I mused about the timing of the announcement that Australia would be included in discussions. Seems that perhaps there was an ulterior motive – the peace pact? It would make some sense of things – give Howard the carrot and then put the pressure on. Apart from the fact it’s questionable as to why we wouldn’t be party to the pact, there has been little discussion as to the content of the actual treaty that’s on the table. Does anyone have further detail?
It’s also interesting how ASEAN is using trade as a tool to get change in policy – perhaps this is the one lever that will get Howard to budge…
Update: Kevin Rudd puts forward his take on Howard’s objection:
The key to Mr Howard’s objection is Article 10 of the Treaty which states that parties shall not participate in “any activity which shall constitute a threat to the political and economic stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of another High Contracting Party“.
Mr Howard is desperately trying to save face from his doctrine of regional military pre-emption, unilaterally announced in December 2002, when he reserved the right to launch pre-emptive strikes against the sovereign territory of our neighbours.