fraser slams 'uncritical' support for us

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    Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser says Australians' interests are at stake as the US pursues its war against terrorism.

    In an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Fraser has used the likely military trial of suspected Al Qaeda fighter David Hicks to illustrate his claim the Federal Government has adopted a dangerous "no-conflict" policy regarding the US.

    Mr Fraser writes that the South Australian man's family is rightly concerned about the conduct of any trial and doubts about due process.

    He says the British Government has similar concerns for its citizens held at Guantanamo Bay.

    By contrast, Mr Fraser argues, the Federal Government is less likely to challenge the US if that risks damaging relations.

    "There is only one country on which Australians can rely absolutely," Mr Fraser writes. "That is Australia itself.

    "That capacity should never be prejudiced or diminished by other relationships.

    "Great powers have a history of pursuing their own interests to the exclusion even of the interests of states that have been close friends and allies."

    Mr Fraser concludes that Australians' rights are equally vulnerable to US interests whether in military detention in Cuba or on the streets of Sydney.

    "The US is not prepared to comply with international law carefully drafted and supported by legal authorities from many countries," he writes.

    "It is prepared to assert and, I believe, to enforce its law well beyond normal US jurisdiction if it perceives it to be in America's interests.

    "Do we really serve Australia's interests by such uncritical support and by such an apparent loss of our own sense of purpose and independence?"

    Federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams says every effort has been made to ensure Mr Hicks receives fair treatment.
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