Rudd pushes for Asia Pacific Community
June 4, 2008 - 11:27PM
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has flagged an ambitious plan to lead debate on the creation of a broad Asia Pacific Community by 2020.
And he has appointed former foreign affairs secretary and one-time ambassador to Indonesia Richard Woolcott as Australia's envoy to sell the idea.
Mr Rudd put forward the concept during a speech to the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre on Wednesday night, just days before he heads off a week-long visit to Japan and Indonesia.
"I believe it is time that we started to think about where we want to be with our regional architecture in 2020," he said.
"We believe that we need to anticipate the historic changes in our region and seek to shape them, rather than simply reacting to them."
Mr Rudd wants any new regional creation to span the entire Asia Pacific, including the United States, Japan, China, India and Indonesia.
And he believes it must engage in broad dialogue, cooperation and action on economic and political matters, as well as future challenges related to security.
"The purpose is to encourage the development of a genuine and comprehensive sense of community whose habitual operating principle is cooperation," Mr Rudd said.
"The danger in not acting is that we run the risk of succumbing to the perception that future conflict within our region may somehow be inevitable."
Excuse me, Mr. Rudd, but I do not recall this plan being put to the electorate in November 2007, and enunciated as a significant foreign policy initiative. I'm sure I would've remembered any proposal to thrust Australia into some kind of EU-style 'Asia-Pacific' union, thereby eroding our national sovereignty and dissolving our borders.
The truth, Mr. Rudd, is that you do not have a mandate to surrender Australia’s national sovereignty, especially not to a supranational body dominated by countries with which Australia has little in common. Australia is neither geographically nor culturally a part of Asia, and it would be a grave and irreversible mistake to erase the sovereignty and identity of our nation in some futile attempt to "fit in" to the region.
As incomprehensible as it may seem to you, the majority of Australians remain wedded to the idea of a sovereign Australian nation-state with control over its political, economic, cultural and demographic destiny. Unlike yourself, they're not prepared to relegate the Australian nation-state to a tired piece of history.