Australian politics, society & culture

Don Stokes

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In times such as these, when those in the frontline of human rights abuses under the pretext of the ‘War on terror’ predominantly declare themselves as followers of Christ it is refreshing yet puzzling to read Kevin Rudd’s account of personal commitment to the true values of Christianity in ‘Faith in Politics’ (October 2006).

Rudd quotes “Faith must be free to challenge both right and left from a consistent moral ground”, and “Christianity … must always take the side of the marginalised, the vulnerable and the oppressed.”

In this context, how does his support of Indonesian actions against the East Timorese in 1999 fit into this set of values? In the lead up to and immediately after the referendum the Howard Government supported Indonesia’s brutal repression of the East Timorese people as a reasonable reaction against unruly and disruptive pro-independence elements, whereas the vast majority were united in their commitment to sovereignty.

At this time the ALP, represented on East Timor by Laurie Brereton, had changed its policy in support of East Timorese independence.

Kevin Rudd then sided with the Howard government and Indonesia against his own party and the East Timorese people. He almost succeeded in preventing the deployment of the Australian contingent of the UN peacekeeping force.

Has Rudd’s Christian principles of standing up for the oppressed developed since 1999, or is he, together with Howard, Costello, Carr, Ruddock, Bush etc. hanging onto the Christian bandwagon for political gain?