Hicks and his family are right to be concerned about the conduct of
this trial. Our Government seems convinced the trial will be just. The
British Government is much more concerned about its citizens in the
same situation.

Important as this is to the individuals involved, the issue says much
about the relationship between Australia, Britain and the United States.

This matter is fundamental, and more serious for Australia than
Britain, which has a choice between the US and the European Union.

It is clear the Australian Government has determined that Australia's
interests will be best served by avoiding any argument with the US and
supporting American policy. This change in Australian foreign policy is
even more fundamental than the Government's announcements some weeks
ago would indicate. It goes to the heart of what we are about as an
independent nation. It raises more starkly than ever the question of
identity and purpose.

Are we indeed able to stand for Australians who may need the
protection of their nationality? The present answer is clear: not if
such actions cut across relations with the United States.