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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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20 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    To change a shrivelled pod of uselessness in a defective superstition drenched regressive P M, a Pathetic Misfit, for another or DIFFERENT but disgustingly similar one, would be a continuation of error, a fatally stupid act to succeed our current wounding, Australia stinks on a world stage, for its brainless populace, its policies of obsolescent self satisfaction, its treacherous and pseudo cunning stunts. No fair go now, not with bludging donors cashing in and up of taxpayer funds grossly misdirected, ministerial lack of basic standards and abilities, and a general hopeless social, financial, political navigation. Conservatives cannot and will not plan, enact, build, share and explain, never. Greed…Ego…

  2. New England Cocky

    Friedeggburgher has about as much political charisma as a dead mullet. This would make him no threat to Scummo who has even less political nous.

    It’s tie!! ….. AGAIN!!

  3. Jack sprat

    What’s going on with fraudenberg’s facial expressions, it always looks like he is trying to have a bowel movement but nothing is happening .

  4. James Robo

    Where are the peace songs to challenge our leaders to think twice before humanity is sacrificed to radiation sickness?

  5. Tessa_M

    Those new submarines can easily have nuclear weapons fitted. Germany manufactures Israeli submarines and they soon have nuclear weapons added by a country which has not signed the nuclear weapons proliferation agreement.

  6. Selina

    How could war bring peace to humanity in an era of nuclear weapons from stealth submarines?

  7. Leila

    Great of Retired Admiral Chris Barrie to support The International Day of Peace in a nationwide zoom address. Humanity is still suffering from that Great War a century ago and the lost lives in the Spanish flu pandemic.

  8. Neilwal

    Daniel Ellsberg, Doomsday Machine review: ”Another lie uncovered by Ellsberg concerns breaches of a US undertaking never to introduce or station nuclear weapons in Japan. During his inspection of US bases in 1960, Ellsberg discovered that San Joaquin County, an American Landing Ship Tank (LST) permanently moored in the US naval base at Iwakuni, was a storage facility of hydrogen bombs for US Navy ships and aircraft. Its presence was kept secret from the Japanese, who would have called for the withdrawal of the LST and the abrogation of the US Japan Security Treaty. The LST was not withdrawn from Iwakuni until ordered out by Kennedy’s new ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer in 1966” https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/reading-room-the-doomsday-machine/

  9. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Both President Biden and President Xi have made inclusive speeches to the General Assembly. These addresses are easily accessed.

    https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/09/21/world/un-general-assembly (NY Times coverage of Biden’s address without the usual editorial bias
    from the Murdoch Press in Australia.

    President Xi’s Online Address from Rev: https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/chinese-president-xi-jinping-un-general-assembly-2021-speech-transcript

    It is disappointing when leaders like our Josh Frydenberg ask for more commitment to militarism for domestic political gain. Do look at the text of his address to the Crawford Policy Forum to assess the situation for yourself:

    https://joshfrydenberg.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Treasurer-Speech-Building-Resilience-and-the-Return-of-Strategic-
    Competition-ANU-Crawford-Leadership-Forum-6-September-2021.pdf

    Extract from Josh Frydenberg’s Address: “Today, however, I would like to focus on another key global challenge.

    One that is reshaping our external environment. And our domestic policies.

    I am referring to the return of strategic competition.

    Strategic competition that is increasingly playing out in the economic arena.

    Further blurring the lines between economics, politics and national security.

    In many ways, Australia is on the frontline of this new strategic competition.”

    Some Alternatives to this Opportunism:

    Article i of the ANZUS Treaty (1951-52) insisted on the ideal of the UN Charter and UN Procedures to settle global disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

    President Biden repeated that commitment at the General Assembly (NY Times) (22 September 2021):

    “Calling for the world to make the use of force “our tool of last resort, not our first,” he defended his decision to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan, a chaotic withdrawal of American troops that left allies blindsided.

    Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed by the force of arms,” he said. “Bombs and bullets cannot defend against Covid-19 or its future variants.”

    Our Josh Frydenberg is well qualified to review his prepared briefs. Does he really belive in what he is saying? Or is Australian foreign policy just blanant electioneering, more financial burdens for future generations and enhanced risks of potential nuclear war with our most profitable and sustainable commercial partner-China.

  10. Lara

    Thanks Denis. I liked President Biden’s hopeful speech to the UN General Assembly. It had a hopeful tone.

  11. Lara

    Thanks Denis: Bring on the Age of Aquarius (5th Dimension)

  12. Andrew J. Smith

    Interesting on Frydenberg and issues, i.e. round access to automatic foreign citizenship, precluding sitting in national parliament (whole campaign and its inspiration is still whiffy IMO); one would guess he does not need that resurrected again……

    First is the old narrow definition of ‘automatic citizenship’, it simply does not happen anywhere as it requires an application with supporting documentation (where possible), then processing and approval, based upon parents citizenship; think Hungary allowed former Jewish citizens to apply during socialist times (assume good relations with Israel) able to use Synagogue records to support.

    Sure many of the thousands of Hungarian Israeli dual citizens, due to parents’ Hungarian heritage, would be surprised to learn that Frydenberg and the Libs claim it’s impossible due to not having formal Hungarian documentation upon departure, forced or otherwise, of Jewish parents during WWII……

  13. Stella

    Denis, thanks for a really interesting article about China-US relations. I found it interesting that business connections remain strong.

  14. Indigo

    Why do clever leaders like Josh Frydenberg toe the Party Line so loyally?

  15. rubio@central coast

    Like Boris Johnson, Josh Frydenberg is using populist symbols to steal support from the battlers of the regions and disadvantaged suburbs. Seats like Page and Robertson should be solidly Labor.

    Instant news has become infotainment with careful use of fear strategies to develop support for the misuse of funds for defence projects Labor needs leaders who can outsmart this false style of media communication. Who wants to identify with a New Israel of the Pacific with Frydenberg as leader or some other agents of the Murdoch press?

    As GL tells us, Josh is not smart but canny. Watch out everyone. The LNP is already in election mode to sell its support for the military industrial complexes as patriotism when it is actually folly in the traditions of elite clowns like Boris Johnson who degrade academic qualifications for political gain.

    In Britain, Angela Rayner (Labour Deputy) is prepared to challenge this elitism on behalf of her working class constituents. More of this is required.

  16. Chris

    Nuclear war is not prevented by more weapons and missiles. Why is the LNP so keen about this agenda.

  17. DrakeN

    @ Chris

    The “Rapture” after “The End of Times”?

  18. George Theodoridis

    Frys for PM? Why not, if Scata can do it why not Frys? It’s the LNP after all. Any spud and suppository can do it!

  19. Indigo

    I expected something better from Sir Josh!!! Real leadership should be above petty politics and point scoring about perceived international threats??? Does the LNP have a peace agenda???

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