Australian news, and some related international items

Anthony Albanese insists that Australia will control AUKUS nuclear submarines, but others doubt this

Australia will control nuclear submarines in any conflict with Aukus partners, Albanese says

Guardian, Katharine Murphy and Daniel Hurst, 22 Feb 23

The PM insists Australia will maintain its sovereignty in the event of a disagreement with the US or UK on military strategy

“………………………………….Albanese said the deployment of military assets in the event of any conflict was “a decision for Australia as a sovereign nation, just as the United States will maintain its sovereignty and the United Kingdom will maintain its”.

The prime minister used a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday to foreshadow increased defence spending as a consequence of the looming government response to the Defence Strategic Review, while characterising the Aukus security arrangement between Australia, the US and the UK as “the future”.

There is persistent speculation the next steps in the Aukus pact will be outlined by the three alliance partners in the US in March.

Paul Keating has previously raised concerns about the potential for Aukus to erode Australian sovereignty. Keating has contended Aukus will see Australia’s strategic sovereignty “outsourced to another state, a North Atlantic state, the United States” which is dangerous, given the US had “no idea what to do with itself in Asia”.

Keating’s concerns about sovereignty are shared by another former prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull has been calling on the government to answer whether nuclear submarines could be “operated, sustained and maintained by Australia without the support or supervision of the US navy”, and whether that effectively meant “sovereignty would be shared with the US”.

Concerns about a diminution of Australian sovereignty were heightened back in 2021 when Biden’s top Indo-Pacific adviser, Kurt Campbell, observed that Aukus would lead to “a deeper interconnection and almost a melding in many respects of our services and working together on common purpose that we couldn’t have dreamed about five or 10 years ago”.

Campbell later clarified his remarks. “I fully understand how important sovereignty and independence is for Australia. So I don’t want to leave any sense that somehow that would be lost,” he said during an Australian webinar ahead of the 2022 election.

The sustained controversy has prompted the defence minister, Richard Marles, to declare in a speech to parliament that acquiring nuclear-powered submarines would “dramatically enhance” Australia’s sovereignty, rather than undermine it.

The head of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine taskforce says Australia will retain full operational control over the submarines, while potentially having US or British engineers on board to provide technical advice.

During Wednesday’s speech at the National Press Club, Albanese hinted that Australia needed to expand its nuclear research as part of Aukus, saying the arrangement would lead to “greater exchanges as well and greater knowledge buildup”…………..

The prime minister also strongly backed the Asio chief, Mike Burgess, who has stepped up his warnings about espionage and foreign interference………………….


February 23, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international

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