The following is an excerpt from Senator Benardi’s speech on the UN, following his 3 month parliamentary secondment to the organisation.
And for the most part, I find myself agreeing with the Senator’s measured and rational criticism of the UN.
Excerpt from Senator Benardi’s speech:
Last year I was fortunate enough to spend three months as part of a parliamentary secondment to the United Nations. It was an enlightening experience, which challenged some of my preconceived views on the UN and its efficiency and effectiveness. It may surprise some that I actually saw some aspects of the UN that I consider worthwhile. The opportunity for multilateral dialogue is a valuable one. I also recognise the importance of being able to facilitate global relief and security efforts. However, these functions could equally be fulfilled by rapid coordination by sovereign states—in many cases, more efficiently than is currently the case. To state that the UN is overly bureaucratic would be an understatement. It is an organisation searching for problems that will always require more money and manpower to ensure that they are never solved. Almost everyone I met shared the sentiment that the UN requires significant reform. Exactly what that reform should be depends on who you ask. One simple measure would be to increase transparency. Some UN bodies refuse to allow media or observers to attend their international conferences. The question that raises with me is ‘What do they have to hide?’ One particularly secretive event that was brought to my attention was the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Let me make it crystal clear that I am not a fan of smoking. I am not a fan of the nanny state, either. I am a fan of transparency within taxpayer-funded bodies. The UNFCTC COP7 conference was not open to the media. There was no transparency on decision making. It does not encourage shareholder or industry engagement and actually discourages broad participation. It is literally the embodiment of the unelected, unaccountable bureaucratic body I so feared I would discover at the United Nations. Amazingly, at a previous meeting of this body in April last year the delegates cosied up to the dictator of Turkmenistan. This is the chap who has banned beards, ballet and pet pooches in recent years. Now he has effectively banned smoking outside, but he runs a state-controlled tobacco monopoly. It goes without saying that in these despotic regimes there is a 20-metre-high gold monument of the person who runs a nation, which imprisons political opponents and foreign media. Male homosexuals are locked up in this country, and the government denies freedom of association, expression and religion. But such tyranny and human rights violations are conveniently ignored by FCTC organisers, with the World Health Organization even presenting the repressive regime with an award for the fight against tobacco. How out of touch can you get? Of course the World Health Organization is also concerned about the plight of Syrians, who, as you might know, are in the midst of a major conflict. They recently received a lecture from the WHO representative stressing the importance of controlling the population’s consumption of tobacco. Ignore the bombs and bullets—watch out for the second hand smoke! This is an example of wrong priorities. That is a criticism that can be levelled at many UN agencies. They spend countless hours quarrelling over the offence of using terms like ‘the family’ or where a comma or full stop should be used in a report. It seems neither efficient nor effective. Let’s remember that the UN was set up to avert future global conflict through dialogue. It has since morphed into the global moraliser, captured by vested interests, bureaucratic empire builders and the non-existent. The non-existent because, as far as I know, it is only at the United Nations that the state of Palestine actually exists! Having said all that, Australia does play a significant role within this global organisation. Our team are professional and respected. They punch well above their weight as a sensible and pragmatic influence on some of the more ambitious UN agendas. The time with the UN has provided me with first-hand experience of a body that meets with equal parts of praise and criticism. If the hope was for me to be converted to the United Nations globalist agenda, I can say the process was not successful. However, it has given me a better understanding of the UN and the role that is played by Australia and our representatives there.