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The Hawke Files and the Birth of the 51st State

By David C. Paull

As recent foreign policy developments show, Australia has abandoned any notion of an independent defence policy to one of strategic offence as part of a new US-UK alliance, fulfilling a long-standing desire by the US for Australia to be a client state.

A recent article published (June 2021) in the Australian Journal of Politics and History has for the first time reviewed diplomatic cables from US official archives from the 1970s. It highlighted the extent to which Hawke was a primary informant to US diplomats during this time, a relationship the US was keen to nurture given the growing importance of Labor in national Australian politics following the Menzies era and its relationship with the labour movement. The article contends that this relationship was key to the shaping of policy under the Hawke-Keating Government and beyond, particularly, by ensuring Australia remains within the US sphere of military influence.

The article by historian Cameron Coventry comes not long after earlier insights into the relationship between US intelligence and Australia revealed in Brian Toohey’s 2019 book ‘Secret’, shedding light, among other things, onto the active role US intelligence played in trying to oust the Whitlam Government, largely due to his wish for greater transparency into the operations of the US military and CIA on our shores. As it turned out Buckingham Place delivered the coup d’grace a year later.

The close relationship between actors in Australian and US intelligence of course goes back prior to the Prime Ministership of Whitlam, as evidenced by Australia’s secret role in the overthrowal of the Allende Government in Chile and the Sukarno Government in Indonesia.

It is clear from the Toohey disclosures that the US considers Australia as vital in maintaining its strategic position in the world, particularly through its bases at Pine Gap and the North West Cape. However, the Coventry article shows how much the US was interested in influencing government policy in Australia, particularly in the areas of industrial relations, macroeconomics as well as foreign policy. The role played by Hawke as an informer, while certainly not the only one, appears to be a crucial factor for the US and its successful maintenance of its corporate and military interests during the Hawke-Keating era and subsequent governments.

Robert Hawke is on the record for being a strong supporter of the American alliance, while the extensive diplomatic cables from 1973-79, released by the US Government during the period 2004-15, do not reveal his words, they do record the main concerns of the US and how American diplomats responded to this relationship.

The cables show US diplomats recognised Hawke’s ambition to become the nation’s leader and his unequalled ability to deal with union affairs, particularly during his role as ACTU head. Hawke provided information regarding union disputes with multinational corporates such as the Ford Motor Company1. US diplomats lauded Hawke for his ability to keep them abreast of labour developments and his ability to keep militant unions at bay.

Perhaps Hawke was most useful to the US in his attitude to foreign affairs and the bilateral relationship. Tensions with Whitlam had emerged over the bases and with a perceived shift in public opinion2. But as the cables show Hawke came to the rescue pacifying any anti-American sentiment which may have come from his Labor colleagues even to the point of denying any CIA activity in Australia3. Hawke even warned the US when installations were to be targeted by union activity.

It was also widely known that Hawke was zealously pro-Israel, Whitlam thought this was blatant electioneering because of the high number of Jewish voters in Melbourne, but Hawke pulled in the bucks, even interfered with Whitlam’s negotiations with Arafat by involving US diplomatic staff 4. This pro-Israel tradition has also come down through the decades.

What is clear from the cables is that US diplomats maintained a belief in Hawke’s ability to maintain US global interests, while publicly he projected a desire for “an independent non-aligned Australia”, privately, he wanted to expand ANZUS beyond a “purely defensive military alliance” 5.

Is this what has been realised under Prime Minister Morrison? The original deal with the French of 12 diesel submarines was clearly about patrolling Australian waters and providing a strong deterrence to incursions into our waters. There was less requirement for stealth, more for covering a large territory with the ability for more frequent re-fueling and easing any requirement for this task to be undertaken by allies.

Nuclear powered submarines will have a longer range capacity and a greater stealth abilities, more suited to assisting offensive operations. On top of this the US intends to step up military presence on our shores with more troops and operational capability. The whole package of AUKUS must be taken as a re-alignment of Australia’s security policy, with all the implications still not apparent, though New Zealand seems to have been cast aside.

One implication is for a proliferation of nuclear infrastructure within Australia. The reactors used in U.S. nuclear submarines require highly enriched uranium, and it makes little sense that Australia should not do this from its own shores. Although this is being denied now, Australia will gain access to this technology as its fleet expands. The greater U.S. and British willingness to transfer highly sensitive technologies to Australia suggests that we will see increased capacity to service the submarines on our won shores.

The legacy of the Hawke/US relationship lives with us today. Under Howard, the groundwork had already been done, the Coalition continued to wind back union rights, increase neoliberal corporatization of the economy and follow the US into any war they saw fit.

Today, US corporate financial, water and property interest in Australia has never been stronger. Now the military connections have been stepped up such that our sovereignty has become blurred, as Keating points out.

As the war hawks today swirl at the spectre of a Chinese paper tiger, it seems we are locked into a more offensive UK-US alliance structure and a government determined to undermine our rights and welfare at every turn. What a betrayal those days of Hawke now seem to those who long for a country that supports social justice and an independent foreign policy. Surely this is the task of a new Labor Government.

 

1 Coventry, C.M., 2021. The “Eloquence” of Robert J. Hawke: United States informer, 1973–79. p. 7

2 ibid, p. 18

3 ibid, p. 18

4 ibid, p. 22

5 ibid, p. 20

 

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What does it take?

By Sue Carrigan

Seriously, my head is about to explode. Never in my living memory have I had to witness the failings of a Prime Minister and his Coalition members as they lead a stunned populace headlong into what amounts to a shitstorm of catastrophic proportions.

Let’s for a moment put aside the country’s current pandemic crisis. We all know how we wound up in the situation; quarantine, vaccine, lockdowns, protests etc. What I think we have missed in the backwash is the bigger picture of how inept the current government is due to the absolute lack of integrity, honesty, foresight, intelligence, leadership or personal responsibility for their actions.

Let’s also put aside the governments complete lack of preparedness or even concern for the global climate crisis. Their complete ignorance with regard to emission targets and fossil fuel reduction can’t be underestimated, as they continue to open up new coal mines and argue the barrier reef is ‘nothing to see here, mate.

Perhaps we should also turn a blind eye to the culture within our government with regard to sexual harassment of women, politicians’ behaviour in a work environment that has no formalised code of conduct. But it is impossible to turn away from appalling calibre of some of the elected representatives that run our country.

The list of current LNP members whose conduct in the office that they represent has been overshadowed by underhanded dealings is through the roof. Insult to injury is that they all manage to resurface as the government merry-go-round of ‘how quickly we forget’ spins on its merry way.

Susan Ley quit the front bench in 2017 under an expenses scandal. 2019 sees her back as Minister for the Environment, for fuck’s sake, she is a coal advocate who demands that ‘The Great Barrier Reef’ be taken of the endangered list, and took a trip overseas to make sure it happened.

Bridget McKenzie quit the cabinet in 2020 because she had breached ‘ministerial standards’ over dodgy fund allocations, but here she is back in 2021 as a Minister for ‘who gives a rats’ arse.’

Michaelia Cash, accused of lying to the Senate Committee and all-round nasty when it came to defending Britanny Higgins, is unbelievably now back in one of the highest political positions as Attorney-General. Seriously, is it just me?

Craig Kelly, a furniture salesman turned scientific expert, removed to the back bench in 2021 for being an absolute moron, jumps ship along with his anti-vax messaging and joins up with that other charmer, who I had hoped choked on his money, to head the United Australia Party.

Christian Porter, well what a saga that has turned out to be. Track record as a compete misogynist and womaniser then accused of historical rape. Stands down as Attorney-General but no shit sticks to Teflon, and he takes the ABC to court. Then won’t say who funded the bill, breaching Ministerial Standards (laughable because it appears this government has no standards). Does the PM sack him or make any decision at all? That would be a no, Porter decides to step down and go and twiddle on the back bench. These people have absolutely no shame or even a sense of public humiliation.

But this is the final straw. Barnaby Joyce (we all remember who he is, the bloke who practically said; what baby, I’m not sure if it’s even mine… nice one, resurrected from the back bench in 2021 as deputy PM, go figure) announced that:

‘Christian Porter has now paid the price. He has gone to the corridor of the nearly dead, where I was for 3 and a bit years, just above the carpark. He has like so many of us, gone to the corridor of the nearly dead (yes, he repeated it) … I bet you his electorate won’t resign from him though. He’s an incredibly astute politician, he’s incredibly capable. I’ll put money that we’ll see him back again.’

What the absolute fuck!! Joyce is an ignorant mouthpiece for what many politicians think but aren’t stupid enough to say. That we voters are dumb bottom feeders who have the memory of a gnat and will forget the shit that goes on behind the locked secretive hallways of the federal government.

We should and must demand a better class of human being than those which we are suffering through and tolerating. Joyce’s corridor of the nearly dead, needs to lead from the hallowed hallways to the servant’s exit where they should be despatched and never be heard of again.

 

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Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women (part 1)

By Tess Lawrence

Tess Lawrence is not known for holding back when holding forth. In this first excerpt from a longer treatise she calls out Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accusing him of both implicit and complicit coercive control over women in Australia, including female cabinet ministers as well as complainants of alleged rape and other forms of sexual assault and harassment.

Content warning: This article discusses rape and institutional political psychosexual violence.

Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has burgeoned into a political psychopath.

His flaccid leadership and the gross logistical incompetence he’s displayed whilst mismanaging the accumulation, distribution and access to coronavirus vaccines for the comparatively small population who inhabit our vast continent are just two reasons why his tenure is doomed.

There are other crises that warrant immediate attention despite his continuing attempts to suffocate public debate. One of them is Morrison’s ‘woman problem.’ His misogyny and contempt for women have long been stripped bare. They are self-evident; two-faced on the one coin.

The government’s shrewd appropriation of last week’s National Summit on Women’s Safety was an indictment of the continuing irrelevance of the Liberal National Party when it comes to self-examination and institutional reform.

The lack of public advocacy by LNP female cabinet ministers and their appalling political subservience to the ‘father’ of the nation is galling, when it comes down to cleansing Parliament of its sleaze and sleazebags and rehabilitating the House of ill-repute it has become.

So is this. Mere days before the summit, Morrison and his desultory flunkies turfed most of the recommendations made by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

 

 

Many good and wonderful women attended the summit and participated in good faith. Many more should have been there. The paltry 48 hours assigned to the summit was cruel insult. As was Morrison’s keynote address. He is a study in hypocrisy.

His twinkling eyes belie a smarmy paternalism. We have watched him slither from autocrat minister to prime minister, snatching the wattle crown with stealth from more politically agile expectants after the Turnbull spillage.

Morrison’s coercive control stem from Christian Sharia

Afghanistan’s Taliban are shameless in their overt control over women, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s insidious coercive control of women stems from a fundamentalist white man’s version of Christian sharia that deems women, like animals, are mere chattels owned by men and the state.

Of course, all regimes and governments exercise greater coercive control over women than men. Institutional bullying of women in particular is endemic in the construct of rule and religion. Democracy and the Westminster System alike are founded on the coercive control of women, are they not? In the West we learn how heroic women died in the fight for suffrage. They did us proud. My generation has betrayed them. How so?

Elsewhere and everywhere millions of faceless, nameless women continue to die from the catastrophic realities of simply being born female; remaining third class humans within their family household, the notion of voting or standing for any kind of parliament or public office not even a secret fantasy. We all have a shared history, a shared humanity, a shared inhumanity.

What is our Prime Minister doing about it in our own backyard? Bugger all.

We know enough of Morrison’s past and present to call out his patriarchal authoritarianism.

He is publicly steeped in evangelical, biblical primitivism and the subversive, oppressive white tribalism that fuels racial and male gender supremacy.

The latter marches alongside the latent new dawn of pan aryanism now insinuating its emergence from the darker marginalia of history into the stark daylight of global reality; the memento mori of those black and white Pathe’ newsreels replaced and repurposed with full blown glorious technicolour that capture scenes of terrorism, murder and butchery most foul.

Yet blood shed by all nations is as the same crimson shared on humanity’s own Pantone colour chart, regardless of gender.

Morrison’s laying of hands one thing – what of that other kind of laying on of hands?

Morrison may indeed possess healing powers when it comes to his religious laying on of hands upon unwitting constituents enduring hardship.

But it is his failure to adequately address allegations of the unwanted laying on of multiple hands of another kind by male parliamentary predators within the Liberal Party that renders him liable to being described a facilitator and enabler of such creeps; at the least, a bystander.

Then there’s the many allegations of historical and contemporary rape made against other politicians and staff – not all members of the Coalition either.

Morrison’s remit is Parliament and Australia entire; whether polity or populi. Time and again he has manhandled these allegations. He has weaponized them. He has turned that rapid fire assault rifle on the accusers themselves, forever trying to suppress their speech and control the public and political narrative.

His tolerance of what may yet prove to constitute criminal behaviour is disturbing.

Remember how he contemptuously nominated his bestie Brian Houston to be in Australia’s entourage and a guest at President Donald Trump’s White House state dinner?

Houston, we have a problem!

But hey, with Pastor Brian Houston, we had a problem.

Royal Commission cited Houston over father’s sex abuse.

The New Zealand-born founder of global behemoth Hillsong Church, Houston, Morrison’s religious guru and mentor was cited by the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for failing to inform police that his own father, Pastor Frank, was a self-confessed child abuser.

That failure dogs the son of the paedophile preacher man to this day. It dogs Morrison too.

Note: Houston was recently charged by NSW police with the alleged concealment of alleged child sex offences. In the United States, Hillsong continues to be mired in sexual scandals as well.

Sources say Oz big bizzo threatened boycott White House dinner if Houston attended

It was Wall Street Journal’s Vivian Salama who broke the story about Morrison’s failed attempt to secure Houston an invite to Pennsylvania Avenue. And yet before Salama’s scoop, there was loud rumour in diplomatic circles that Trump had given Morrison and Houston the finger.

Now I have learned from former White House insiders that they were not the only ones who didn’t want this episode in the life of Brian to cause political fission. I was told that powerful Australian business interests didn’t want a bar of Houston either.

Of course, Houston had visited Trump’s White House before and after Morrison’s visit but the intervention by some from big bizzo was uncompromising. Some were said to have threatened to boycott the state dinner if Houston attended.

I quote one member of the group who asked not to be identified:

“We don’t want to be in the same room as Houston, whether it’s the White House or the Lodge – let alone sit at the same table with him.”

Further, I was told by a former White House staffer that some of those White House dissidents are also amongst the group of business powerbrokers that recently approached former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to intervene in the lack of vaccines debacle in Australia.

White House rebuff kick in the goolies for Morrison

The fact that even pussy grabbing Trump knocked back the megachurch’s Pastor Houston in this instance was a kick in the goolies for the embarrassed and embarrassing Morrison.

He’d tried in vain to keep a lid on the fact that Houston’s name was on his intimate dance card, once even preposterously asserting that to do so would constitute a threat to national security.

Morrison and Houston were both humiliated by the knockback. I understand our US Ambassador Joe Hockey sided with the business power brokers. Surprise, surprise. Australia now has to endure the historical ignominy of inviting Houston to represent Australia in the first place over arguably worthier invitees.

But wait, there’s more, in less than a fortnight, SloMo is off to the White House again to attend the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Leaders Summit. President Joe Biden will be doing his darndest to get some sense out of Morrison on the subjects of Covid 19, climate change, cyberspace and oh, yeah, something about a free and open Indo-Pacific. Did someone mention China? No mention of the increasing violence towards women or the disintegration of Afghanistan and particularly the plight of women.

But out of earshot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, Morrison will be discussing the implications of the Houston fracas.

Houston episode forensic insight into ScoMo’s psyche

The point is, this White House-Houston episode gives us important psycho-forensic insight into Morrison’s tolerance laissez-faire attitude and mindset about the proliferation and subject of sex abuse in general.

It exposes a worrying personal and political diffidence towards the many historical and contemporary allegations of rape, sexual harassment, insult, abuse and violence made by women – and directed at women within and beyond parliamentary precincts.

It shows too, how Morrison puts his mates first and Australia second. He does this time and again.

Note: Here we must also cite the Coalition’s failure to implement critical aspects of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, specifically the Redress Scheme.

Does Scott Morrison really treat men against whom allegations have been made differently to their alleged victims? Yes. His biases favour males in general and they include alleged male perpetrators.

The siring of daughters has clearly done little to prompt him to be either friend, mentor, protector or prime minister for womankind. We are the last among equals and our Indigenous sisters are the least among the last.

The barbarians at the Holgate

Consider the outrageous bullying and egregious cowardly attack under the protection of parliamentary privilege upon then Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate, by Scott Morrison.

On the morning of October 22, last year, Ms Holgate appeared before Senate Estimates where it was revealed Australia Post had gifted $3000 Cartier watches to four employees, as a bonus for (it has since been revealed ) securing contracts worth several hundred millions of dollars.

In feverish delight, Morrison seized the opportunity to put the boot in to Holgate in Parliament, once again displaying his capacity for demeaning women, going so far as to cast aside common sense let alone natural justice and the law:

“She has been instructed to stand aside, if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go.”

It was a repugnant abuse of power and parliamentary privilege by a Prime Minister who is accustomed to maintaining a political harem of proudly compliant female ministers who lack the moral and political fortitude as individuals or even as a group, to seriously denounce and indict allegations of bullying and sexual abuse within their own party, even within their own cabinet.

Morrison’s notorious corporate slut-shaming and bullying of Holgate is forever documented in hansard and the ugly saga of the barbarians at the Holgate is far from over. Holgate recently received a $1million payout from Australia Post.

Morrison’s outrageous presumption of the woman’s guilt was out of order, given he did not have the facts at sleight of hand. It was an act of political psycho-violence against Holgate; part of a behavioural pattern, coercive control.

He bloody well knew that Australia Post had a history of dishing out opulent bonuses, including those made to Holgate’s male predecessor Ahmed Fahour.

Mathias Cormann, Onan the Invisible v CEO Holgate

Revelling in his power and toxic masculinity, Morrison proceeded to demean and vilify Holgate in the people’s house. In our name. Not only was he her accuser but also the jury and sentencing judge.

But there had been a long-time plan afoot. Months earlier, he’d sent in his bovver boy Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to politically stalk and undermine Holgate.
Go-fetch-her-Fletcher was only part of it.

There was the sneaky skullduggery of Onan the Invincible, former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, he who was the regurgitator in 2014 of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s offensive “economic girlie man” slur. How is it okay for a minister to use the word ‘girlie’ as an insult?

The Government needn’t have bothered paying for actors for this ‘play like a girl’ ad– it simply should have featured Mathias Cormann and his ‘girlie man ’insult. After all, there’s no copyright on sexism:

 

 

Together with certain members of Australia Post’s Board and Executive, the blokes plotted to get rid of Holgate, who’d dug in her high heels, to keep Australia Post intact, despite being subjected to industrial strength gaslighting, undermining, mudslinging and character assassination.

Magna Cartier

She was steadfastly opposed to any Coalition privatisation or divestiture of Australia Post, as had been conveniently recommended in a Boston Consulting Group report.

It just so happened that Boston Consulting’s report happily coincided with the LNP’s intent to sell off AP and sell out Australia’s iconic mail delivery service.

Holgate’s apparent largesse provided Morrison with the perfect sexcuse. The perfidious plan to flay Holgate in public was detonated by the Primed Minister.

The Magna Cartier ‘scandal ’ provided him with cover for political thuggery. Or so he thought.

Parliamentary privilege – the politician’s condom and ScoMo’s soiled French letter to Ms Holgate.

There is nothing that I can find to compare with the circumstances and sly subtext of Morrison’s deplorable abuse of privilege – and personal attack on Holgate.

It was malevolent character assassination writ large. She was a soft target. She wasn’t there to defend herself. It was a political mugging and seemingly entertained much of the hypocritical rabble in the well named Lower House. It was below the bikini line for sure and symptomatic of the toxic boys club that is our Parliament.

Wearing the politician’s protective condom of parliamentary privilege, Morrison had Holgate by the short and curlies. But it was a soiled French letter that again contained more forensic evidence of his appalling attitude towards women – and the CEO of Australia Post in particular.

Look at his body language in Parliament as he goes in for the Holgate kill. He’s enjoying it big time. He’s getting off on it. No question.

 

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison – and his government – is guilty of exercising coercive control not only over Australian women, but also those women and children seeking asylum, and refugees seeking a new life in Australia.

The popularity and proliferation of coercive control runs rampant across all societal strata: such is the level of physical and mental sexual violence towards women and girls in Australia, that it may as well be declared a national sport.

It is dangerously close to being described as a bonding mechanism for some males, given vituperative social media posts. For some males it is not a badge of dishonour but rather a campaign medal.

A war on a particular woman so often evolves into a war on all women.

If the sport was granted Olympic status, given our prolific expertise in domestic violence, we would probably win gold, silver, bronze and be runners up as well. This is the ugly reality for so many women in Australia. I know it to be true for my sisters everywhere.

Don’t just take my word for it. Let’s have a shufti at last year’s Parliamentary Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence and check out what it recorded about coercive control.

What is coercive control?

4.7: The concept of coercive control was developed by Professor Evan Stark, a sociologist and forensic social worker, who defined it as a ‘pattern of domination that includes tactics to isolate, degrade, exploit and control’ a person, ‘as well as to frighten them or hurt them physically’. Professor Stark describes coercive control as a ‘liberty crime’, and it has also been described as ‘intimate terrorism’.

4.8: Submitters to the inquiry characterised coercive control in various terms, but a common theme in evidence was that coercive control is not incident based, but instead involves a pattern of behaviour.

I rest my case. And for the time being, I rest my heart.

Please Note: If you need any support, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. You are not alone.

Continued tomorrow …

© Tess Lawrence

Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.

 

 

 

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Josh Frydenberg: Training for Future Leadership?

By Denis Bright

Josh Frydenberg made a successful transition from a recognized tennis ace to excellence in studies in economics and law. A successful corporate career followed. He has represented the normally safe federal seat of Kooyong since 2010. Either from Opposition or in a future LNP Government, Josh Frydenberg should be a familiar face in Australian politics into the 2030s.

Josh Frydenberg’s future contribution to policy innovation could be more creative if the federal LNP followed a more flexible path in domestic and strategic policies. In an economy that is resource rich and already half the size of either France or Britain, Australia has no need to be a dependent power within new strategic alliances that stoke up international tensions and divert resources into unproductive militarism to the cheers of military industrial complexes globally.

Generations of building up DFAT expertise justify a more independent outlook on international affairs so that Australians can enjoy the benefits of new associations with rising powers in Asia without the need for intelligence clearance from deliberations of the Five Eyes Intelligence Network.

The text from the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum was a good chance to note the style of Josh Frydenberg as he handled the provocative themes of Building Resilience and the Return of Strategic Competition.

Side-stepping great issues like global warming and the COVID-19 crisis, a potential LNP future leader focused on a manufactured complaint about the consequences of a more confident and assertive China that is willing to use its growing economic weight as a source of political pressure and regional coercion against countries in the US Global Alliance including Australia.

Josh Frydenberg offered a new China Plus Strategy. Australia would be in the forefront of managing the rise of China for the mutual benefit of countries in our Indo-Pacific Region, including the USA.

DFAT summaries of existing commercial ties with China shows the difficulties of turning around the ship of state in new strategic directions. China is indeed Australia’s largest two-way trading partner in goods and services, accounting for one third (31 per cent) of our trade with the world.

Josh Frydenberg in the Daily Mail, 18 May 2021

Any spontaneity from the address disappeared when The Australian (6 September 2021) reported on the address in considerable detail before delivery at the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum. By that evening, the address was hardly newsworthy. The usual coverage of COVID statistics and even Scott Morrison’s attendance at the two-day National Summit on Women’s Safety had become far more significant.

In opposition or government, Josh Frydenberg would take Australia in a more conservative direction in both foreign and domestic policies. Elections with Khaki Militaristic Rhetoric have been favourable to the LNP in the past. The 1954 election assisted in the generation of 23 years of continuity to LNP government after 1949. The landslide to the LNP in 1966 offered more oxygen to the continuity before US hastily abandoned Saigon to Viet Cong forces in 1975.

Today’s LNP overstates the importance of strategic concerns about the rise of China. As warned by retired Rear Admiral Chris Barrie, Australians can and should welcome the rise of China as a stabilizing influence in the Indo-Pacific Basin. Britain made similar mistakes by mishandling the rise of Germany in the generation prior to the Great War (1914-18).

Our currently badly skewed China card can help to win elections in the short-term at a cost of financial and strategic burdens for generations ahead. President Biden is also playing a mutual China card to stoke up patriotic fervour before the US mid-term elections on 8 November 2022.

Rapprochement with China is likely to commence after that date when projections from the US Federal Reserve for the US economy are less favourable than at present. The strategic disputes with China are probably less serious than our leaders claim. China is always in a good bargaining position because of its long-term economic strength, the diversity of its commercial outreach through Belt and Road Projects at a time when the property giant Evergrande is in financial difficulties.

Jaunts by US military vessels through the Taiwan Straits, co-exist with ferry services operating between the Chinese city of Xiamen and the Taiwanese port of Taichung with a capacity for 150 cars, 256 standard containers and 683 passengers on a six-days a week schedule. This is a luxurious ferry service which is owned jointly by investors on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

As reported in The Taipei Times (13 July 2021), there is less polarization in public opinion within Taiwan and a willingness to embark on Win-Win Relations with China over the confrontation associated with saturation military aid to Taiwan from US Republican administrations since 2001. Readers can easily access articles on changing public opinion within Taiwan as new public opinion soundings are communicated.

US Corporate leaders also ignore the excesses of the political rhetoric against China and foster new deals in China’s growing and diversifying economy. Despite the intensity of Trump’s rhetoric about commercial ties with China, US exports to China increased in 2020. Most US firms have a positive relationship with Chinese manufacturers for the delivery of popular American brand names and services. Extending this commercial relationship to higher level financial services is a step too far for US political leaders who do not want to be identified with the growth in the Chinese economy and its new global outreach in the current climate of public opinion in both China and the USA. In practice however, commercial relationships with China continue as the US economy needs a healthy commercial relationship with China. Just recently, US sales of microchips to Huawei’s auto component sector proceeded as usual while local conservative leaders continue talk down ties with China.

Josh Frydenberg’s New China Plus agenda is available for perusal in the ANU Crawford Policy Forum. Its macro-themes are:

  • The Return of Strategic Competition
  • An Australian economy that can cope with strategic competition
  • An Innovative Phase of Australian high technology market ideology in association with other regional partners

There is little that is Whitlamesque in Josh Frydenberg’s address. It promotes an Australia First Strategy in the manifest destiny traditions of other countries, large and small in the US Global Alliance. When the Biden administration makes its rapprochement with China, the LNP will quickly go with the flow of world opinion particularly if the shocks of current market corrections continue to disrupt the initial post-COVID global recovery.

All this is Politics 101 for a potential leader with Josh Frydenberg’s academic and corporate background. However, his own electorate of Kooyong is ahead of Josh in demanding a less pedestrian stance on the great issues of our times. Perhaps changed insights will come with Josh Frydenberg’s own keep fit agendas as the wider LNP takes a skip to the right in economic and strategic policies while Scott Morrison sizes up the most opportunistic election date.

 

Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.

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A tale of two ideologies

By 2353NM

Once upon a time, the newly elected progressive Australian Government was told by their advisers that financial calamity was to sweep the world, bringing financial ruin, uncertainty and pestilence (the last one might just be made up) to humanity. The newly elected government, being of the mind that they employ specialists who have likely forgotten more about their subjects than the politicians had ever known, asked what to do. The advice was ‘to go early and go hard’. Provide short term, medium term and long-term economic stimulus to the community.

So the government wrote pretty well everyone in the country a cheque for $900, which some saved, some bought the ‘new-fangled’ wide screen TV or made repairs to their homes and others distributed to the community by consuming the products available at the local bar or pokie palace. Short term stimulus done.

The government then devised a program that would improve the living conditions of thousands of people around their fair land. They decided to support those that wanted to insulate their houses. This would ensure that energy consumption to heat or cool the populations’ homes would be lower forever more. Regrettably a small number of insulation installers lost their lives, predominately due to lax occupational health and safety standards in a number of states where those out for a quick buck cashed in on the largesse without care for the employee or customer. As it took a while for people to decide if they wanted insulation and for the material to become available – medium term stimulus, tick.

The newly elected government believed in providing educational opportunities to all. Observing that a lot of schools didn’t have appropriate facilities for indoor sport, assemblies, performance spaces or even a place to run around when it was wet outside, the government determined that its long-term stimulus would be to fund the design and construction of multi-purpose school halls. Anyone who has ever designed and built anything will know that the process can easily take two or three years. Bingo – long term stimulus.

Those that followed a more conservative ideology were aghast! Some of the $900 cheques were being spent ‘inappropriately’, including the casinos or pokie palace! Exactly said the government, that keeps the casino or pokie attendant in a job and earning money. Others claimed insulating houses would increase energy efficiency, to the detriment of the large companies that mined the coal and owned the power stations. Exactly said the government, the homeowners will reap the benefits of lower energy prices for decades while reducing carbon emissions as less power, gas and heating oil would be consumed across the country.

Those that didn’t get the economic stimulus message also asked why schools that couldn’t afford to build their own hall were being given the money to do so. The government explained that the halls increased the opportunity for all students to excel at sport or become a famous actor and if nothing else provide a play area in wet weather. Besides, the construction would employ thousands of people for years. Those employed as a result of the program would then have the confidence to buy the new wide screen TV, spend a bit on the pokies as well as continue to provide economic stimulus to the shopkeepers and construction material manufacturers of our fair land. They would also probably return a bit to the government through income and payroll taxes as well as GST.

The result – Australia was one of the few developed economies that didn’t fall into recession between 2007 and 2010.

After a few years waging war on the government’s ‘feckless’ spending, amid claims of maxing out the credit card, rorts that benefitted political friends and finding every little process and procedural failure, the conservatives were in power. There was no recognition given to the ‘go hard and go fast’ mantra’s quick implementation, leading to some finding the inevitable flaws in the process and exploiting them.

Twelve years after the financial crisis that was going to affect the entire world, a global pandemic swept the world. In early 2020, the government’s ‘fearless leader’ (so named because he stabbed his predecessor in the back for having the hide to attempt to introduce an emissions trading scheme) addressed us all one Friday afternoon and advised that financial ruin, uncertainty and pestilence (the first one might just be made up this time) were going to be experienced across our fair land. From the following Monday there were going to be some restrictions on our ability to gather together and move around, but they were only going to be introduced after he saw his favourite footy team, ‘the Sharkies’, play their first game for the new football year (and presumably attend his Pentecostal church on the Sunday).

The restrictions caused a lot of employees to either not be rostered for their casual shifts or stood down from their permanent employment. Our ‘fearless leader’ claimed there was nothing he could do, as less than a year earlier he had gone to an election claiming that the government’s budget was ‘already back in the black next year’ despite the logical tautology. You could even buy the ‘back in the black’ coffee mug from the Liberal Party online store! We had unlikely bedfellows, the Union movement and the Business Council of Australia, together with the states, imploring the Australian Government to do something to avoid widespread financial calamity and ruin across the country (maybe the first one wasn’t made up after all).

The government, still hurting from the marketing and sales disaster that was the ‘back in the black’ coffee mugs finally agreed to introduce a system where they would pay the employers of stood down staff who would in turn pay the employees a fixed sum. Despite Johnson’s UK having the skills to calculate a percentage of the normal wage payment for each employee, it was too hard for our ‘fearless leader’ to work out someone on $700 a week and someone on $1500 a week probably had different levels of financial commitment and some would struggle on a fixed payment. Always looking at the marketing hook (remember the black coffee mugs) they christened the payment JobKeeper but put conditions on the payment that it would reduce after some time and be eliminated towards the end of 2020 when the pandemic had gone away.

The states, fearing the effects of the calamity on their health systems of people infected with the pandemic coming into the country and straight out into the community volunteered to oversee the federal responsibility of mandatory quarantine of returning travellers in hotels because all but one of the government’s purpose-built quarantine facilities around the country were sold off years ago. Our ‘fearless leader’ imposed caps on the numbers of arrivals into the country. Our ‘fearless leader’ also agreed to look after the sourcing and purchasing of vaccines and to ensure that the pandemic didn’t run riot in aged care homes.

In June 2021, The Guardian was reporting that the management of the vaccine rollout was ‘a dog’s breakfast’. While the purchase of 1 million Pfizer COVID 19 doses from Poland, announced in August 2021 was helpful – it begs the question why a comparatively rich country such as Australia is scouring the world in the second half of 2021 looking or something it had the ability to reserve and purchase half way through 2020. Our first purchase of Pfizer was only made in November 2020 with additional purchases in February and April 2021. But there were still ‘back in the black’ coffee mugs for sale.

Aged care homes have been subject to visits by the pandemic on a number of occasions and unfortunately hundreds of residents have died ahead of their time, with little ability for their relatives to say goodbye, ensure that the resident was comfortable in their last moments on earth or, on a number of occasions, even attend the funeral. At the time of writing this, there are still significant dangers for residents of aged care homes as the staff were not vaccinated at the same time as the residents – and the staff are far more likely to pick the virus up in the community.

Some firms that received ‘JobKeeper’ funds chose to keep the funding even though they were fortunate enough to increase profit during the pandemic. For example, when Harvey Norman totted up their annual financial statements in July 2021, they found their profit increased by 116%. Did they return their $14.5million in ‘JobKeeper’ – not a chance. Who would have thought that people would be online shopping to purchase equipment for their ‘home office’ when they had been told to work from home?

The government’s response was the program was designed quickly to create the most stimulus and there was no mechanism to recover the funds from those that found out after the event they didn’t meet the criteria. Sounds like the same thing they pilloried the progressive side of politics for about a decade earlier. At the same time, the same conservative government considered chasing individuals who received JobKeeper as well as JobSeeker during the 2020/2021 Financial Year. In the government’s eyes this isn’t a correct and proper use of resources.

The story is pretty clear – the progressive political party really couldn’t market themselves out of a wet paper bag. The conservative political party is all about the marketing.

Anyone want a black coffee mug?

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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Spanish Flu, Covid and Vaccines

By Annasis Kelly

People seem to be very careless about just how important this pandemic is so I will use the information presented from the 1918 Spanish Flu (or H1N1) Pandemic as a reference. Now that one has been dubbed as the worse pandemic in recent human history with amount of approximately 50 million people dying of the virus worldwide. With 500 million people contracting the disease which was approximately one-third of the population of the world at the time. In a comparison of the Covid-19 virus, we have, to date, 227,026,185 people worldwide who have been confirmed with having contracted the virus. The United States is on the way to having more dead with Covid-19 than they did have with the Spanish Flu, with 678,183 dead and 42,222,673 cases. The reported number of deaths in the US with the Spanish Flu is about 675,000, though the number generally sits at between 500,000 – 850,000 or 0.48-0.81% and 105 million cases or 25% of the population.

To put into perspective, India has a total population of 1,391,942,558 people, yet has 33,380,522 cases and 444,278 deaths due to Covid-19. The US has 331,449,281 people and has 42,222,673 cases and 678,183 deaths. India has fewer deaths and cases than America despite them being more than 1,000,000,000 more people. Yet has less, despite having more areas prone to having sickness being able to run rapidly because of the conditions there.

Australia fares better than other places in the majority of the pandemics that we have had over the past 100 odd years, currently sitting at 82,202 cases and 1,138 deaths. Most of the cases are in Victoria and NSW with 25,591 cases, 826 deaths and 49,611 cases and 276 deaths respectively. Most of these cases are internationally contracted.

Now back in 1918 we didn’t have the medical information we have now. But the absolute basic information was used back then, with masks, social distancing and isolations.

“A later study found that measures such as banning mass gatherings and requiring the wearing of face masks could cut the death rate up to 50 percent, but this was dependent on their being imposed early in the outbreak and not being lifted prematurely.” (Bootsma MC, Ferguson NM (May 2007). “The effect of public health measures on the 1918 influenza pandemic in U.S. cities.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104 (18): 7588–93. Doi:10.1073/pnas.0611071104. PMC 1849868. PMID 17416677. S2CID 11280273).

In response to past pandemics, the scientific community had a calculation that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when the next pandemic was to hit, and sadly it hit in November 2019. So in preparation for this they had been developing a vaccine so when the time was right they were to be able to produce the vaccine and send it out in mass for the world. So all they needed to do was isolate the bit of information that was needed in order to create the vaccine. They have created a messenger to enter the cells via the RNA to address the issue. How that differs is; “Safety: Unlike live-attenuated or viral-vectored vaccines, mRNA is non-infectious and poses no concern for DNA integration – mainly because it cannot enter the nucleus which contains DNA. Other strategies such as protein-based or inactivated vaccines also require chemicals and cell cultures to produce. mRNA is made through a cell-independent process and does not require inactivation; thus, it poses no safety concerns due to contamination with toxic agents.” How does an mRNA vaccine compare to a traditional vaccine? (Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation). (https://t.co/KPGehAPYU2)

With the success of Covid-19 vaccines, the push for introducing the type of vaccine for the flu mRNA flu vaccines may face a sterner challenge than Covid-19.

The differences in how the vaccine was developed are why it seemed quicker to go from the lab to production. The fact that it is not reliant on live-attenuated or viral-vectored helps make the stages quicker. It is not dangerous because of this.

If you choose to not vaccinate that is your choice. I chose to vaccinate and have already received the first shot of Pfizer with a sore arm and currently a sore bump at the injection site. That is it. I do not feel ill in any manner.

 

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Is Albanese accepting nuclear subs?

By Darrell Egan

In a statement from Australian Shadow Defence Minster Brendan O’Connor’s office authorised from Labor Leader Anthony Albanese and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, Australian Labor appears to be accepting the nuclear powered submarine deal, with some house keeping checks as follows:

“While there is much that we welcome, it’s also clear that today’s announcement is the single biggest admission of failure on the part of the Morrison-Joyce Government over its $90 billion Future Submarines program.”

The Morrison-Joyce Government must also urgently explain:

  • The cost of this new plan.
  • The number of submarines to be built.
  • The impact of today’s announcement on local jobs and businesses.
  • The timeline for construction and delivery of the nuclear-powered submarine capability.
  • The impact on the Life of Type Extension (LOTE) of the Collins Class submarines.
  • How local skills and know how will be delivered through the biggest acquisition in Australia’s history.

 

 

With $4 Billion spent on his deal there will be sure to be further costs and a lot of political effort to be put into this project, how much money and political will be left for an Albanese government to follow through of Clean Energy jobs in the future, in now seemingly accepting this nuclear submarine deal with some conditions?

This issue will test principles or in a word of similar part meaning “Mana” in Maori in both sides of the Labor Pacific with Anthony Albanese’s counterpart Jacinda Ardern clearly stating New Zealand will not allow these nuclear submarines near in New Zealand territorial waters.

If a Labor government gets in accepting these nuclear submarines it will be interesting to see how this pans out with their Labor counterparts across the Pacific.

Albanese, along with Opposition Foreign Minister Penny Wong, in this statement seek to enhance greater ties with the AUKUS pact Scott Morrison has signed Australia on to.

New Zealand foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta

The AUKUS pact seeks to have a more militarily aggressive stance in building up forces in the South China Sea and the elephant in the room question is that will an Australian Labor government in accepting these nuclear submarines, have them deployed to the South China Sea in the decades these are deployed, putting Australia on a war footing?

In Foreign Policy terms in regards to AUKUS there is a stance on this issue regarding Australia’s Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong and New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta with the New Zealand Foreign Minister not wanting to expand Five Eyes remit let alone going along with AUSUS pact’s hawkish approach.

With New Zealand standing by traditional Labor values in relation to the nuclear issue and a strong stance on Nuclear Proliferation, even if the nuclear product for these submarines is produced off shore, we will see who prevails in this test of Labor Party Mana.

This article was originally published on Dazza Egan Australia & China Watch Journo.

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Morrison creating tensions with Asia and New Zealand

By Darrell Egan

Fresh from Scott Morrison’s announcement to go to Washington later this year after Australian Foreign Ministers Asia and Washington visit, he introduces nuclear submarines to Australia as part of AUKUS pact between Australia, Britain and the US to take a assertive military approach to China in the South China Sea.

It is likely this AUKUS (or ORCUS) nuclear submarine deal will see these pod of AUKUS nuclear submarines sent to the South China Sea, creating more heightened tensions between Australia and China from an already rapidly deteriorating relationship.

In a hawkish pivot to Asia with the AUKUS pact, US military aircraft and weapons are looking to be stored in Australia seemingly to support sending forces into the South China Sea.

In a further development the US has pulled out Patriot missiles which appears to be in line with a pivot to Asia military redeployment build up.

From China’s point of view they are surrounded by US military bases in South Korea and Japan, with weapons pointed at them including heavy M1 Howitzer guns with a 23 kilometre range which can hit their city of Xiamen.

 

Fleet of AUKUS Nuclear Submarines likely for use in South China Sea

 

The United States has the view they believe China cannot have primacy in the South China, sea citing freedom of navigation.

However the United States have not ratified on to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1994 freedom of navigation.

In a sign China which appears to have lessened an primacy in the South China Sea, legalities are being finalised this year on a gas joint venture between the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC).

New Zealand who is not a member of AUKUS and the Quadrilateral Dialogue Group and seems to be taking a more independent stance as a member of ANZUS Australia New Zealand United States co operation treaty.

Whilst New Zealand has a Pacific partnership with Australia, this nuclear submarine deal has created tension in the relationship with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has announced that Australian Nuclear submarines are not welcome in New Zealand.

In a statement reported in yesterday stated Nanaia Mahuta was uncomfortable with expanding the role of the Five Eyes intelligence reach in provoking tensions in the Asia Pacific region with China.

It appears New Zealand’s principals are being put to the test with this development.

In contact with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s media adviser with some informal discussions on the issue, there has yet to be a any further response from their office, into further formal statements.

In a statement sent to me by the office of the leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP, he conveyed:

“This move by Scott Morrison will make Australia and the region less safe with inciting a risk of conflict.”

Mirroring Adam Bandt’s comments condemning this move by Scott Morrison, ex Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating said this move trades away Australia’s Sovereignty and makes Australia’s defence policy solely dependent on the United States.

 

 

Paul Keating added further concern with Australia’s current strategy in relation to China and military escalation in the South china sea if we have a situation is another reckless style Donald Trump leader is elected in the next US elections.

The tensions in Scott Morrison’s move in the public and political realm in the Pacific is evident, in what appears to be very little discussion or debate with Australia’s most important Pacific partner before making his submarine buying deal which will give fresh indigestion to others.

This article was originally published on Dazza Egan Australia & China Watch Journo.

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Massive Decisions – Zero Transparency

Australians for War Powers Reforms Media Release

The Australian people and the national Parliament have been bypassed and side-lined in today’s massive announcements on defence and nuclear powered submarines.

That’s according to former diplomat and acting President of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR), Dr Alison Broinowski AM.

“The lack of transparency and accountability in today’s declaration from the Prime Minister is breath-taking.

“These decisions, which will have far reaching consequences were once again taken by a small group behind closed doors, with no input whatsoever from all our MP’s and Senators.

“There are already suggestions that the defence budget will need to be doubled to accommodate the plan. And this comes at a time when health, climate and an aging population will be demanding attention and extra funding.”

In addition to the lack of consultation AWPR has several serious concerns about the new pact. These include:

  • The plan is likely to inflame tensions with China thereby increasing the risk of conflict.
  • Prospective visits by US & UK nuclear-powered vessels to Australian ports for repair and resupply further militarises our region.
  • The pact could far more readily draw Australia directly into any conflict between the US and China over Taiwan.
  • The new pact could have an adverse impact on Australia’s relationship with New Zealand.
  • The plan keeps Australia tied to a world dominated by superpowers and takes us away from a genuinely independent foreign policy.
  • The submarine decision breaks the long held and accepted understanding that Australia is nuclear free. This decision alone requires serious discussion within the parliament and community.

Dr Alison Broinowski is available for interview.

 

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Evolutionary biologist urges us to save what’s left of our natural bushland

The University of Western Australia media statement

Why do kookaburras laugh? Why are fairy wrens so blue? Why do cicadas click in unison?

Professor Leigh Simmons, an evolutionary biologist from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences, explores the answers to all these questions and many more in a new book, Naturalist on the Bibbulmun.

Over the Noongar seasons of Kambarang and Birak (November to January) 2018-19 he walked the Bibbulmun Track with his son.

To distract from the rigours and sometimes painful realities of carrying 17kg across 1000km of WA’s remote bushlands, he documented the flora and fauna of the southwestern corner of Western Australia.

In Naturalist on the Bibbulmun, by UWA Publishing, he details his findings and much of the research discussed in the book was conducted by scholars at The University of Western Australia.

Director of UWA’s Centre for Evolutionary Biology, Professor Simmons has spent 40 years studying animal behaviour, ecology and evolution.

The book is a beginners’ guide to evolutionary and ecological processes, and an insight into the trials and tribulations of the long-distance walker. But perhaps more importantly it is a call to arms.

The South West of WA was recognised in 2000 as one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots – a region that is a significant reservoir of plant and animal species that is critically endangered.

A criterion to be part of the biodiversity hotspot club is that anthropogenic changes to the natural environment – through burning and clearing of land, and the warming and drying effects of human-induced climate change – have resulted in the loss of 70 per cent of the natural habitat.

And with human impact comes the loss of species of plants and animals that are unique to the region.

Professor Simmons believes now may be our last chance to witness and to save what remains of the ancient wilderness through which the Bibbulmun Track passes.

He hopes that his book will in some small way arouse a sense of country (boodja) and draw the reader into the small but growing mob who recognise the need to preserve the wilderness of this place, and of planet earth more widely.

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Australia now riding the US Quad Security Dialogue War Bike through Asia

By Darrell Egan

Hot on the heals of of Kamala Harris tour of South East Asia spouting that China is a nefarious influence in the region, whilst promoting that the US will not make South East Asian countries choose between China and the US, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is now on jumped on the Quad Security Dialogue bike for a ride through Asia.

The Quad Security Dialogue group bike as I refer is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group established in 2007 by ex Vice President Dick Cheney, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and ex Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh.

Dick Cheney as we know has had a war Hawk record in the false Weapons of Mass Destruction falsehood with John Howard coming on board dragging Australia into the Iraq war with the United States.

Shinzo Abe’s family side has also not had a good record in war. Sinzo Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was imprisoned for only three years as a Class A war criminal.

Nobusuke Kishi in his role in Imperial Japan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry he started the use of sex slave women in Japanese occupied Manchuria signing a law for the use of such slaves in 1937 which could be used by Japanese soldiers.

He oversaw the use of sex slave from Japanese occupied areas of China and south East Asia as Vic Minister of Commerce and Industry. Estimates of 360,000 to 400,000 sex slave comfort women were used by Imperial Japan in WW2 many of the female sex slaves were under aged.

 

 

After his light 3 year release Nobusuke Kishi he became a member of the Liberal Party in Japan and went on to be the Prime Minister of Japan in 1957.

China and most countries in Asia in general are in no hawkish mood for war, knowing the scourge and horrors of war in their region and on their home soil from WW2.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group call for a what they describe as a “Free and Open Indo Pacific.”

The cornerstone of this Quadrilateral Security Dialogue agreement is the statement of the enhancement of co operation with countries that share Japan’s Security interests in line with the US Japan alliance.

This is basically a Japan US hegemony in the Indo Pacific in a further effort to increase encirclement of China with US bases in South Korea, Japan, Philippines and the Marshall Islands with weapons pointed at China.

Added to this encirclement of China is the strike Force aircraft carriers in the South China Sea alongside with Australia’s Navy and US weapons pointed at China just under 10 kilometres off China’s coast on Kinmen Island near a bay on the coast of Xiamen China.

 

Kinmen Island location, and US M1 Howitzer on Kimen with 23 km range

 

These weapons can bombard China’s Xiamen Port city.

During his leadership from 2007 to 2010 previous Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd withdrew Australia from the Quad group for Australia to have a more independent approach to the Indo Pacific.

In a move taking Australia closer to re-joining the Quad Security Dialogue group former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard enhanced US and Australian co operation in regards to the Indo Pacific by allowing a US marines base near Darwin, even though there is not invasion threat in that region.

In 2017 former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took Australia back into the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group in co operation with former US president Donald Trump, Indian Prime Minister, Nerendra Modi and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Now with Australia back on the Quad bike, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is on a ride to Indonesia, India and South Korea before heading over to Washington to report.

Her itinerary includes meeting with Indonesia’s defence Minister Prabowo Subianto to discuss Australia’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement with Indonesia.

It has to be remembered in the Lombok Treaty between Australia and Indonesia signed in November 2006 between then Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Indonesia Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, the agreement forbids Australia supporting East Timor style Independence for West Papuans, who are enduring Indonesian occupation and Human Rights violation brutality by the Indonesian military.

The other part of Marise Payne’s trip is to meet up with South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Minister for National Defence Suh Wook to elevate Australia’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which include strategic military co operation with South Korea.

Indonesia and South Korea appear to be encouraged to jump on board Marise Payne’s Quad Security Dialogue bike.

Similar discussions will be held in India, then it is off to report to head office in Washington.

Marise Payne’s Quad Security Dialogue group bike ride through Asia will leave tracks of an elevated hawkish strategic military approach in Asia and more potential of military escalation than peace in the Indo Pacific.

This article was originally published on Dazza Egan Australia & China Watch Journo.

 

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Nature abhors a vacuum

By 2353NM

In the past year or so, most of us would have become quite familiar with the group of people that seem to front up almost daily to discuss the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in each Australian jurisdiction. Usually there are a couple of politicians ably backed up by the experts in public health management, a high-ranking commissioned Police Officer, with a person live translating the discussion into Auslan for the benefit of those with hearing difficulties.

To some extent, they have all become minor celebrities, demonstrated by when the Queensland Government’s usual Auslan interpreter seemed to disappear from view recently, it became a news story in itself. He was ok, but quarantined.

Generally, the Chief Health Officers give background to the decisions they have recommended, with a degree of frankness that is lacking from politicians. As examples, Dr Janette Young, Dr Kerry Chant, Prof Brett Sutton and Dr Nicola Spurrier are happy to discuss their recommendations at a level where you don’t have to be a medical professional or the holder of a science-based PhD to understand. They communicate clearly and explain not only the decision but the reasons for the decision and none of them seem to be afraid to suggest that they actually don’t know all the answers. The ‘experts’ are also happy to discuss what they hope will happen if the plan works as intended.

Why do the respective governments around Australia wheel out their Chief Health Officers and similar staff when there is a crisis to address? The pattern is not a new thing. Shane Fitzsimmons is remembered by many as the ‘head’ of the New South Wales Fire Service during the 2019/2020 bushfires explaining the how and why of fire management. Various meteorologists are also given the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to explain why floods and cyclones affect some areas and not others most summers. In general, the expert information provided appears to be free of spin, marketing and point-scoring. As such, the majority of people put a great deal of trust in the provided information.

There is a lesson here for politicians and reporters, a lot of whom are sharing the stages with the various Chief Health Officers and their ilk at the moment. Frank and fearless advice generally is better accepted than incessant marketing, spin, vacuous promises and claims that cannot be either substantiated or supported. While there are certainly people who think the ‘experts’, reporters and the politicians are in cahoots to force us all into submission by the ‘lizard people’, most of us can understand frank advice and assess that we really should act upon it even if we find the actions irritating, annoying or difficult to comply with.

In contrast, Prime Minister Morrison determined that the dealings of the ‘national cabinet’ (which really are regular meetings of the Prime Minister and each state’s Premier/Chief Minister) should be secret. There has always seemed to be some ambiguity around the consensus achieved in ‘national cabinet’ meetings which suggests there isn’t always agreement. It is rare for the Premiers and Chief Ministers to be on the same stage as Morrison when the ‘national cabinet report’ is being presented.

Morrison’s justification for the secrecy is his decree that the ‘national cabinet’ was a committee of the Federal Government. It seems that others disagreed, with Senator Rex Patrick taking the government to court to gain access to ‘national cabinet’ documentation. The judge agreed with Senator Patrick that the justification for secrecy was invalid. The government had 30 days to appeal and on past history it probably will.

In comparison, the level of compliance with the patient and logical discussions by the medical experts who ‘stand up’ every day to go through the reasons for the restrictions in all our lives demonstrates that most of us can handle the truth even if it isn’t what we want to hear. It also seems that most of us can rationalise that some restrictions on our personal ‘freedoms’ help ourselves and others in our community, despite the claims of some who should know better.

A culture of secrecy does have consequences. If we don’t have the information there are a multitude of people who will make it up for a variety of reasons, including self-aggrandisement or to promote their own view of the world. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, people will fill information gaps caused by secrecy with ‘information’ that might be correct, but more than likely will not.

Open and honest communication demonstrates there is nothing to hide. It’s about time our politicians and reporters tried it. After all, they know the process works as they have been nearby spectators as it is demonstrated almost every day for over a year by the specialist staff employed to maintain public health.

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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Organic Farming is the Nature-Based Solution to combat climate change

Centre for Organic Research & Education: Media Release

The effects of global climate change have become more apparent and devastating in recent years, through changes in average temperatures and more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as severe droughts and floods. This creates a severe impact on global food systems which reduces food production in drier regions.

To combat this, it is not enough to produce food that minimises harm to the plant, we also need to produce food in ways that actively restore the health of the planet. This can be achieved by actively adopting Nature-based Solutions in agriculture such as organic farming, which can lead the transition to a regenerative and nature-positive food system and move away from existing methods of conventional farming practices.

Nature-based Solutions in agriculture seek to maximize the ability of nature to establish ecosystems that help enhance climate change adaptation, disaster-risk reduction, and food production. Organic farming practices have proven to deliver multiple benefits when deployed correctly, supporting natural systems of regeneration, mitigating climate change, and enhancing nature and biodiversity.

The practice of organic farming has these benefits to the environment:

  1. Reduce the environment’s exposure to pesticides and chemicals that can cause long term contamination in the soil and water supply.
  2. Promote a sound state of health and resilience for the farmland – Using compost as organic fertilizer promotes soil organic matter and fertility which will boost biological activity within the soil.
  3. Combats soil erosion and degradation – organic farming builds healthy soil and helps combat serious soil and land issues, such as erosion
  4. Encourages water health – organic farming helps keep water supplies clean by stopping polluted runoff from toxic fertilizers and pesticides.
  5. Promotes biodiversity – organic farming encourages healthy biodiversity, which can influence how resilient farmland is to issues like harsh weather, disease, and pests.

Mr Eric Love, Chairman of the Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE), says; “Astute scientists and community members around the world realise that climate actions are a race to save mankind from the consequences of intensifying devastating forces of nature already evident around the world. So too is eliminating the waste of our valuable, finite resources in landfill. The circular economy is a recent description of the waste hierarchy of ‘Reduce, Reuse Recycle.’ Decreasing food waste must include this multi-pronged approach because the amount of food we waste is unbelievable.”

“While the waste of food goes beyond just individuals and business owners, there are so many things we can all do today to start making a real difference. At the same time as reducing environmental impacts we can save a considerable amount of money by reducing overbuying and portion sizes, reusing left over food and ensuring we recycle everything we don’t consume,” says Mr Love.

“The equivalent of One in five shopping bags full end up in the bin. This is equivalent to $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year,” continues Mr Love. The Australian Government estimates food waste costs the Australian economy $20 billion each year. Over 5 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill, enough to fill 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.

“Rotting food in landfill produces methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas” Mr Love says. “For every tonne of food waste in landfill, a tonne of CO2-e greenhouse gas is generated. When we waste food, we also waste the natural resources that go into making it, like land, water, energy, nutrients and carbon.”

As the Gold Sponsors of National Organic Week, Marketing Director for “Spiral Foods” and “Aurelio by Riverina Grove,” Raphaelle Wilson said; “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the National Organic Week for Spiral Foods and Aurelio. We’ve always supported good quality organic products and to have a week to celebrate the organic industry in Australia is fantastic and a great reminder of how far the industry has come.”

National Organic Week (NOW) will be held from 20th September to 26th September in Australia this year. The Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE), who championed this cause in Australia for the past 16 years is urging everyone to get involved by organising or participating in organic events held by your local community.

Events can be registered and promoted on the official NOW event calendar.

Another way you can promote and support organic products is to vote in the annual Organic Consumer Choice Awards (OCCA’s). These awards promote and reward the best organic stakeholders around the country. The OCCA’s is the only industry organic awards program decided solely by consumers. Online voting will open to the public from 20th September to 19th October on the National Organic Week website.

 

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Will the Prime Minister pick up his phone to call China regarding his racist screw up?

By Darrell Egan

With every problem the Morrison government encounters the Prime Minister will reply that he does not hold the item relating to the probe.

Regarding the issue of international students from China confidence in Australia when the Morrison government decides to implement their vaccine passport and allow international students back, it has to be asked will Morrison say; “I do not hold a phone mate.”

Universities Australia have projected Australia will lose $16 billion out of the university sector alone by 2023 due to COVID.

This does not account for what international students bring into our hospitality and tourism sectors. With Chinese international students making up over 30 per cent of Australia’s international student intake this is a large chunk to go missing from our international student sector.

Whilst Scott Morrison may flirt with the idea of an intake of international students from India to fill this void there are some challenges which include India’s COVID numbers, which has reached 3.3 million cases with over 44,000 deaths. With roughly the same population, China’s COVID cases sits just above 95,000 with just above 4,600 deaths. Even if China’s figures were double for the sceptic its is still much lower than India’s.

We also need to look at India’s student visa trust level which is below China has now remained at level 3 since 2019. This level is there for a reason and restricts Indian students to the variety of courses they are permitted to study in Australia.

China sits at level 2 in student visa applications with many students from China returning home for employment and a less risk in flouting student visa rules in relation to overstaying.

Australia still remains a trust issue in regards to many international students from China in relation to the issue of COVID inspired racism.

In early June 2020 there was nearly 400 reported cases of anti-Chinese racist attacks and many unreported.

Anti-China sentiment has not eased and this can be an uneasy environment for international students to study in.

When the Chinese government raised concerns to the federal government regarding vulnerable international students at the time of these almost anti-China 400 racist attacks Scott Morrison branded these concerns as rubbish in response. He went on to respond that Australia will not be bullied in regards to international students.

To an informed observer or a person who does not need an empathy consultant there seems nothing rubbish and bullying about asking for issues of racism to be addressed.

In 2018 when now Trade Minister Simon Birmingham was Education Minister with the Turnbull government there was similar concerns from the Indian government regarding some racist attacks on Indian students.

Rather than a hostile dismissive response, Malcolm Turnbull and Simon Birmingham picked up the phone to the Indian government, then organises trip to India to address the concerns and secure Australia’s International Student confidence.

With Australia’s university sectors facing a projected $16 billion dollar loss by 2023, it is time for Scott Morrison to hold a phone and call to China.

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With her state heading for disaster, Gladys bails on NSW

By Matthew Reddin

For weeks, Gladys Berejiklian has warned that things will get worse. She just announced that she won’t be doing daily press conferences.

There’s this ongoing trend that echoed throughout the online world during the Trump presidency: Imagine if Obama said (or did) this? Imagine the outrage, the scorn, the villagers with torches and pitchforks if he did/said this. But the thing is, you couldn’t imagine it, because he’d never say or do anything as remotely objectionable, crazy or flat-out offensive as Trump would. But a different standard was applied to Trump than was Obama, for whatever reason. There are volumes of books to be written on it and what’s behind it (spoiler alert: it has something to do with pigment).

This is what occurred to me, as a Victorian, as an Australian, as a sentient human this morning upon hearing that Gladys Berejiklian, presiding over a monumental failure to act, a failure of procedure and oversight, the consequences of which have stretched up, down and across the eastern seaboard, has decided that as of Monday, her daily press briefings will be done online, by some low-level bureaucrat, until such time as she has something to say.

Which could be never, let’s be frank about it.

I mean, FUCKING IMAGINE IF DAN ANDREWS HAD DONE THE SAME THING. Truth be told, you can’t, because he actually showed up and did his job, and would have known that there are consequences for not doing his job; Gladys is of the political stripe where there simply aren’t consequences for her doing anything, ever – nor for her federal counterpart.

Gladys announced 1,542 cases (double the highest number of cases Victoria ever recorded during the 2020 outbreak) and basically said her work here was done. “Can’t someone else do it?” she asked someone, probably, in between being insanely corrupt and blithely contemptuous.

Samantha Maiden from News.com.au called it as she saw it. I’m guessing she’ll be fairly alone in that stable for criticizing the NSW leader.

 

 

The ABC’s Patricia Karvelas was also less than impressed.

 

 

Katherine Murphy from The Guardian did the Twitter equivalent of a spit take.

 

 

And while some in the press are going to laud the decision (laughable), it’s a pretty good shibboleth for who among them we all should ignore from here on in. The Andrews press conferences in 2020 were keeping the state informed; at a time when information was vital for our emotional and psychological wellbeing. Those pressers were sustaining, if difficult to endure once the floor opened to pernicious and stupid questions from the likes of The Australian’s Rachel Baxendale and Sky News’ Gabriella Power.

Berejiklian, on the other hand, seems to have accepted the fact that she’s royally fucked up, can’t think of any way around it, and wants to hide under the bedding until such a time as she can come out. At the point, she’ll emerge dole out some PR-spun horseshit about 70% double dosing and freedoms and picnics and how we all did this together.

Yet, Berejiklian has been foreshadowing the pandemic in NSW was going to get to its worst, its toughest; that the hospital system would be stretched to its elastic limit in October, based on modelling the NSW Health Department had prepared. Modelling, by the way, she’s not been very forthcoming with. So, knowing that the state is headed for a cliff, she’s essentially jumped out of the driver’s seat to get a better view of the spectacle.

“I’ll turn up when I need to,” are words that emerged from her sneering maw today.

We should have seen this coming. It was all there: first, they stopped their Covid hotspots announcements. Then, they essentially abandoned contract tracing. Reports started emerging of people dying at home. And all that deeply, deeply offensive talk of “underlying health conditions” (which, for the record aren’t what killed them; the disease did – John F. Kennedy had crippling back pain and irritable bowel syndrome, but you didn’t read the Warren Commission mention any “underlying health conditions” when talking about how he died). Then there are people not going to the hospital and dying in their homes. There’s talk of the health system collapsing, meaning if the emergency wards are too full of Covid patients, you’d best not have a heart attack, or have a car accident, or slip on the pavement, or get hit by a bolt of lightning. Because Gladys has all but runs away from the slightest hint of public accountability.

Knowing that the state is headed for a cliff, Gladys has essentially jumped out of the driver’s seat to get a better view of the spectacle.

It would be totally fine for the NSW opposition leader to hold alternative press conferences at 11.00 am instead. They could stand there, read out the laundry list of the Berejiklian government’s abject, morbidly offensive shortcomings and failures, and the media would – by and large – show up and cover it. They have to cover something. (Phil Coorey may give it a swerve, having already penned the vomit-inducing Financial Review magazine cover story, ‘The Woman Who Saved Australia’).

The Labor opposition could front up on a daily basis with representatives of the state’s front-line workers, like nurses, teachers, and everyone else who is essential, advocating for those who seem to have been abandoned by this government, such as Aboriginal & disability communities, or GPs for that matter, as well as mental health experts. They could be the ones that convey the hard data, the facts we need to hear, the insights as to what’s happening in circles of power, and what the road forward looks like.

And people would watch. It’d get coverage, and in the absence of anything else, it would paint Berejiklian and her government in a bad light, and negative publicity is kryptonite to her. It’s further proof that all of these decisions, from both Berejiklian and Morrison alike, from lockdowns to vaccines and everything else, has been about polls and vanity from day one. It’s pathetic. They’re pathetic. Elections have consequences.

 

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

 

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