Opinion by Michael Danby MP, Financial Review
Monday, 14 March 2016
Foreign minister Julie Bishop says "it's in Australia's interest to engage more with Iran" as part of her prospective deal with the visiting Iranian foreign minister to send back asylum seekers to Iran ("Julie Bishop to push for Iran asylum-seeker deal", March 10). At what cost?
Several pages later in your newspaper, you report that Iran conducted yet another ballistic missile test ("Iran fires ballistic missiles, US hints at diplomatic response"). Again, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. Unlike the US, our foreign minister said nothing. The British publication The Independentreported that these missiles charmingly had "Israel must be wiped out" written along their sides. Again, we said nothing.
Three days ago, the Australian navy seized a shipload of 2000 small arms sent by Iran to stir up the insurrection in Yemen. Australia said nothing.
In October and December last year, Iran conducted other ballistic missile tests. The Obama administration protested but again Australia said nothing. In November, the Iranian government sponsored an official cartoon competition mocking the Nazi genocide of WWII. Foreign minister Julie Bishop said nothing.
Prior to the nuclear deal, Australia had a history of condemning such Iranian violations of international norms. In the past, we would also have condemned (Shia) Iran and its terrorist subsidiary Hezbollah besieging the (Sunni) Syrian city of Aleppo. Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist group by the Australian Parliament.
Australia under foreign minister Bishop has, since the nuclear deal, kept silent. She wants to force these Iranians back. Your readers might well ask, at what cost to Australia's reputation?