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Hillary Clinton Speaks In Melbourne

The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has spoken at a range of events in Melbourne today.

In the morning, Clinton spoke to a group of young Australians at the University of Melbourne.

  • Listen to the “Australian Conversation with Hillary Clinton”, as broadcast by the ABC (59m)
Hillary Clinton at the University of Melbourne

Hillary Clinton at the University of Melbourne

Later, Clinton spoke at the announcement of an Australian-US collaborative research venture aimed at cutting the cost of solar energy to the level of conventional fossil fuel power within five years. Clinton was joined by Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a joint press conference. [Read more…]


John Key Claims Victory For New Zealand National Party

The New Zealand National Party leader, John Key, has claimed victory in today’s general election.

KeyKey said the road ahead for New Zealand may be “rocky” and called for national unity. “Now is the time for working together,” he told supporters.

Key announced that he had spoken to minor party leaders and secured their support for forming a new government. [Read more…]


Labour Defeated In New Zealand Election; Clark Quits

The New Zealand Labour Party government has been defeated in today’s general election.

Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand 1999-2008The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has conceded defeat and announced her resignation as Labour leader.

“My job as leader of the Labour Party is complete,” Clark told supporters.

Clark’s government was elected in 1999 and served three terms.

The new Prime Minister will John Key, leader of the National Party. [Read more…]


Greens Welcome Obama Election

The Australian Greens have welcomed the election of Senator Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

The leader of the Greens, Senator Bob Brown, said the number of political allies of climate change deniers is dwindling. He said Obama’s election raised world hopes for “a fairer, securer, more ecologically sound future”. [Read more…]


Rudd Congratulates Obama On Election Win

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has congratulated Barack Obama on his election as the 44th President of the United States, praising his “campaign .. about hope”.

Rudd spoke at a Community Cabinet meeting in Tasmania.

  • Listen to Rudd (79s)

Transcript of Kevin Rudd’s press conference.

RUDD:

The great democracy that is the United States of America has once again demonstrated to the world the greatness of the democratic idea at work.

45 Years ago Martin Luther King dreamed of an America where men and women will be judged not on the colour of their skin but on the content of their character.

Today what America has done is turn that dream into a reality. [Read more…]


U.S.-Australian Relations In A New Era: Nicholas Burns

The US-Australian Alliance has “a foundation deeper than the policies or political parties of the day”, according to the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns.

Addressing the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Burns said he was “impressed by the new Australian cabinet”. He said “Australia is as good a friend to the US as any country in the world” and there is “no reason for that to change”. [Read more…]


UN, USA, Asia: Three Pillars Of Labor’s Foreign Policy, Says Smith

The incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, has outlined the three pillars underpinning Federal Labor’s foreign policy approach.

In a statement issued today, Smith said those pillars were:

  • Our membership of the United Nations;
  • Our Alliance with the United States; and
  • Our policy of comprehensive engagement with Asia.

Smith said: “Federal Labor has consistently emphasised the need to focus our foreign policy and diplomatic efforts on Australia’s national interests within our own Asia-Pacific region. [Read more…]


Democrats Say Bush Failed To Provide Plans For Future Of Iraq

President Bush “failed to provide either a plan to successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue it”, according to Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed.

Delivering the Democratic Party response to Bush’s address, Reed said “an endless and unlimited military presence in Iraq is not an option”. [Read more…]


APEC: John Howard and George Bush Joint Press Conference

The United States President, George W. Bush, held a joint press conference with the Prime Minister, John Howard, in Sydney today.

The press conference followed Bush’s arrival in Australia last night, ahead of the APEC meeting at the end of the week. [Read more…]


Hicks To Serve 9 Months In Australian Jail; Released After Election

David Hicks has been sentenced to seven years prison in addition to the five years he has already spent at Guantanamo Bay, but six years and three months have been suspended by the US military tribunal.

Hicks must be returned to Australia by May 29. He will likely serve out his sentence at Yatala Prison in Adelaide. He is gagged from speaking to the media for twelve months and from selling his story to the media. As part of the plea bargain, Hicks withdrew allegations of abuse by US military forces.

The sentence handed down today was reportedly agreed upon earlier this week. It follows a plea of guilty by Hicks to charges of supporting terrorism. Other charges were withdrawn. Hicks is the first person to be convicted by the Guantanamo military tribunals.

Politically, the decision represents a victory for the Prime Minister, John Howard. As concern about the delay in bringing Hicks to trial grew last year, Howard made representations to President George W Bush and expressed his “anger”. Backbench disquiet about the issue will now be allayed. Hicks’s return to Australia will similarly mute the criticisms of other groups. His 9-month incarceration will allow for his release in the new year and remove him from the election campaign prior to Christmas. The guilty plea, whilst seen by some as induced by captivity at Guantanamo Bay, has effectively killed off David Hicks as an election issue.

The Hicks deal has been attacked by the Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown:

“The 12 month gag on David Hicks when he returns to Australia is to save the Howard government from embarrassing truths in the run to this year’s election. Most people will be relieved he is coming home and that the ordeal for his family is nearing its end. The day David Hicks walks out of jail approaches and his father, mother and other family members now have a date to look forward to. But the shame of Prime Minister Howard’s failure to uphold Australian standards will go down in history.”

Senator Brown said he did not believe Hicks’ statement, including his reversal claim that he was not abused in Guantanamo Bay. “This is a plea bargain under coercion. If Hicks claimed abuse or refused the press gag he was staying in Gitmo. So he has agreed to this fabricated statement,” Senator Brown said. “This military commission farce shames Australia. The Howard government has been contemptuous of international and domestic law. But the truth will out,” Senator Brown said.