Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Morrison is making an enemy of China – and Labor is helping him

Paul Keating comes out as a Sinophile below. What he says about the subs is nonsense but I agree with him in deploring the nagging of China. Criticizing a Communist regime was never going to do any good. Western criticisms have caused China to lose "face" and that was always going to engender hostility

The Liberals, having no faith in the capacity of Australians and all we have created here, could not resist falling back, yet again, to do the bidding of another great power, the United States of America.

Menzies, even after World War II, did Britain’s bidding against the international community in attempting to wrest the Suez Canal from Egypt just as he deceptively committed Australian troops to Vietnam to appease the United States.

Howard, another US appeaser extraordinaire, committed us to an illegal war in Iraq with tragic consequences.

And now, Morrison, a younger throwback to the Liberals’ Anglosphere, shops Australia’s sovereignty by locking the country and its military forces into the force structure of the United States by acquiring US submarines.

And all in the claim of a so-called “changed security environment”. That change is China’s more aggressive international posture – the posture of now, the world’s largest emerging economy. This change in China’s domestic and foreign posture is labelled by Morrison and his government not as the shifting posture of a re-emerging great power, but as “the China threat”. As though China, through its more abrupt and ruder foreign policy, has also presented a military threat in its dealings with Australia.

A threat that, in fact, has never been made and that has never materialised.

The word “threat” explicitly connotes military aggression or invasion, a threat China has never made against Australia or even implied making.

Chinese tariffs on wine or seafood do not constitute a military threat any more than does China’s intolerance of Hong Kong domestic political management.

Hong Kong and its affairs do not and cannot be represented as some military threat to Australia – an event that requires from us consideration of a military response. Even Chinese island-pumping in the South China Sea does not represent a military threat to Australia, unwise on China’s part, as I believe it to be.

But this is the construction Scott Morrison and his government have placed on China and its relationship with Australia.

It is a “threat”, implying by use of the word, that it is a military one.

This false representation of China’s foreign policy has also been condoned by the Labor Party, if not explicitly. In her five years as Labor’s opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, by her muted complicity with the government’s foreign policy and posture, has neutered Labor’s traditional stance as to Australia’s right to strategic autonomy – an autonomy unconstrained by any power, including, that of the United States.

Instead, Wong went along with the stance of Julie Bishop and Marise Payne – calculatedly, with not a cigarette paper of difference between her and them. And did it with licence provided by Bill Shorten as leader and, now, Anthony Albanese.

Now that long policy void is being exploited by Scott Morrison. At Morrison’s instigation, Australia turns its back on the 21st century, the century of Asia, for the jaded and faded Anglosphere – the domain of the Atlantic – a world away.

And Labor is complicit in the historic backslide. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been up to their necks in it also. Peter Hartcher’s bi-weekly froth-mouthed articles about China and its supposed threat, along with Chris Uhlmann and his wicked representation of China as marauding Nazis, has constituted an important part of the climate that has allowed Morrison to now shop the country to the Americans.

China does not attack other states, unlike the United States, which does attack other states, yet the Herald and The Age have portrayed China as an aggressor power with malevolent intentions.

In a measure of luck, Australians have been vested with a continent of our own. A continent having a border with no one – with no other state. And certainly, not remotely within any territorial contest or claim by China, which is 10 flying hours from Australia’s east coast cities.

The notion that Australia is in a state of military apprehension about China, or needs to be, is a distortion and lie of the worst and most grievous proportions. By its propagation, Australia is determinedly casting China as an enemy – and in the doing of it, actually creating an enemy where none exists.

So poisonous are the Liberals towards China they are prepared for Australia to lose its way in the neighbourhood of Asia, in search of Australia’s security from Asia, by submission to yet another strategic guarantor – 240 years into our history.

This strategy amounts to a massive bet on the United States and its staying power in Asia. Rather than Australia finding its own way around the region, including with China, as we have done so well in the past, Morrison and Labor have tied us to the unknown endurance of the United States and the pain it is prepared to wear in defence of what it believes are its core Asian interests.

I have said before, but it is worth repeating: the United States is a naval power, whereas China is a continental power. A continental power with the largest land mass in Asia occupied by 20 per cent of humanity. And competently served by a modern military.

The United States, by its aircraft carrier fleets, enjoys naval force projection but that projection is fuelled from its bases on the American west coast. Its capacity in a military exchange with China will be limited by the attenuation of its supply lines and the vulnerability of its surface vessels to Chinese submarines and ballistic missiles.

I have also said before, but worth repeating, that when it comes to major international conflagration, land beats water every time. Through this submarine purchase, Australia surrenders its naval forces to the command of the United States, while setting itself into a military position incapable of defeating Chinese land-based and sea denial forces.

It takes a monster level of incompetence to forfeit military control of one’s own state, but this is what Scott Morrison and his government have managed to do


Clear majority of Australians want net zero emissions by 2050

This is nonsense. The survey showed what they have constantly been told to believe -- not what they "want"

A clear majority of Australians want the federal government to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, lifting support for the target to 60 per cent as Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces pressure from world leaders to take more action on climate change.

A more ambitious target for 2030 also has slim majority support, with 52 per cent of people saying the federal government should deepen its emission cuts over the next decade, a crucial timeframe for a United Nations climate summit in November.

But Australians are divided on phasing out coal, with 49 per cent backing calls to close coal-fired power stations within a decade but 44 per cent saying the country should continue to mine and export coal for as long as buyers want it.

The majority support for greater ambition on net zero crosses party lines, with a new survey showing 57 per cent of Coalition voters and 67 per cent of Labor voters want the 2050 target.

Mr Morrison arrived in New York on Tuesday for talks at the United Nations General Assembly, including meetings with United States President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, two leaders who want him to do more to cut emissions.

Mr Biden has asked leaders to commit to deeper cuts at the UN climate summit to be held in Glasgow in November, putting pressure on Mr Morrison to go beyond his policy of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.

“We have to bring to Glasgow our highest possible ambitions,” Mr Biden said last Friday. “Those that have not yet done so, time is running out.”

Mr Johnson warned on Monday that “too many major economies are lagging too far behind” on climate, using a major speech in New York to say stronger action was not a matter for the “unkempt fringes” but a significant trade and security issue.

“In the years to come, the only great powers will be green powers,” Mr Johnson said.

The exclusive survey, conducted for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age by research company Resolve Strategic, shows the national support has risen to 60 per cent from 55 per cent in a similar survey in June.


Climate change to deliver suburban house price pain: RBA

As recent experience has shown, the big factor in real estate prices is interest rates. Low interest rates=high prices. Everything else is detail

Climate change could cut property prices across a swath of Sydney’s northern suburbs from Lane Cove to Ku-ring-gai, with Reserve Bank analysis showing many homeowners face declining equity in their houses and rising insurance costs.

As separate work by the RBA warned coal and LNG exports to key Asian markets were likely to fall as nations such as China and South Korea reduced their carbon emissions, the bank’s research on the Australian property market suggested climate change was a growing risk to the financial sector.

Economists Kellie Bellrose, David Norman and Michelle Royters found by 2050, about 400,000 more loans (or 2.5 per cent of all loans) would have a loan-to-value ratio of more than 80 per cent – half of those with an LVR of more than 90 per cent – as property values fell due to climate change.

They suggested there would be 254 “climate-sensitive suburbs” at increased risk of a drop in value by that time, rising to 1438 suburbs by 2100.

In Sydney, most of the city’s northern suburbs from Mosman to the northern beaches and across to the Ku-ring-gai area stretching past Hornsby fell into this category, along with the Cronulla peninsula. Almost every coastal suburb in Brisbane was considered climate-sensitive, as was the area around Lilydale, Croydon and Kilsyth in Melbourne’s outer east and Mandurah to the south of Perth.

In Australia, about two-thirds of major bank lending is for residential mortgages, making any change in housing values a key risk.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority is working with the nation’s largest banks to identify their potential vulnerability to climate change amid growing global recognition of the risks it poses to the entire financial system.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report confirmed the world was on track to experience extreme weather due to global warming even if swift action was taken to limit global warming to 2 degrees. It predicted Australia, which has warmed 1.4 degrees since 1910, would experience rising average temperatures with extreme heat, more frequent and intense bushfires, droughts, floods and rising sea levels.

The RBA economists said the risks in climate-sensitive suburbs could further increase if the insurance costs for affected areas became prohibitive.

“That is, the technical insurance premium may understate the actual rise in premiums, particularly if insurers become more concerned about exposures to ‘high risk’ regions,” they said. “This may arise because many of the addresses within these regions are impacted by the same hazard (for example, an entire town is built in a flood zone or near fire hazards). In addition, if climate change causes incomes in these regions to also decline, it would result in even larger risks to banks.”


Australian documents showed French submarine project was at risk for years

France shouldn't have been surprised that Australia cancelled a submarine contract, as major concerns about delays, cost overruns and suitability had been aired officially and publicly for years, Australian politicians said.

Paris has recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington, saying it was blindsided by Canberra's decision to build nuclear-powered submarines with the U.S. and Britain rather than stick with its contract for French diesel submarines.

Yet as early as September 2018, an independent oversight board led by a former U.S. Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter had advised Australia to look at alternatives to the French submarine, and questioned whether the project was in the national interest, a 2020 public report from the country's Auditor-General shows.

Australian parliamentary hearings and reports on the project, first priced at $40 billion and more recently at $60 billion, even before construction had begun, also showed problems emerging. In June the defence secretary told parliament "contingency planning" for the programme was under way.

"They would have to have their eyes shut not to realise the danger they were facing," said Rex Patrick, an independent senator for South Australia, referring to France.

Government ministers said this week Canberra had been "up front" with Paris about the problems.

A French lawmaker also raised questions in the country's parliament in June about Australian concerns over delays, and whether Australia might be considering submarine alternatives, French government records show.

"We chose not to go through a gate in a contract," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters when he arrived in New York on Monday. "The contract was set up that way, and we chose not to go through it because we believed to do so would ultimately not be in Australia's interests."

An official from the French Embassy in Canberra said an intergovernmental agreement should have allowed for confidential discussions between ministers about changes to political or strategic circumstances.

"No warning, no proposals for discussion were offered," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The deal was first announced in 2016. A pre-design review was delayed in 2018 because the "work provided to Defence by Naval Group did not meet Defence's requirements", the audit said, citing lack of design detail, operational requirements and 63 studies not completed.




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