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31 July 2011

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So what happens if we have to deal with 'national culpability'?

What if the potential poisoning of the ocean floor affects the availability of pelagic fish stocks in the Pacific Ocean (e.g. tuna) that many Pacific countries depend on for food.

The UN been proven to be a paper tiger and can only act if those who have the clout want it to act.

The whaling debate between Japan and Australia is a good example. Contrast that fracas with the pursuit of a boat that fished the rare stocks of Patagonian tooth fish in our part of the Southern Ocean.

Clearly its one law for those pariahs who are from smaller countries with no clout and another law for those larger nations who thumb their noses at us.

The essence of the debate must logically be resolved by those nations who are primarily affected.

Yet we all know that wont happen unless enough people generate enough national political pressure, if and when we have to deal with 'big brother'.

We rightly get all precious about an Australian having sex with a 16-year old in Vanuatu and hound the man from pillar to post, but turn a blind eye to dumping millions of tons of mine waste on a pristine tropical habitat which could impact the lives of thousands for generations.

Double standards?

I've just realised I'm a criminal. I paid 20 kina to a PNG cop at Hohola who otherwise wouldn't let me past a roadblock.

Craige - The Australian government official advice is -

"When you are overseas, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. Learn as much as you can about the laws of the countries you will visit."

And -

"Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia."

Seems to me Bob was simply extended these provisions to cover mining companies whose actions would be illegal in Australia. If bribing foreign officials overseas is illegal, why not dumping toxic mine waste?

So where does individual country sovereignty start and stop and where does the responsibility of citizens of one country to adhere to the laws of another?

Should Australia be trying the Bali nine instead of Indonesia - after all drug trafficking is illegal in Austalia too, how about Palfreyman in Bulgaria convicted of murder?

As to starting a DSTP off Sydney, just try starting a tourist development in Tasmania - ask Dick Smith about his last experience there.

Many countries claim the right to legislate against the actions of their individuals and companies in other countries - whether this is good or bad is another issue.

E.g., you can't import Cuban cigars or Kinder Surprise toy eggs into the US. Moti was prosecuted in Australia for allegations made in another country.

In fact the jurisdiction of Australian law overseas is made clear on the front of your passport.

Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemicals, was ordered by the US Supreme Court to provide some assistance to the victims of the Bhopal disaster in India (sadly too little too late).

Extending this to mining companies is just a logical progression. Why can an Australian company breach environmental regulations that would apply in Australia just because it operates in another country?

Is this colonialism or the application of basic human rights to a global theatre?

I would say it is colonialism in the opposite direction - companies think they can get away with it, just because their operations are in another jurisdiction.

Such extra-territorial laws go back to the abolition of slavery and before.

Try starting a DSTP operation by a PNG mining company off the coast of Sydney!

So to summarise Brown: PNG and its judical system is incapable of dealing with these issues so Austalia must pass laws to overide the lack of ability in PNG.

Isn't that a bit like colonialism used to work?

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