Australian news, and some related international items

Are these wildly expensive nuclear-powered submarines really in Australia’s best interests?

The Monthly, By Rachel Withers 15 Mar 23, As is often the case in politics, the ABC comedy Utopia skewered the situation years ago. In an episode in which the government decided to spend a mind-boggling amount on defence, the gathered strategists would not specify why, and agreed only to nod along when Tony deduced that China was the target, our trade routes were what needed protecting, and that China was our largest trading partner.

“So under this scenario, we’re spending close to $30 billion a year to protect our trade with China… from China,” Tony surmised. In the case of the AUKUS deal, it’s quite clear that China is who we are looking to counter. But it’s still not entirely clear why we are sinking $368 billion into submarines that will, as The Betoota Advocate quips, “halt China’s invasion by 14 hours”. Is it really in Australia’s strategic interests to be poking the dragon, permanently aligning ourselves with the US against a power we could never actually defend ourselves against?  Is China really enough of a threat to us that we need to spend $368 billion? Are these wildly expensive nuclear subs necessary, or prudent? Shouldn’t we, I dunno, talk about this a little more before signing away our collective future?

Doubts are continuing to swirl around AUKUS, not least because, as the ABC’s Matt Bevan observes, Australia is “buying stuff to protect us from China, using essentially all the money we get from exporting stuff to China” (“to protect ourselves from missiles made from our raw materials,” added Alan Kohler)……………………………..

Turnbull wasn’t the only former PM refusing to be swept up in the excitement. Former Labor leader and major AUKUS critic Paul Keating did not hold back at the National Press Club today, labelling it the “worst international decision” by his party since Billy Hughes tried to introduce conscription, with several kicks at Penny Wong and Richard Marles, and some vicious comments about the UK and US leaders for good measure.

………………………….. Other experts, meanwhile, have blasted the fact that the AUKUS deal directly benefits the US and the UK governments while Australia takes the main strategic risk; others reckon that our massive subs outlay would be better spent closer to home. “A more sensible approach might be for the AUKUS partners to negotiate with China on an arms control agreement to cap the number of regional nuclear submarines and avoid a hugely expensive arms race for all concerned,” wrote Clive Williams, a former military intelligence officer in the army and a visiting fellow at the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. It’s not that far off The Shovel’s suggestion, which is that we “just pay China $300 billion not to invade”, saving $68 billion.

…………. the fact is, as Curran writes today, “the Morrison and Albanese governments have never fully explained the strategic assessments underpinning AUKUS”. There are serious questions to be asked of this $368 billion deal, including why Scott Morrison, the father of AUKUS, decided to embark on it, and whether it really is in our best interests to pursue. It’s not quite spending $30 billion a year to protect our trade with China from China, as Utopia put it. But we’re certainly going to be spending billions each year to send a message to China, and it remains unclear what exactly that message will be……………………


March 16, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war

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