractor Andy Gunthorp said people would still be deterred because they needed change to feed the meters, while The Chelsea salon owner Lina Sorrentino said the new rates would not make a difference."I still disagree with parking meters. Our customers are still complaining, they don't like them full stop," Ms Sorrentino said.The mixed feelings on the street were echoed in comments posted on the Illawarra Mercury's website, with the majority saying they would never pay for parking in Wollongong and meters needed to be removed completely.Others applauded the council for listening to the public. One reader said it was "about time they based it on hours instead of a flat fee" and it was good to see revenue being spent on the city.
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