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Tag Archives: AUKUS

Dutton’s bid for nuclear power: hoax or reckless endangerment?

It’s incredible. Such is our love-in with Peter “Junkyard” Dutton, our former Border Overlord, who used to play the bad cop dispensing rough justice–doing whatever it took to keep us safe-that today, he’s being cheered by most of the press gallery for reckless endangerment in his punt on nuclear energy.

Is it just to please his sponsor, Gina Rinehart and other richly attractive mining oligarchs who will make a few extra billion out of delaying the end of coal-fired power generation? Even if they do hasten the end of the world, they do get to star in their own perverted, planet-destroying mother of all snuff movies?

Or… brace yourself- does “Dutts” blunt truth and other fiction’s pin up boy-harbour ulterior motives?

Of course. A whiff of Emu Field, Montebello and Maralinga on the campaign trail helps with Coalition branding and product differentiation. “I’m with nuclear, stupid” would be a killer of an election slogan. Albo and Dutts could get together to whip up a referendum for the next federal democracy sausage BBQ. Besides, no-one in the nuclear power side hustle isn’t also itching to develop his or her own nuclear weapon cycle. Nuclear energy only makes sense if you are a nuclear arms manufacturer.

And what a boon for democracy. Voters choose between the pro-mining, colliery-opening, Labor Party and the pro-mining right-wing rump of a moribund Liberal Party, only in the race because of its secret agreement with the National Party, a mob of pro-mining, faux populists who pose as saviours of The Bush and its battlers, such as Riverview Old Boy, Barnaby Thomas Gerald Joyce’s Weatherboard Nine.

Or Bob Katter’s family which includes the incredibly successful arms manufacturer, son-in-law Rob Nioa.

Nuclear is also a feint in the climate wars. Let’s talk tactics. Team Dutton can say that Labor is on the right track but has “no credible pathway” unless you have nuclear energy in the brew, firming up your mix. The Liberal Party plays the front end of the Coalition panto horse; the Nationals bring up the rear.

And just as he did after defeat in Aston, Dutton dashes into nuclear after his Dunkley debacle. Note he’s now a big reactor man, having got the email that small modular reactors are scarce as rocking-horse manure. It’s a revolutionary turn. A year or so ago, Dutts opposed, “the establishment of big nuclear facilities”. But being a conservative in Australian politics means, you don’t have to explain or apologise.

Nor do you have to heed our scientists. “… the CSIRO has made clear, large reactors are too large for our small grids, and small reactors are still unproven commercially.”

Smear them. Say it’s a discredited study.

Sean Kelly sees Dutton’s pro-nuclear vision as a way of buying unity. Nobody on Dutton’s team thinks it’s a real policy, he claims, and it’s a long-term fantasy, so they won’t buck Dutton’s wilful stupidity. He’s sniping at CSIRO, too, which always wins friends amongst a growing anti-science brigade, a resource tapped into shamelessly by such figures as, “planter saint”, Barnaby Joyce; off his nut about the “green peril”. The former deputy PM also calls windmills, “filth” whilst renewable energy is a “swindle”.

The Coalition attack on CSIRO parallels its harassment of a now cowed ABC, on which it inflicted a barrage of criticism, funding cuts and Morrison’s captain’s pick of Ita Buttrose as chair. Cutbacks in the CSIRO have also taken their toll but their CEO, Professor Doug Hilton publicly rebukes Dutton.

“For science to be useful and for challenges to be overcome it requires the trust of the community. Maintaining trust requires scientists to act with integrity. Maintaining trust also requires our political leaders to resist the temptation to disparage science.”

Kelly might add that the Coalition is riven by at least ten factions, post-Morrison, and has rivals hatching plots of helping their leader by taking his job away from him. One of these, with some experience of edged weapons, is former SAS Patrol Commander, Captain Andrew Hastie who must have been cheered when in 2017 the AFP cleared of war crimes, an SAS soldier who cut the hands off two suspected Taliban fighters. Handy Andy was in command of some other soldiers at the scene. Hastie’s mentor is none other than party kingmaker, Big Mining Shill and fellow happy clapper, the Nationals’ John Anderson.

A spill now could avoid some bloodletting in the next federal election, a surgical strike, perhaps.

Rex Patrick sees Peter Dutton’s move as a “nasty” political wedge given that the federal Labor government has already signed us on to Morrison’s AUKUS which guarantees a small modular nuclear reactor inside a submarine moored near you if you happen to live close to HMAS Stirling Naval Base in Perth, the Osborne Naval Shipyards in Adelaide, SA or the yet to be opened mystery envelope containing only three options, Sydney Harbour, Wollongong/ Port Kembla or Newcastle.

Hint. The Royal Australian Navy berths in Sydney Harbour.

Moreover, the disposing of nuclear waste is also well in hand, notes Patrick.

“In the last few months, we’ve seen a bill introduced into the Parliament by the Labor Government that legalises the acceptance of nuclear waste from the UK and US and provides the Government with the power to nominate any place in Australia as a nuclear waste site, with no requirement to consult with local communities or other interested groups.”

In the bigger picture, AUKUS depends upon a gamble that nuclear power will be the naval fuel of the future. And the even bigger gamble that submarines are not yet obsolete. Yet even today it’s uneconomic and fraught with a perplex of disposal and safety issues. Dutts the Kiwi Bikie Gangster Deporter, Dual Citizenship-Stripper, Dole-bludger-buster, or the African Gang vigilante; dog-whistling racism, fear and division, demonising the other, is as complex as the next bloke. But he is not a big ideas man. Fizza Turnbull has never heard Peter propose a single constructive idea.

Dutton’s mentor, John Howard was rarely troubled by big ideas either. But now, Dutton is calling for “a mature debate™” on a nuclear energy, we don’t need, can’t afford, could never rely on and can’t fuel. We’d be importing expensive fuel rods we can’t make at home for reactors which would never be built in time (without a slave labour workforce like the UAE) to replace our rapidly clapped-out coal-fired plant.

The latest that coal burner stations will be decommissioned is 2038. We couldn’t get atomic energy working until at least the 2040s. But let’s not let practicality get in the way of progress. We are already being sold a mythical new generation of reactor, now that the small, modular model has imploded.

Whoever is backing the Coalition’s nuclear crusade, however dark, the money trail, we can expect a litany of lies about the most expensive, unsafe and least reliable energy, we could hope for.

Nuclear energy lacks the flexibility we need to switch around a modern grid. It cannot “firm” renewables. Even if we could change the laws of every state and territory which currently make nuclear reactors illegal – because of the risk to the environment and to public health. And welch on our obligations as global citizens under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, (NPT).

And that’s before we get to solve the problems of where to build our reactors or what to do with their toxic waste. Of course, we could grovel to the US; beg to join the nuclear arms production club. Experts have tried. Why repeat the humiliation of public refusal?

Above all, a nuclear reactor is not emissions free once you tot up the cost of the long and complex build and once you factor in the cost of a long decommissioning – plus transporting live and spent fuel rods or factor transportation emissions to the equation.

“In one life cycle study, Netherlands-based World Information Service on Energy (WISE) calculates that nuclear plants produce 117 grams of CO2 emissions per KWH. Other studies have similar findings.”

Given the cost, nuclear power plants would be possible only with massive government subsidies. In 2023, the French government had to nationalise its nuclear power industry, responsible for generating seventy per cent of its energy. France has had a mere seventy-eight years in which to make nuclear energy pay its way. But who gives a fig about the experience of a major nuclear nation?

Instead of slogans about reliability and endurance, why not heed the US example where twenty plants had to be shut down well before they reached the claimed forty-year life span? Mostly, the failures are in the steam generators but there’s also a built-in source of degradation.

“In addition to normal industrial wear-and-tear, nuclear plants have the unique and often irreparable liability of having their components continually exposed to varying levels of radiation. Over time, radiation embrittles and/or corrodes the infrastructure (metal components in particular) and will eventually lead to structural failure.”

Yet Dutts is up for a debate which will help us decide whose reactors will come into our national grid and the circumstances in which they come. His “debate” will kill time while global heating soars and the owners of coal-fired plants and other Liberal donors are laughing all the way to the bank.

Is Spud, a paperback Howard? The same message but less weight? Lech Blaine sees him that way, even if that’s unfair given that John Winston Howard never betrayed any intellectual breadth or depth. Under Dutts, the Coalition is “One Nation Lite”, says Tasmanian Liberal, MP for Bass, Bridget Archer. Both are helpful assessments of his character but it would be fatal to underestimate Dutton’s tactical nous.

After denouncing The Voice, as a conspiracy of elites against ordinary Australians, stoking race, immigration and gender culture wars, the LNP knight-errant is off on a new, nuclear-powered, pseudo-populist quest to help make Australia hate again. His minders borrow from the Trump playbook.

There is something eerily familiar about Dutton 2.0’s crazy-brave new world, in which old hatreds blaze anew in a series of assaults on reason, decorum, parliamentary convention, renewables and CSIRO. Truth. It’s a world where a “reasoned debate” about nuclear energy is code for stalling to keep coal.

Blaine sees Dutton as a Tony Abbott without the Rhodes Scholarship and bizarre religious hangups. And without, we must add, the St Ignatius Riverview elite private school old-boy power network.

Ambitious and strategic, Dutton would rather be a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Yet LNP history is littered with con men who’ve posed as strong men. In 2015, after rave reviews from his own comms department on Border Protection, the fabulist, Scott Morrison, styled himself as the “tough cop” on the welfare beat. But what ensued was a politically expedient, vindictive cruelty towards the poor and vulnerable.

Dutton does love Big Mining. In April 2010, Labor proposed to tax mining companies’ super-profits. This would kill mining overnight, Abbott ranted. Yet it’s impossible to see how. In the five years to 2020, the top fossil fuel mining companies were paying little or no tax, reports Michael West.

Yet The Liberals’ scare campaign had to hit pause, briefly, because Dutton had bought shares in BHP just after the policy announcement. As you do. “I bought them to put in the bottom drawer,” he says.

Is Dutt’s the thinking man’s Pauline Hanson? Currently undertaking a reverse ferret on nuclear energy, the goose-stepping Coalition is taking such a hard right turn that it’s back to budgie-smuggling.

Only with added hyperbole. Forget the $100 lamb roast or Whyalla being wiped off the map, it’s how renewables will steal a third of Australia’s agricultural land.

So, says, Queen Gina Rinehart, The AFR’s 2024 “Business Person of the Year”, who with 12 million hectares here and in the USA, is also the world’s biggest individual landholder.

Renewables may take up 0.27%. But Ms Rinehart said her “meticulous research” is done by The IPA to whom, she is a major donor. As Richard Ackland notes,

“This, once again, is a glimmer into how the world works. Rino gives the Institute pots of money garnered from publicly owned quarry assets, the institute then concocts “research” favourable to her interests, which she publicly proclaims to be “meticulous”.”

Dutts is hell-bent on steering his crew back to a Tony Abbott future of opposing everything Labor proposes. Onion-breath-opposition for its own sake. Especially on energy. Take a bow Big Ted O’Brien. Federal shadow minister for Climate change and Energy and Fortescue Metals shareholder, the LNP’s beige cardigan, Ted O’Brien could be a younger Scott Morrison’s body double.

Ted’s certainly a spiritual twin in his industrial-strength hypocrisy.

In 2019, Mr O ‘Brien chaired a committee which found that:

“Australia’s rich renewable energy sources are more affordable and bring less risk than the elevated cost and risk associated with nuclear energy,”

Federal Minister for Fairfax, a Gold Coaster who was pipped by 53 votes by white-shoe brigadier, Clive Palmer in 2013, a legend in his own lunch-bucket, who set a new national record for MP least likely to show up to work in 2014, O’Brien is a dead ringer for the former member for Cook, Scott “no mates” Morrison, whose farewell dinner at the Shire is “adjourned” because none of those invited would show up. Perhaps they turned up to Ted’s party instead. “Time for Ted” was his election slogan.

Yet not only is Edward Lyneham O’Brien, the spitting image of Scott John Morrison, with less hair loss but he also sounds just like him. Listen to him bull-doze his host, ABC 7:30’s Sara Ferguson, badgering her with non-sequiturs. Sound-bites. Lies about non-existent small, modular nuclear reactors. Labour refusing to have a mature debate. How Australia has some of the highest energy prices in the world. Premature evacuation.

“We should not be closing our coal-fired power stations prematurely.”

Most of our coal-burners are clapped-out already, AEMO reports and will expire well before we’re ready with nuclear replacements – or the wiring required. Ten have shut since 2012 and the remainder may be wound up three times faster than their operators say.

The smug, arrogance is at play, too. Not only is Ted right about how nuclear energy will firm up the grid, hopelessly flaccid under woke solar, wind and batteries, he’s doing us a favour in pointing it out.

Be a breeze to get the odd SMR up and running over Easter. Just copy the bijou miracle of the UAE, an iconic dictatorship and a triumph of can-do capitalism, reliant on South Korean funding and millions of migrant slave-workers, mainly from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

So US giant Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in 2017 following its disastrous reactor construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia? There’s always the UK.

OK, Britain’s nuclear power industry went bankrupt years ago. France bought it, then the French nuclear industry went bankrupt. In Gallic desperation, it has now been fully nationalised – just to keep it going. Expensive. The South Korean utility KEPCO which achieved a miraculously quick nuclear installation for the UAE which the Coaltions keen to tell us about, is in big trouble. Its debt is now A$224 billion.

So? We could look to Japan. Japan’s nuclear industry never recovered from Fukushima.

“By giving in to the climate deniers and nuclear cheerleaders in his own show, Dutton shows his preparedness to consign the Australian community to an expensive, disaster-prone, and dangerous future for the sake of protecting his own position,” Labor’s Josh Wilson says.

But that’s only half the story. Dutton’s nuclear dream is a dead cat on the table to distract us from his Dunkley debacle. When he proposes a debate, the last thing he wants is us to have a conversation. The debate will help keep fossil fuel giants in the play; delay the uptake of renewables. Make billions for Gina Rinehart, whose businesses are flat-lining right now. The LNP is big on corporate welfare.

But beyond the tactics of Labor-baiting and the politics of diversion and the need for Dutton to keep himself safe from the empty chair he defeated in the last Liberal spill, lurks the original – and only – economic rationale of nuclear power – as an adjunct to a nuclear arms industry.

Add in the (now-delayed) AUKUS submarines which need to refuel in Australia and the fake debate which the Opposition leader is calling for could be gazumped by an agile federal government with an honest and open conversation. Professor Matthew Kearnes, Professor of Environment and Society in the UNSW School of Humanities and Languages, observes,

“When we say ‘We need to talk about nuclear technology’, it matters who speaks and who is in the room to be a part of that conversation. If we are going to have a conversation then it needs to be an open one where there are lots of possible inputs into that discussion.”

What we don’t need is the fog of obfuscation and deceit, Peter Dutton’s team is intent on giving us instead. Call his bluff, Labor. Have a real conversation. Be time to even whip up a bit of a plebiscite. But one with all the facts spelled out in writing.

 

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Morrison’s Coup De Grâce

“Human beings are social beings, who need to be able to rely on each other. That requires trust, and trust requires truth-telling.” (Quassim Cassam).

Grace Tame looks daggers as the PM fakes cordiality and avuncular affability for the camera. A black belt in subterfuge, deception and betrayal, ScoMo™ has also mastered the dark political art of baring his top teeth whilst feigning conviviality, positively radiating goodwill and patent insincerity. His office invites 2022 finalists for Australian of the Year for a cup of tea and photo opportunity at The Lodge, his Canberra pad – on occasions when his main place of residence Kirribilli doesn’t suit.

It also sets ScoMo™ up to pretend to Brisbane 4BC, later, that Ms Tame’s an ingrate who’s abused his hospitality whilst he and Jen have invited her into their own home. A farrago of lies of course. Passive-aggressive and patronising, he diminishes and demeans her.

“Grace is a passionate person who’s raised important issues. She’s had a terrible life ordeal, you know, things happen to her, her ordeals, the abuse. It’s just awful.”

Back at the Lodge, Morrison’s toothy rictus evokes the look he had for press gallery cameras just before he knifed Malcolm Turnbull in August 2018, declaring “this is my leader and I’m ambitious for him.”

With no policy achievements and a catastrophic failure to protect us from the pandemic, The Coalition knows the election campaign must be a horse race between ScoMo™ and Albo. Of course, as Paul Bongiorno warns, the Coalition may hold the half senate election in May as it is obliged to. Leave the lower house until September. Punt on the pandemic receding. But odds are long.

For now, it’s character. Whom do you prefer? And therein lies the problem. As Laura Tingle implies, whilst Murdoch’s claque is busy with the myth that we don’t know who Albo is, Faux-Mo’s problem, as a public figure made entirely of smirk and mirrors, is that we do know who he is.

Tame’s face, moreover, evokes some of the ways we know, notes Laura Tingle:

“… other unfortunate handshaking incidents during the bushfires; the excruciating moment when banking royal commissioner Justice Kenneth Hayne refused to be part of Josh Frydenberg’s photo opportunity by shaking hands and smiling with him; the widely circulated photo of Scott Morrison looking at his phone in the Parliament, having turned his back on Labor’s Tanya Plibersek as she addressed him across the chamber.”

There are many others. It’s Cobargo 2.0. Cue the NSW south coast, destroyed by freak bushfire fanned by his government’s policies of climate change denial. Local mother, Zoey asks questions only to have the PM turn his back and walk away from her in early January 2020.

“I have lost everything I own,” Zoey says in a social media post, with footage of the destruction. “My house is burnt to the ground and the prime minister turned his back on me.”

Given his government treats women as second-class citizens and worse, Ms Tame is in no frame of mind to be called into Morrison’s shonky photo-op. Be compromised. She’s brave. On cue, boys’ club commentators and big swinging dick club apologists, rush to attack her display of integrity.

“Sourpuss” sneers Miranda Devine. The News Limited flack, currently based in New York, accuses “Graceless” Tame of “ignorance, petulance” and “churlishness”. And a great deal more.

Morrison is “a leader of a middle power”, Devine ventures, as well as “our elected representative” who is owed respect for his high office alone, a gibe based on a lie about how we choose our PM, whilst she claims a former Australian of the Year (AOTY) is just an ambassador for a specific cause.

The “historic” Lodge also is defiled in Devine’s view. Sacrilege? Clearly, in the next phase of Murdoch’s Americanisation of our politics, it will be sacred. Our White House. A sacred shrine.

Devine’s rant in The Daily Telegraph, also trashes AOTY in a swinging denunciation, a hatchet job worthy of a PMO in full campaign mode. She dog-whistles culture warriors and the hard right.

“The AOTY is rarely representative of the Australian people but instead caters to a tiny base of Twitter brokens obsessed with prosecuting boutique ideological issues borrowed from overseas, usually to do with identity politics, “existential” climate alarm, the evil patriarchy, “toxic masculinity” and “systemic” racism.

Even if the AOTY were to start off as a normal person, by the end of their year in the spotlight they will have been thoroughly shaped into a left-wing activist by the media.”

“Ungracious”, Professor Peter Van Onselen also puns on her name, “rude” and “childish”. James McGrath, dropped in 2008 from Team BoJo for his comments in The Spectator calling African-Caribbean immigrants, “picaninnies” weighs in with “partisan, political and childish.”

There’s much more in this vein but a wave of approval far outweighs the sexist carping and character assassination, rejects Devine’s grotesque exaltation of our least trustworthy PM into an iconic national leader. Devine claims that to snub ScoMo is to insult the Australian people.

Most observers applaud Tame’s integrity. And how would Murdoch’s partisan hacks know what integrity looks like? ScoMo represents everything Ms Tame opposes. Such a pile-on, does, however, suggest a PMO aware that Tame is a major threat to their campaign to re-elect Morrison. A shonky product, which never really passed the sniff test, now smells well past its use-by date.

Perhaps Tame recalls ScoMo™’s office leaking against Brittany Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz. Or Chief of Staff John Kunkel’s “review” that found he was “not in a position to make a finding that the alleged activity took place”. (Sue Gray, take note for your Boris’ knees-up report.)

A helpless young woman is allegedly raped near his office, but the PM doesn’t know, let alone take any responsibility. God forefend he owes any duty of care. Or honesty.

But Morrison’s lies are world-renowned, largely thanks to Emmanuel Macron, and, for him, everything is someone else’s responsibility.

Almost. He’s a dab hand at captain’s calls and gratuitous cruelty. His appointing Amanda Stoker as Marise Payne’s underling, assistant Minister for Women to an invisible Minister for Women looks like an act of sadistic revenge.

The Queensland senator supported a “fake rape crisis tour” that inflicted great suffering on survivors, such as Ms Tame.

Or is it his failure to provide a safe workplace? Tame may have had in mind, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins’ finding that sexual harassment and assault were so pervasive in Parliament with its toxic workplace culture that, “women told us they felt ‘lucky’ if they had not directly experienced sexual harassment and assault.”

Who’d want to shake the hand of a PM who pats women on the head and tells the nation “we are dealing with this as no other government has done before”?

Saying “she’s had a terrible life” is the most condescending, ignorant & utterly disempowering comment to make about Grace Tame.

Grace’s whole message is that as survivors, we are not defined by our experiences of sexual violence,” tweets Nina Funnell who worked with Grace Tame on her original campaign #LetHerSpeak,

ScoMo’s government’s record is of evasion, inaction, lies and leaking against victims and their families. Contempt is only part of its orchestrated disempowerment of women.

Dealing with? Jenkins, in a separate process, recommends imposing a duty of care on employers to stamp out sexual harassment – only to have this rejected by the Morrison government.

Senator Jenny McAllister reminds us that, in 2013, Tony Abbott appointed himself Minister for Women. Eight years later, the contempt continues. ScoMo says women who march on parliament to publicly call for justice, equality and safety are lucky not to be shot. He snubs them anyway.

“This is a vibrant liberal democracy, Mr Speaker, not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker,” Morrison says to boos, jeers and looks of total incredulity.

Why should Ms Tame, a passionate advocate for victims of sexual violence compromise everything she stands for by being a prop in the PM’s propaganda photo? Even in his words to those invited to the Lodge, ScoMo acknowledges Tame’s engagement to her fiancé, Max Heerey, not her work.

As with his struggle to understand that rape is a crime, ScoMo might need his Jen to clarify his slight – on all women. He’ll have plenty of time after May. Or September, should he take the punt.

Labor’s Jenny McAllister does acknowledge Grace Tame’s work, “together with other survivor advocates, she has driven a lasting national conversation about the treatment of women, and the prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual violence against women and children.”

It’s the eve of Invasion Day or ‘Straya Day as Morrison’s Ocker avatar outside The Lodge would have it. ScoMo’s™ moved on, prompted by focus groups. Sixty per cent of Australians support a change of date, according to a Guardian Essential Poll, taken a few days ago. Meanwhile, his commentary shifts to that of some didactic voiceover to a whitewashing of war and dispossession.

“A story,” he pens for Nine’s claque, mustering his typical fog of abstraction, cluttered with buzzwords and double-speak, “of strength and resilience that spans 65,000 years, of a continent that we love and contend with, and of a free and fair people who live in relative harmony.”

“Remarkable” would have been better than “relative”. And speaking of relatives, Morrison’s great-great-aunt, utopian socialist, poet and former Paraguayan commune member (in 1896), Mary Gilmore, a Dame who wrote for a communist newspaper, would turn in her grave.

Yet only his pet rag, The Daily Telegraph, runs the line that “the arrival in Australia of the First Fleet in 1788 was the initial step towards multiculturalism.” Shades of Tony Abbott’s defining moment.

Grace Tame’s “side-eye” defines our times. Why collude in a photo-op to normalise our criminally, negligent MPs with their hands in the till or doing favours for rich mates? Why approve of skiving off to Hawaii, padding travel allowances or taking a few days off to watch the cricket. Sam Maiden reports Tim Wilson Liberal MP Tim Wilson leaves Victoria for 95 nights, charging taxpayers $37k.

A vibrant liberal democracy does not normalise corruption while it disenfranchises women, the aged, the poor and first nations. It is not a regime of coercive control by old white men that opposes constitutional recognition of first peoples and rejects The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

A voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution is not only long overdue, it would also enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. Instead, ScoMo™ & Co. come up with a co-design report. What does it do? It sets up further consultations to establish regional and local voices.

“The only thing the government has managed to achieve is more delays and more processes. What the government is proposing gives the Voice no security. They even banned their co-design committee from speaking about constitutional recognition,” Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney calls out the time-wasting duplicity inherent in the process.

Why help normalise a clown? The PM’s “vibrant liberal democracy” allows Clive Palmer to boast he’ll outspend his $93m last election, lying about Labor’s policies. Paul Bongiorno reports Labor strategists who call out Australia’s Clown Prince of Politics for what he is – a way of extending the Liberals’ media campaign budget, which, scandalously, remains uncapped.

“He’s a Liberal and will shovel votes back to them at the end of the day.”

Bongiorno is outraged:

“…the government has done nothing to contain the obscenity of a billionaire being able to distort the democratic political contest in such a blatant way.”

Australia’s reputation for corruption is at its lowest level since ratings began in 1995, reports Transparency International. Morrison’s Covid Commission is a sterling example. A mob assembled by the PM, ostensibly for Covid crisis management turns out to be a gas industry support group.

The scandal of our RATs instant millionaires is another.

Pandemic rages, with at least ninety-eight deaths, Friday, as a government, “getting out of peoples’ lives,” stops sitting on its hands only to point the finger of blame.

Omicron spreads to more than 700 aged-care homes, Rachel Withers reports for The Monthly. Staff struggle to cope in over half of all facilities in NSW. A grieving daughter tells SBS News that her father died of COVID-19 alone in his locked-down aged-care home, while waiting for an overdue booster shot, on the day after Aged Care Minister Colbeck takes three days off to watch a cricket game. Morrison defends Colbeck by telling us we don’t know how hard the Minister works.

Lives have been lost but Colbeck will “take this on the chin,” he adds obliquely. Accountability is not part of his vocabulary. An incompetent spared, ScoMo hopes is a future ally; bound to him in gratitude.

Students will return to school so parents can get back to work. Teachers are put at risk and their value impugned by being seen solely as babysitters in a post-industrial society. And expendable. Vulnerable retired teachers and inexperienced graduates are said to be ready to fill the gaps.

It’s an era of personal responsibility, ScoMo and Perrottet claim. But just try to buy a RAT. Unless you happen to be Motion One, a firm run out of a two-roomed apartment in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay where Pilates franchise CEO, Austyn Campbell secures a $26 million contract to import RATs.

She flogs them online for $12.50. Identical tests are purchased by importers and sold to Australian retailers for as little as $5 per unit.

A former Liberal Party “digital strategist”, Campbell runs a communications firm, Agenda C, with Parnell Palme McGuiness, another lucky punter who’s also done work for the Liberal Party.

Also doing nicely is Julie Bishop’s beau, David Panton, formerly an all-night chemist in Mornington, Victoria, who with his daughters runs Pantonic, a pharmaceutical supply company. Tests start at $11.

Will it be a RAT-led economic recovery? An overvalued stock market totters, tech stocks shedding value first – Barnaby fan, Georgina Hope Rinehart gets a gong for services to mining, community and sport, just before she’s declared an Olympic sponsor.

Hang on. Help is on its way from BoJo.

So touching to discover that the mother country still loves her delinquent ex-colony. Or not so ex.

Thank God, Queen and her palace that John Kerr, her GG could keep the con in our constitutional monarchy as we were weaning ourselves off the breast of empire, onto a neo-colonial formula.

Our co-dependence helps us feel relaxed and comfortable about the capitulation of national sovereignty that is AUKUS, a pact yet to be defined, but which has a very colonial nostalgia vibe.

Not everyone loves Kerr. A ”rorty old, farting Falstaff …” an elderly lizard” is Patrick White’s vivid impressions of the Governor-General, a respected jurist and former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, who invoked his “reserve powers” to dismiss Whitlam’s Labor government in 1975, to the immense good fortune of Liberal Malcolm Fraser, a Western Districts grazier. How we miss such giants.

Mal is the last farmer to become Prime Minister, something the Nats have never got over and the only PM to visit to a seedy Memphis hotel, only to lose his trousers – just one leg of which, could be pressed into service as a shroud for his chief legacy, his treasurer. John Winston Howard, monarchist, devout Neoliberal and US lickspittle, who did so much to dash the hopes of voters who sought enlightened, progressive, federal policies which might heal division, promote equality and independence.

As for the AUKUS submarine plan, it’s a fiasco. Eight nuclear subs we cannot crew, or fuel, which need a whole new industry to maintain, with a price tag of at least possibly $170 billion, allowing for inflation, are thrust upon us much to Macron’s chagrin, or emmerdement, a word our prissy press pretend is “piss off” but any Frenchman will tell you means shat upon.

Macron hates our PM for lying to him that the sub deal was real until one day before it wasn’t. It’s a breach of good faith which will set back our trade with the EU circus, of which La Belle France is 2022’s ringmaster. Carbon tariffs could be slapped on our exports. Also, we alienate another power with a presence in the Pacific.

In the meantime, we may have to retire the Collins class subs which will be rust buckets well before our “new” nuclear submarines are ready in the early 2040s. By then, crewless subs and drones will have superseded anything AUKUS hawks us.

But all is not lost. Diplomatic genius, carbon tariff expert and Joke PM, Tony Abbott has been seconded to the BOT, Board of Trade, an outfit long dead in the water until revived by Teresa May as something she could announce that might offset the stench of a hard Brexit.

Tony’s bound to come up with something. Always does. Even if it’s only shirt-fronting Macron.

His work is cut out for him. Career liar, Boris Johnson brags that:

“… our ambitious trade deal with Australia will include a substantive article on climate change which reaffirms both parties’ commitments to the Paris Agreement and achieving its goals, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Tony’s carbon tax expertise will add a bit of finesse to the UK Australia Free Trade Deal virtually inked last month. It’s worthless according to Moody’s. Our beef and veal are more likely to go to more accessible markets which offer higher prices. As Moody’s puts it:

“Australian exporters garner higher prices for their beef products in countries like South Korea, Japan and the US. Also, Australian beef exports recently dipped because of drought conditions. Such conditions are expected to occur more regularly in the future and could restrict exports.”

Glen Dyer and Bernard Keane note that the Coalition refuses to allow the Productivity Commission or any other objective body to analyse the agreement because the benefits are minuscule. Even these dwindle in the light of the extra paperwork required to meet bureaucratic country-of-origin requirements for accessing the deal.

“Given the trivial economic impact of the UK-Australia free trade agreement, we won’t be updating our growth forecasts for the UK economy,” Moody’s conclude.

But it’s worse than nothing. Boris gets rolled. Barnaby Joyce’s carve-out means Morrison won’t have a bar of any deal that breathes a word about net-zero.

Australia’s negotiators demand that temperature targets have no part in the trade deal. When the Brits insist that The Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, and preferably to 1.5 degrees at least gets a mention, that’s all it gets and only over Morrison government objections.

But who’s going to notice the cave-in when the party’s all agog at revelations that Boris has lied about at least eleven parties that broke Covid isolation rules?

Party piece of party gate is surely BoJo’s glorious anniversary of his own birth, alas, another mental blankety-blank which he either can’t recall or, like fellow amateur casuist, ScoMo, argue wasn’t a party at all.

Boris’ colleagues are a riot of goodwill, a British ten-minute effusion of camaraderie, a happy birthday dirge and a cake with a Sue Gray file in it.

BoJo’s birthday party that his (fairly) newly-wed, a May bride, organised for him is the latest episode of Carrie On Upstairs, a fitting sequel to the mystery of who paid for the 840 pound a roll golden wallpaper in the refurbishing of Boris and Carrie’s flat over number eleven Downing Street, traditionally reserved for the chancellor of the exchequer except when Boris needs it for himself, his partner and growing family.

If we are conned on trade and it looks as if we’re roped into buying obsolete subs we won’t have any time for our war on Beijing, Keane suggests we just tell China to hold off for a couple of decades while we get our nuclear underwater shit together. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s not clear which of our neo-colonial masters will actually supply the ships. Morrison loves secrecy as much as indecision. DFAT tells us that by 2020’s end, Australian investments in the US totalled $864 billion – almost as much as the Great Satan – as America is revered in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan whose peoples it has liberated, with our assistance – the USA has invested in the Land of Oz while our investment in the UK was $615 billion – and the Old Dart has $737.6 billion invested here.

All of this is a prelude to hope. Amidst the amazing Grace Tame’s refusal to grin and bear the PM’s charm offensive, a perfunctory line congratulating her on her engagement rather than her work as Australian of the Year, the shortage of RATs and ScoMo™ & Co’s abandonment of all pretence at protecting us from Omicron, the arrival, Friday, of UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, aboard a Global Britain private Airbus jet is a cunningly orchestrated stunt that gets BoJos rival out of his hair while providing audio-visual proof of ScoMo and Cos trade deals.

True, Little Britain’s Labour Party is outraged at the A$1 million price ticket but wait until they discover that the Free Trade Deal with the land Downunder is just another bit of window dressing.

Hawk Talk is also a big part of Truss’ mission. Eager to be Boris’ replacement and one of our neo-colonial mistress’ Britannia’s debauched ruling elite, Truss pops in to warn us that the Chinese Panda is plotting with the Russian Bear to blow us all up, a warning that Paul Keating calls demented.

Truss attacked Dan Tehan last year, because she felt slighted but now, she is practically one of us after being made honorary Ocker of the Year, last year by The Australia Day Foundation.

The dodgy Foundation is a cabal of climate deniers, mining shills and lobbyists with links to the ultra-right Policy Exchange, a group affiliated with those who spread disinformation on climate change and covid.

Many see Liz as Little Britain’s next Tory PM, if only party animal and pants-man, Boris Johnson would admit the carnival is over. Or Sue Gray busts him for breaking his own social distancing rules by holding parties. Seriously.

Her man bag, Ben Wallace, is a Boris-follower, too, over-promoted for his loyalty to Defence Secretary.

Ben and Liz are AUKUS hawks who talk up a Blairite WMD-type case for declaring war on Russia, just because America wants them to, a scenario, the invisible Marise Payne and Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton find incredibly compelling and not just as an election campaign stunt.

All is well in the Land of Oz, even “a smoking ruin” of democracy as Guy Rundle praises us. Deputy PM and MP for Santos, Barnaby Joyce tells ABC RN Breakfast’s Patricia Karvelas that “people aren’t dying” in the Lucky Country of Covid. Rats are wrecking his government’s superbly orchestrated pandemic testing kit rollout by hoarding their RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) – or flogging them at prices to rival the can-do capitalism of professional gougers and your local Chemist Warehouse portal.

Finally, Labor’s leader responds to Andrew Probyn asking who he is:

“My first campaign, I was 12 years old,” Albo tells the Press Club. “We organised a rent strike. We took petitions around to everyone. That was my experience of that. That drove me. That was my first political campaign. And, by the way, we won.”

“Just ‘pushing through’ this pandemic is not enough,” he argues. “We need to learn from it, we need to use what the last two years have taught us to build a better future.”

We need “a government that steps up to its responsibilities and fulfils its most fundamental roles: to protect our people, to act as a force for good, and to change people’s lives for the better.”

No wonder Morrison’s running scared. But pumping social media with Clive$’ lies about Labor’s failings is unlikely to cut it when your record reeks of corruption, ineptitude, dud deals and untrustworthiness. The worst PM of the century can’t even show some grace under friendly fire at a reception for Australian of the Year, a miserable morning tea, brightened only by a bevy of nominees for awards, any one of which is likely to show up his own inadequacies as a man and as a leader.

To pick a fight with Grace Tame, moreover, and to go on radio, later, to belittle her, may cost Morrison any last skerrick of credibility. His pot-shot at Grace Tame, Australian of the Year 2021 is by extension an attack on all women and every woman’s right to expect a government that offers equality, justice and safety for all Australians, instead of a racket run to benefit a privileged few.

Given his lies, his stunts, his broken promises, his empty promises, his protection of incompetent ministers and worse, together with his government’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, his pot-shot at Ms Tame maybe his coup de grace.

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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 a 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 cooperation 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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