THE federal government and opposition both agree that Australia can make a positive contribution if elected to the United Nations Security Council.
But as the UN General Assembly prepares to vote on the next five non-permanent members of the UN Security Council today (Thursday), the opposition remains critical of the government, accusing it of buying votes.
Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg, while supporting the bid, said the decision to send two high-level diplomats to a summit in Iran in August “laid bare” the “hypocrisy of the government’s vote-winning strategy”.
“[The government] has carried out its election campaign against the best advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and in a way that has skewed our aid budget and compromised our values,” he said.
He added: “The Labor government’s decision to change its votes at the UN on Israel-related resolutions … is regrettable and a blatant attempt to boost its Security Council campaign.”
Shadow foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop said the government had compromised on foreign policy principles and used the aid budget in a blatant attempt to buy votes in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.
She said Australia could make a positive contribution if elected, “however, the government has failed to articulate what it hopes to achieve if the bid is successful and I am concerned about the impact of this lack of preparation.”
Labor MP Mark Dreyfus said he regretted the opposition’s “opportunistic criticism of our honest efforts to get elected to the Security Council”.
“Of course we will make our best efforts to secure this position, it is a close race and success is not assured,” he said.
He said securing a seat on the Security Council meant Australia could play a role in solving world problems such as the threat of nuclear arms in Iran and violence in Syria.
Labor MP Michael Danby said Australia’s democratic presence on the Security Council would be a win for countries defending themselves against terror and extremism.
“Israel is one of the countries who support Australia’s bid as they, along with many democratic countries throughout the globe, understand the importance of protecting free societies and collective security,” he said.
Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg