Australian news, and some related international items

Australia Isn’t A Nation, It’s A US Military Base With Kangaroos, and happy to have Julian Assange imprisoned

Caitlin Johnstone 1 Apr 23

One of the many, many signs that Australia is nothing more than a US military and intelligence asset is the way its government has consistently refused to intervene to protect Australian citizen Julian Assange from political persecution at the hands of the US empire.

In a new article titled “Penny Wong moves to dampen expectation of breakthrough in Julian Assange case,” The Guardian quotes Australia’s foreign minister as saying, “We are doing what we can, between government and government, but there are limits to what that diplomacy can achieve.” Wong said this when asked if Prime Minister Anthony Albanese discussed the world’s most famous press freedom case with the US president and British prime minister when he met with them together two weeks ago.

Wong refused to say whether her government’s leader had raised the issue with his supposed US and UK counterparts, repeating instead the same line she’s been bleating since Labor took over: that the Assange case “has dragged on long enough and should be brought to a close.” Which if you listen carefully isn’t actually a statement in favor of releasing the WikiLeaks founder or blocking extradition — it’s just saying the case should be concluded hastily, one way or another.

These statements came in response to questions from Greens Senator David Shoebridge, who took a jab at the Labor government’s “quiet diplomacy” approach to the Assange case.

“The idea that quiet diplomacy must be so silent that the government can’t tell the public or the parliament if the PM even spoke to the president is bizarre,” Shoebridge said.

Wong told Shoebridge that Australia is powerless to intervene to protect the acclaimed Australian journalist, saying, “We are not able as an Australian government to intervene in another country’s legal or court processes.” 

While it is true that Australia can’t force the US to end the political imprisonment and persecution of Assange for exposing US war crimes, it obviously can conduct diplomacy with its supposed ally in order to protect an Australian citizen. Even nations with whom Australia has no form of alliance are vocally confronted by Canberra when they imprison Australian citizens, like the statement Wong released yesterday regarding China’s detention of Chinese-Australian journalist Cheng Lei in which the foreign minister explicitly and unequivocally calls for “Ms Cheng to be reunited with her family.”

Just yesterday alone Wong tweeted to demand justice for Cheng and for American journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been arrested in Russia on espionage charges.

“It is one year since Australian citizen Cheng Lei faced a closed trial in Beijing on national security charges,” tweeted Wong. “She is yet to learn the outcome. Our thoughts are with Ms Cheng and her loved ones. Australia will continue to advocate for her to be reunited with her children.”

“Australia is deeply concerned by Russia’s detention of Wall Street Journal Moscow correspondent Evan Gershkovich. We call on Russia to ensure access to consular and legal assistance,” Wong tweeted a few hours later.

Now guess how many times Penny Wong has tweeted the word “Assange”? 

Answer: zero.

What is the basis for this discrepancy? Why has Australia’s foreign minister been publicly demanding that China release Cheng Lei and return her to her children, without making the same demands of the US for Julian Assange? Assange has children too, and he has been imprisoned for four times longer than Cheng — more than ten times longer if you count the period of his arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorian embassy in London before his arrest. Why are we seeing more action from the Australian government to defend an Australian journalist in China than to defend an Australian journalist fighting extradition to a nation we’re supposedly allied with which upholds itself as the leader of the rules-based international order?

The answer is that Australia is not a real country. It’s an American colony. It’s a giant US military base with kangaroos.

That’s why the Albanese government’s “quiet diplomacy” to free Assange is so quiet that it can’t actually be said to exist.

Regular readers may recall that the last time we discussed an interaction between Senators Wong and Shoebridge was when the former condescendingly dismissed the latter’s efforts to find out if the Australian government is allowing the US military to bring nuclear weapons into the country. Wong angrily told Shoebridge that the US has a standing “neither confirm nor deny” position with regard to where it keeps its nuclear weapons, and that the Australian government understands and respects that position.

We’re so far under Washington’s thumb that we’re not even allowed to know if there are American nukes in our country, and our own government can’t even advocate in defense of its own citizen when he’s being persecuted for the crime of good journalism.

Add that to the fact that Australia has been pressed into an AUKUS pact which makes us much less safe and a hostile relationship with China which hurts our own economic and security interests, the stationing of a US nuclear intelligence site which makes us a nuclear target, and the US staging literal coups of our government whenever its elected leaders threaten US strategic interests, and it becomes clear that our so-called “country” is functionally just a US aircraft carrier that happens to be the size of a continent.

Which would be bad enough if these bastards weren’t pushing us to play a front-and-center role in World War Three. We’ve got to start fighting against our enslavement to the US empire and against the Pentagon puppets in our own government like our lives depend on it, because they very clearly do.

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

AUKUS Exists To Manage The Risks Created By Its Existence

Australia would be at risk of being attacked by China because the US wants to use Australia to attack China.

The only way China attacks Australia is if Australia’s role as a US military asset makes us a target when the US attacks China

Caitlin Johnstone

“NATO exists to manage the risks created by its existence,” Professor Richard Sakwa once wrote in an attempt to articulate the absurdity of the military alliance’s provocative nature on the world stage. At some point Australians must wake up to the fact that this is equally true of AUKUS: we’re told the military alliance exists for our protection, but its very existence makes us less safe.

As former prime minister Paul Keating recently observed in the Australian Financial Review, this government’s justification for the AUKUS alliance and the obscenely expensive nuclear submarine deal that goes with it has been all over the map, first claiming that it’s to protect our own shores from a Chinese attack, then pivoting to claiming it’s to protect sea lanes from being blocked off by China after Keating dismantled the first claim at the National Press Club two weeks ago.

One thing Canberra has struggled to do is to explain exactly why China would launch an unprovoked attack on Australia or its shipping routes; the former couldn’t yield any benefit that would outweigh the immense cost even if it succeeded, and the latter is absurd because open trade routes are what makes China an economic superpower in the first place.

Luckily for us, the Pentagon pets cited in the Australian media’s recent propaganda blitz to promote war with China explained precisely what the argument is on Canberra’s behalf. They say Australia would be at risk of being attacked by China because the US wants to use Australia to attack China.

…………………………………………………… In their haste to make the case for more militarism and brinkmanship, these war propagandists admit what’s long been obvious to anyone paying attention: that the only thing putting Australia in danger from China is its alliances and agreements with the United States. The difference between them and normal human beings is that they see no problem with this.

Other empire lackeys have been making similar admissions. In a recent article by Foreign Policy, Lowy Institute think tanker Sam Roggeveen is quoted as saying the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal will make it “almost impossible” for Australia to avoid getting entangled in a war between the US and China:………………

The only way China attacks Australia is if Australia’s role as a US military asset makes us a target when the US attacks China

…………………………………………………AUKUS has nothing to do with “defence”. You don’t need long-range submarines to defend Australia’s easily-defended shores, you need long-range submarines to attack China. Australia’s “defence posture” is an attack posture.


AUKUS is not a defence partnership because it’s got nothing to do with defence, and it’s also not a defence partnership because it is not a “partnership”. It’s the US empire driving Australia to its doom, to nobody’s benefit but the US empire.

AUKUS exists to manage the risks created by its existence, and the same is true of ANZUS and all the other ways our nation has become knit into the workings of the US war machine. If we’re being told that our entanglements with the US war machine will make it almost impossible for us to avoid entering into a horrific war that will destroy our country, then the obvious conclusion is that we must disentangle ourselves from it immediately.

The problem is not that Australia’s corrupt media are saying our nation will have to follow the US into war with China, the problem is that they’re almost certainly correct. 

The Australian media aren’t criminal in telling us the US is going to drag us into a war of unimaginable horror; that’s just telling the truth. No, the Australian media are criminal for telling us that we just need to accept that and get comfortable with the idea.

No. Absolutely not. This war cannot happen. Must not happen. We cannot go to war with a nuclear-armed country that also happens to be propping up our economy as our number one trading partner. We need to shred whatever alliances need to be shredded, enrage whatever powers we need to enrage, kick the US troops out of this country, get ourselves out of the Commonwealth while we’re at it, bring Assange home where he belongs, and become a real nation.

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Timothy Clifford – Submission – Australia has the opportunity to become a clean energy superpower – nuclear is unviable and a distraction

Submission No. 122 To: Committee Secretary, Senate Standing Committees on Environment and
Submission: The Environment and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing
Nuclear Energy Prohibitions) Bill 2022

I am writing as I was extremely concerned to learn that several politicians are
pushing for the removal of the Nuclear Energy Prohibitions Bill. I am strongly
opposed to this as nuclear energy is not a viable solution both in a financial and
technological sense and presents a huge risk for current and future Australians.

Everyday Australians are currently feeling the pressure of energy price
increases due to our ageing infrastructure, a result of political inaction for over
a year. Renewables are here, they’re cheaper than all other forms of energy
and have virtually no environmental impact when compared to fossil fuels or
nuclear. Considering nuclear energy will only slow the transition to renewables
and lead to further increases in energy bills for Australian families.

It’s true that sunshine and wind can’t be dug up, which is likely why some
politicians and their millionaire mining donors are so against them.

The proponents of nuclear talk about futuristic, modular reactors. These are
nowhere near being commercially available and it’s unclear if they ever will be.
Even if we assume they will be at some point, the issues around nuclear waste
and security threats remain and these will only increase as climate change
grows more extreme

Our own climate science and policy experts, Climate Council, have already
ruled out nuclear energy as a viable solution – “Nuclear power stations are
highly controversial, can’t be built under existing law in any Australian state or territory, are a more expensive source of power than renewable energy, and present significant challenges in terms of the storage and
transport of nuclear waste, and use of water.”

Let’s listen to the experts, not a
group of self-interested politicians and lobbyists.
I strongly urge members of the senate to decouple Australia’s energy resources
from dangerous, polluting, finite resources and focus our efforts on natural, clean, infinite renewables. We have the potential to be a clean energy superpower, strengthening our economy, security and environment for
Australians now, and in centuries to come.

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Labor prepares return to disastrous Forward Defence doctrine

Pearls and Irritations, By Brian Toohey, Mar 31, 2023

Nearly everything the Labor government says about nuclear subs is ludicrous and highly damaging.

Despite Defence Minister Marles apparently saying Australia will not participate in a war over Taiwan, Hugh White (ex- Dep Head Defence) says the US would never sell nuclear submarines to Australia without guarantees they will always be used in a US war. The reason is that these subs are taken from off its own line of battle. They are not additional submarines from the production line. Once again, Australian sovereignty does not exist in the sense of being able to use US weapons how we want to do after buying them.

Marles now says the nuclear subs are not for war, but to protect Australian merchant shipping. A leading economist Percy Allan points out there are 26,000 cargo ship movements to and from Australia each year. Nuclear subs have terrible maintenance problems and if we buy the expected three second hand Virginia Class attack subs from America, only one might be operationally available at any time and probably none.

One sub, let alone none, can’t protect 26,000 cargo shipping movements, but mainstream journalists swallow this nonsense.

Before his sudden conversion to pacifism, Marles wanted to deploy the nuclear subs off the Chinese coast to fire long-range cruise missiles into the mainland. This represents a return to the Forward Defence doctrine that failed in Singapore in 1942, and later in Vietnam. Arthur Calwell gave a magnificent anti-war speech in 1965. He was fully vindicated when the Vietnamese won a war against a horrendously destructive invasion that was a war crime. Now, Albanese effectively supports war.

With Labor now returning to the disastrous Forward Defence doctrine, it’s worth remembering the Coalition defence minister in 1969 Allen Fairhall scrapped this doctrine and cut military spending by 5%, while there were still 7,000 Australian troops in Vietnam. The Coalition then switched to the direct defence of Australia. Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and Keating all embraced the defence of Australia, not forward defence. Keating also adopted a long sighted policy of seeking our security in Asia, not from it.

Later, in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Howard reverted to do America’s bidding in another war crime of aggression.

Australia’s best defence is it’s surrounded by water and a long way from China or India. There is no evidence either is a threat. If this changes for the worse, the Defence of Australia doctrine will come into its own.

Marles and Albanese will recklessly position nuclear subs off China. But that’s where China’s forces are concentrated. Because Marles and Albanese would be playing to China’s strengths, they would then be responsible for a disastrous military blunder when the subs are sunk.

It would be much better to play to our strengths, by defending the approaches to Australia by buying highly advanced, medium sized, submarines that are superior to nuclear subs.

Marles estimates his subs will cost up to $368 billion (realistically over $400b). As explained later, that includes the crazy decision to pay the UK to co-design 8 new submarines for Australia. This dwarfs the next highest defence acquisition —$17 billion for F-35 fighter jets.

The US Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service have an outstanding record for exposing appalling waste and incompetence in US submarine shipyards. One Virginia sub was tied up at a jetty for five years before it could be fixed. The US has a military budget of $US880, yet Albanese is donating $3 billion to help improve the shipyards.

Marles did not take the responsible ministerial step and commission a cost-effectiveness study of the options before splurging $400 billion. Australia could get ten superior conventional submarines for a total $10-$15 billion from Japan, South Korea or Germany that could deter any hostile ships approaching Australia from a couple of thousand kilometres away. Submerged drones and mines could also help at a low cost.

Japan’s new Taigei subs use highly advanced batteries that run silently for several weeks without needing to surface to charge the batteries. South Korean and German submarines are about to get much improved batteries. These new subs can run silently on hydrogen fuel cells as well as batteries.

Nuclear subs are easier to detect. When they go at high-speed, they make a detectable wake. Being much bigger, they have a stronger magnetic impression than suitable conventional boats.

Like other subs, nuclear ones have to come to the surface to stick up periscopes and radar and electronic warfare equipment. They produce an easily detected infrared signal due to the reactor constantly boiling water for steam engines to propel the subs. (Nuclear power does not propel the sub. Puffing Billy does.)

Another huge problem with nuclear subs is the government has rightly said it will take all the highly enriched uranium waste at end of the sub’s life, then safely store it. This requires the waste to be vitrified overseas and returned in thick drums for burying deep in stable dry underground rock formations for hundreds of years and heavily guarded. Each reactor weighs 100 tons and contains 200 kg of highly radioactive uranium. When used in nuclear power stations, uranium is enriched to about 5%, the same as for French and Chinese nuclear submarines and 20% for Russian. It’s 93% for ours, greatly exacerbating the disposal problem.

I recently asked Australia’s principal nuclear safety organisation, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency about how such waste could be safely stored. It refused to answer. Perhaps it was intimidated by Defence.

Marles exacerbated the problem by saying the waste uranium would be stored “on” defence land. It can’t be stored safely on top of the land. It must be stored deep underground. He’s not dealing with low-grade hospital nuclear waste.

Neither the US or the UK has a high-level underground nuclear waste repository. They could easily pressure Australia into securing their waste from their nuclear subs reactors here.

It seems likely the burial site will be on land in central Australia that is important to Australia’s indigenous population. Whatever happens, it is essential there is no repeat of the way the indigenous people were wilfully exposed to radiation during and after the British nuclear tests in the 1950s and 60s in Australia’s south and central desert areas…………………………………………………………….. more

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Spotlight on Dr. Helen Caldicott

by WS Editors | Mar 28, 2023,

It’s been nearly 40 years since If You Love This Planet won the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.

The film is comprised of a lecture given to students by the celebrated nuclear critic Dr. Helen Caldicott, president at the time of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

With the growing intensity of the conflict in Ukraine, and the corresponding potential for the deployment of nuclear weapons, Dr. Caldicott’s decades-old warning against the use of the atomic bomb is fresh and resonant.

Caldicott analyzes the medical and geo-physical consequences of the detonation of a modern nuclear weapon, explains why there is no surviving a nuclear war, and exposes the folly of superpower arguments on behalf of maintaining tactical nuclear superiority. The film ends with her call for citizen action, and this timeless and poetic plea:

“If you love this planet, and you watch the spring come, and you watch magnolias flower, and you watch the wisteria come out, and you smell a rose, you will realize that you are going to have to change the priorities of your life. If you love this planet.”

Four decades after “If You Love this Planet” was released, Helen Caldicott, now 85, sat down for this interview at her home in Australia. She notes the absence of progress toward the eradication of nuclear weapons, and decries the failure of the nuclear states to eliminate the greatest threat to human survival.

Arguably the most articulate and forceful advocate for disarmament and abolition in the nuclear era, Dr. Helen Caldicott has devoted the last forty two years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age and the necessary changes in human behavior to prevent environmental destruction.

In 1971, Dr. Caldicott played a major role in Australia’s opposition to French atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific; in 1975 she worked with the Australian trade unions to educate their members about the medical dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, with particular reference to uranium mining.

While living in the United States from 1977 to 1986, as President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, she helped invigorate an organization of 23,000 doctors committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. The international umbrella group (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. She also founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND) in the US in 1980.

Dr. Caldicott has received many prizes and awards for her work, including the Lannan Foundation’s 2003 Prize for Cultural Freedom and twenty one honorary doctoral degrees. The Smithsonian named Helen Caldicott one of the most influential women of the 20th Century.

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, personal stories | Leave a comment

Helen Bradbury – Submission – nuclear power not only useless against climate change, but also becomes a serious risk in extreme weather events

Environment and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Nuclear Energy Prohibitions) Bill 2022 Submission No. 103

Australians do not need or want Nuclear Power in this country.

Australia needs FAST transition to renewable energy & going down the nuclear energy path is expensive, slow & delays our country’s path to a better energy solution to assist in delaying climate change. The delays in regulating & building nuclear power will seriously delay actions that can mitigate climate change issues.

With floods & fires recently all over Australia (& extreme weather events World wise)we need alternative power solutions Immediately!
Nuclear Power is 5 times more expensive to establish than renewable energy infrastructure
It is a serious risk during 1 in 100/ climate change weather events( floods/fires etc).

We don’t need nuclear power. Australians need renewable energy infrastructure to be encouraged & built.
Saul Griffith “The Big Switch” author has worked in the US but now lives back in Australia & is the man to speak to. ( listen to his Radio National interview) we need renewables.

Nuclear power is risky, very slow to provide an energy solution and very expensive to build, operate and the …

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

AUKUS: Mirage or reality?

So far, all this remains hypothetical.

Less hypothetical are the immediate benefits to flow to UK and US shipyards. In the absence of its own facilities to build such submarines, the Australian taxpayer is funding the naval industries of both countries.

It was little wonder that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was reported to be ‘buzzing about it when he told ministers, smiling and bouncing on the balls of his feet.’

Eureka Street Binoy Kampmark, 28 March 2023

 In his March 15 address to a Canberra press gallery, former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating was unsparing about those ‘seriously unwise ministers in government’ – notably Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles, unimpressed by their uncritical embrace of the US war machine. ‘The Albanese Government’s complicity in joining with Britain and the United States in a tripartite build of a nuclear submarine for Australia under the AUKUS arrangements represents the worst international decision by an Australian Labor government since the former Labor leader, Billy Hughes, sought to introduce conscription to augment Australian forces in World War One.’

The bipartisanship extended to a meeting between Marles and Wong with their Coalition counterparts on September 15, 2021 just prior to the announcement of the security pact. Since then, questions loomed about acquisition, construction and delivery of the nuclear-propelled submarines. This month, the picture was made clearer, if troublingly so.

The scale of this project is staggering in cost projections, envisaging an outlay of $368 billion for up to eight vessels over three decades, with possibly more in the offing. Canberra will initially purchase at least three US-manufactured nuclear submarines while contributing ‘significant additional resources’ to US shipyards. Two more vessels are also being thrown in as a possibility, should the ‘need’ arise.

During this time, design and construction will take place on a new submarine dubbed the SSN-AUKUS, building on existing work undertaken by the UK on replacing the Astute-class submarines. It will be, according to the White House, ‘based upon the United Kingdom’s next generation SSN design while incorporating cutting edge US submarine technologies, and will be built and deployed by both Australia and the United Kingdom.’

The White House statement also promises visits by US nuclear submarines to Australia this year, with Australian personnel joining US crews for ‘training and development’. The UK will take its turn at the start of 2026. In 2027, a UK-US ‘Submarine Rotational Force-West’ (SRF-West) will be established at HMAS Stirling near Perth. It follows that Australia will be further militarised as a forward base in future US operations in the Indo-Pacific…………………………………………………………

So far, all this remains hypothetical. Less hypothetical are the immediate benefits to flow to UK and US shipyards. In the absence of its own facilities to build such submarines, the Australian taxpayer is funding the naval industries of both countries. It was little wonder that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was reported to be ‘buzzing about it when he told ministers, smiling and bouncing on the balls of his feet.’

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, West Australian Labor backbencher Josh Wilson, echoing the concerns of regional powers such as Indonesia and Malaysia, has also raised the issue of how ‘we can adequately deal with the non-proliferation risks involved in what is a novel arrangement, by which a non-nuclear weapons state under the NPT (Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty) comes to acquire weapons-grade material.

To this can be added the problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste; for decades the Australian government has failed to identify and build a deep storage facility for low- to intermediate-level waste. Currently, the controversial selection of the Kimba site in South Australia is being litigated in the Federal Court by the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation (BDAC). The proposed facility does not cover the issues surrounding high-level waste typical from such submarines, which are bound to be even more contentious.

A gaggle of former senior Labor ministers have also emerged with questions and criticisms. unanswered questions. …………………………………………

For all the salutes, flag waving and celebrations, the AUKUS balance sheet is looking increasingly bleak for the peacemakers, even as Australia enmeshes itself further within the US military apparatus and its lines of command and control. Tubagus Hasanuddin, a senior member of Indonesia’s ruling Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has made the pertinent observation: ‘AUKUS is created for fighting.’ more

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Community trust requires public discussion and transparency

David Noonan 30 Mar 23

According to the Department of Defence, the process for selecting a site for high-level nuclear waste will include engaging with community and First Nations groups.

Community engagement expert, Professor Sara Bice from the Australian National University, says best practice consultation for something as controversial as nuclear submarines or high-level radioactive waste would ideally begin early, be transparent and involve public discussion about whether the technology is desired in the first place.

“We’re beyond the point where communities can have genuine consultation on this issue. Because the decision has already been made for them. The government has decided that this is a type of weaponry and defence mechanism that is going to occur within Australia. So, things like the nuclear waste sites […] will have to occur in order for AUKUS to proceed.”

The option of a site in outback South Australia has been floated by the Premiers of Victoria and Western Australia.

But Bice says there are implications of proposing a waste site in outback South Australia, given that state already went through a robust process – with a Royal Commission, public engagement and a Citizen Jury – to consider high-level waste in 2015 and 2016. That process concluded with 27 Native Title groups and the majority of the Citizen Jury rejecting the idea.

Re-opening the discussion of nuclear waste in South Australia suggests the expectation you might get a different outcome, she says.

“I think that’s a bit disingenuous, and it undermines the thing that we look for most when we talk about a social licence, which is trust.”

She says when large, controversial decisions are made without public discussion or consultation, it creates fear and conditions ripe for opposition and protest.

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wastes | Leave a comment

China’s new warning to Australia over nuclear submarine deal

China has fired off another dire warning to Australia, amid growing tension over the nuclear submarine deal with the US and Britain.

Carla Mascarenhas, 1 Apr 23


Global superpowers unite against US

‘Anytime, anywhere’: Kim’s nuke threat

Dan appears on Chinese TV

China has fired off a frightening warning to Australia over its nuclear submarines deal with the US and the UK, declaring it may trigger an unpredictable global arms race.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday that once a Pandora’s box is opened, the “regional strategic balance will be disrupted and regional security will be seriously threatened”.

The United States, Australia and UK this month unveiled details of a plan to provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines from the early 2030s to counter China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

“China firmly opposes the establishment of the so-called ‘trilateral security partnership’ between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia,” said Tan Kefei, a spokesman at the Chinese defence ministry, during a regular press briefing.

“This small circle dominated by Cold War mentality is useless and extremely harmful.”

Mr Tan added such co-operation was an extension of the nuclear deterrence policy of individual countries, a game tool for building an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO” and seriously affected peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region………………………………………………………….

Richard Dunley, a naval and diplomatic historian, said the deal “looks best from Washington – they get major wins in terms of basing, maintenance support and recapitalisation in their yards”.

He noted the Australian perspective was “less clear”.

“The cost is astronomical,” he wrote on Twitter.

Huge but still unknown amounts will be paid to the US in subsidies and then to buy the Virginias. This capability will only realise materialise mid-next decade, and is only a stopgap.”

April 1, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Has the USA captured Australia’s media?

Australia is now on a strategic risk escalator controlled by Washington. Yet our media presents Beijing as the protagonist.

By Mike Gilligan, Mar 29, 2023,

The uniformly negative reaction of the national press gallery to former PM Paul Keating’s views on Australia’s security raises questions not just of its intellectual adequacy but of whether the media has been captured by and is knowingly serving the United States at Australia’s expense.

How might one distinguish commentary which knowingly favours US objectives which increase risk and cost for Australia from incompetence having the same result? Perhaps case studies of commentators’ past writings could reveal patterns to help readers judge.

Let’s take a prominent journalist. Peter Hartcher, political and international editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, is richly experienced. A long-standing opinion writer at the national level who has spent years in the US. One assumes such a figure would inform Australians authentically and perceptively of developments in the United States which affect Australia as a major security partner, from an Australian perspective. Not only should we expect insightful knowledge to reside in such a figure but that this be evident in published work.

Undoubtedly, since the signing of the ANZUS treaty in 1951 the decisive shift affecting our security relationship has been the influence on US foreign policy of “neo-conservativism”. 

 Spawned in Chicago academia and arriving in Washington following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, “neocons” contrived the unfounded invasion of Iraq in 2003. Their ethos prevails to this day. In a nutshell, the neocon ethos espouses pre-emptive action to prevent any nation becoming a challenge to US hegemony, by identifying potential rivals early and countering with force as necessary. Anything goes, including truth. That allies should bear the burden for US dominance is axiomatic.

It is in this context that China has been declared by the US to be the principal threat to its global domination. Based on the neocon algorithm, China is deemed to be the priority political and economic competitor, to be diminished to insignificance, employing military force as necessary.

The neocon policy mindset in America is profoundly different from that which Australia experienced in San Francisco seventy years ago when negotiating ANZUS. One would expect a half-competent Australian international editor to pick up on that shift. And embed this new reality in writing on US/China security matters. To thus shape the tone of the issues and conclusions. Assessing Hartcher’s writing for even a hint of this quality goes to the competence of the correspondent. Readers can judge whether such an attribute resides in Hartcher’s commentary. Which says nothing necessarily of motive, however.

Closer to home and more recently, Australia’s security architecture has been destroyed by America pursuing domination of China. The destruction has passed unnoticed, without debate. Here media incompetence generally is so sustained and glaring that questions of motive automatically arise.

Who would know that the ANZUS treaty has been buried in practice? Whilst it failed to offer Australia a binding security guarantee it did support us in valuable ways to build our own self- reliant defence, using our own money for our own priorities. Now that self-reliance is done. America has insinuated its forces onto Australian territory and into our defence resources and our foreign and defence policy – for its own objectives against China.

How? The takeover was formalised through a document known as the Force Posture Agreement, compliments of former US Secretary of State John Kerry visiting us in 2014. Embraced by the Abbot government and fertilised by every government since. Therein, Australia agrees to provide the real estate and support for American military operations against China, under American control and command, at America’s pleasure. It is expandable, again at America’s pleasure, without limits.

Hereby, Australia has taken on acutely elevated geostrategic risk – with no end in sight, willingly. Australia is now on a strategic risk escalator controlled by Washington. Yet our media presents Beijing as the protagonist.

Worse, as with ANZUS, America has not provided any guarantee of armed response when Australia is attacked. The Australian government is now subsidising the US to attack China from our sovereign territory whenever the US chooses, with no insurance.

Overturning of Australia’s security superstructure should have been serious grist to a foreign correspondent’s mill. Yet Hartcher has not even scratched that surface in commentary. Really, could mere incompetence explain this void, not just in Hartcher’s coverage but across the entire fourth estate? Ignorance is an unlikely explanator given Hatcher’s deep, relevant background. Clearly it is to America’s benefit that Australians remain uninformed of the hazards being imposed, and our extra costs, with our governments’ encouragement.

Australians are forced to entertain purposeful manipulation of their right to know, to America’s advantage.

All the while, some earnest Australians have been working for change so that Parliament has the say on Australia going to war. What good is that when America has free rein to wage war from Australia whenever it suits Washington? American operations mounted from here against China will automatically render us at war in China’s eyes. What any Australian parliament or government might say would be of no practical consequence to a China under attack from B52 bombers based at Tindal.

Then there was Hartcher’s “red alert” series on war with China, recently run by the Herald. That paper’s editorial advised readers that “fighting with China could come as early as 2026”. A professional editor would have demanded authoritative evidence. It’s easy enough to come by, publicly. The US Secretary of Defence intelligence report to Congress for 2022 advises that China’s military plan is to be able to restrain US forces on its periphery by 2027. That is, China is focussed on dealing with American military pressure on its sea and air surrounds. And Australian forces are involved now in that pressure on China. So the fact is that China is trying to deal with attack on its territory by forces which include Australia’s. That destroys the foundation of Hartcher’s “red alert” construct.

In short, Hartcher has a habit of misleading Australians on their security, and the enormous risk being dumped on Australia by our friend America. Not by China. Both by commission and omission this commentator’s work exhibits a pattern of serving US interests while denying Australian readers. Whether this is purposeful servitude to American interests at Australian’s expense is for readers to decide.

More surely, from one who surely knows, Henry Kissinger once said: “To be an enemy of the United States is dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal”. No Australian government has had the ticker to look for other ground.

March 31, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

ACTU digs in on nuclear-free policy in headache for Labor over Aukus subs

Coalition seizes on Michele O’Neil’s comments, claiming they send a ‘confusing signal’ on $368bn nuclear submarine acquisition

Paul Karp Guardian, 28 Mar 23

Australian unions have restated their position in favour of a “nuclear-free defence policy”, creating a headache for the Albanese government over the $368bn Aukus nuclear submarine acquisition.

The position, restated by Australian Council of Trade Unions president, Michele O’Neil, on Tuesday, was seized on by the Coalition, which claimed it sent a “confusing signal” for Labor and its industrial wing to be divided on nuclear submarines.

Since the deal was announced earlier in March, the Albanese government has faced criticism from former prime ministers Paul Keating and Malcolm Turnbull, and former Labor ministers Doug Cameron, Gareth Evans, Kim Carr and Bob Carr.

The Labor caucus has united behind the government’s position, with only MP Josh Wilson expressing public concerns, despite many unions opposing the nuclear submarine acquisition.

Asked if she would have preferred the purchase of conventional submarines, O’Neil told the National Press Club that the ACTU had “a longstanding policy of opposition to nuclear power, nuclear waste and proliferation”.

“We also have a longstanding policy position that supports a nuclear-free defence policy.

“These are not positions that have been developed in the last weeks and months. They are decades long and our position hasn’t changed.”…………………………………………..

March 31, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

The Road to War: latest film by David Bradbury

By Sandi KeaneMar 28, 2023,

As international tensions rise to a new level, with the Ukraine war passing its first anniversary and the Albanese Government set to announce its commitment of hundreds of billions of dollars to new weaponry, nuclear propelled subs, stealth bombers etc, The Road to War brings into sharp focus why it is not in Australia’s best interests to be dragged into an American-led war with China.

The Road to War is directed by one of Australia’s most respected political documentary filmmakers, David Bradbury. Bradbury has more than four decades of journalistic and filmmaking experience behind him having covered many of the world’s trouble spots since the end of the Vietnam war — SE Asia, Iraq, East Timor, revolutions and civil war in Central and South America, India, China, Nepal and West Papua.

“I was driven to make this film because of the urgency of the situation. I fear we will be sucked into a nuclear war with China and/or Russia from which we will never recover, were some of us to survive the first salvo of nuclear warheads,” says the twice Oscar-nominated filmmaker.

“We must put a hard brake on Australia joining in the current arms race as the international situation deteriorates. We owe it to our children and future generations of Australians who already face the gravest existential danger of their young lives from Climate Change,” says Bradbury.

There is general concern among the defence analysts Bradbury interviews in the film that Australia is being set up to be the US proxy in its coming war with China. And that neither the Labor nor LNP governments have learnt anything from being dragged into America’s wars of folly since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, two disastrous wars in Iraq and America’s failed 20 year war in Afghanistan which ripped that country apart, only to see the Taliban warlords return the country and its female population to feudal times.

“Basing US B52 and Stealth bombers in Australia is all part of preparing Australia to be the protagonist on behalf of the United States in a war against China. If the US can’t get Taiwan to be the proxy or its patsy, it will be Australia,” says former Australian ambassador to China and Iran, John Lander.

Military analyst, Dr Richard Tanter, fears the US military’s spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, will be the first target of any direct confrontation between the US and Russia or China.

“The US military base at Pine Gap is critical to the US military’s global strategy, especially nuclear missile threats in the region. The generals in Moscow and Beijing would have it as a top priority on their nuclear Hit List,” says Dr Tanter whose 40 years of ground-breaking research on Pine Gap with colleague, Dr Des Ball, has provided us with the clearest insight to the unique role Pine Gap plays for the US. Everything from programming US drone attacks to detecting the first critical seconds of nuclear ICBM’s lifting off from their deep underground silos in China or Russia, to directing crippling nuclear retaliation on its enemy.
“Should Russia or China want to send a signal to Washington that it means business and ‘don’t push us any further’, a one-off nuclear strike on Pine Gap would do that very effectively, without triggering retaliation from the US since it doesn’t take out a US mainland installation or city,” says Dr Tanter.

“It’s horrible to talk about part of Australia in these terms but one has to be a realist with what comes to us by aligning ourselves with the US,” Tanter says.

“Studies show in the event of even a very limited nuclear exchange between any of the nuclear powers, up to two billion people would starve to death from nuclear winter,” says Dr Sue Wareham of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.

“The Australian Government, Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles, have a serious responsibility to look after all Australians. Not just those living in cities. Were Pine Gap to be hit with even one nuclear missile, Health Minister Mark Butler would be hard pressed to find any volunteer nurses and doctors willing to risk their lives to help survivors in Alice Springs, Darwin and surrounding communities from even one nuclear missile hitting this critical US target,” says Dr Wareham.

Further information or interviews with David Bradbury:

Media enquiries:
Sandi Keane: 0427 260 319, Twitter: @jarrapin

March 30, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Omigawd! Nuclear zealot Jonathon Mead is to get his own little government department nuclear supergroup

While the exact contours, structure and mandate of the group are yet to take shape, the role of this new organisational arrangement bears examination. Driven by the complexities of nuclear technology, the group’s remit reaches outside conventional defence policy domains into areas such as education and industrial policy that are usually led by domestic policy agencies at the federal and state level.

Planning for Australia’s nuclear submarine ‘supergroup’ , 30 Mar 2023, |Hugh Piper, The Strategist,

“………. With the nuclear-powered submarines to be acquired under the AUKUS partnership, Australia has set itself perhaps the most ambitious public-procurement undertaking in its history. To match the scale of this venture, according to a report in The Australian, the submarine taskforce led by Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead will evolve and grow into a new ‘a stand-alone group inside Defence that will draw personnel from across the government’.

In public-service speak, a ‘group’ is usually the largest organisational unit in a federal government department, headed by a deputy-secretary-level public servant or a three-star military officer. That the submarine acquisition is being elevated to this level reflects the magnitude of the enterprise and the fact that it will become a permanent and dominant feature of the Australian defence organisation for decades to come.

Equally interesting, though, is the scope of this new group in Defence. The Australian described it as a multiagency group ‘responsible for all elements of the program, including safety, non-proliferation and regulatory measures, international engagement, education and training, industry development and project management’. Its head will have ‘a direct reporting line to Defence Minister Richard Marles’.

While the exact contours, structure and mandate of the group are yet to take shape, the role of this new organisational arrangement bears examination. Driven by the complexities of nuclear technology, the group’s remit reaches outside conventional defence policy domains into areas such as education and industrial policy that are usually led by domestic policy agencies at the federal and state level.

Defence will have to acquire new policy capabilities to tackle these issues—but also develop networks and institutional relationships with a much wider range of domestic stakeholders. Moreover, the government will need to decide the exact limits of Defence’s policy leadership. Education and industrial policy are, for instance, intrinsically linked to labour and innovation policy.

The reported scope of the group also includes policy domains and functions that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade would conventionally lead, namely international engagement and non-proliferation. For Defence instead to take leadership of these areas would mark a fundamental shift in the division of labour in Australian foreign policy.

…………………………  There needs to be room for proper consideration of broader foreign policy equities within a structure that is unapologetically mission-focused on delivering defence capability. As the mixed reaction in the Indo-Pacific to AUKUS has demonstrated, Australia can’t assume an overall permissive environment for its strategic policy, so diplomacy is as vital to manifesting the submarines as building a nuclear industrial base. These risks are, however, manageable through effective governance.

…………..There’s also speculation that it could have its own budget line separate from the rest of Defence

March 30, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Aukus subs deal firms China support for Asean nuclear weapon-free zone

Beijing ‘willing’ to become first nuclear-armed state to sign treaty pledging to keep the weapons out of Southeast Asia

China’s efforts to woo its neighbours is a counter to US alliance building in the region, which now includes nuclear-powered submarines for Australia

Laura Zhou SCMP, 28 Mar 23

China is willing to sign a treaty making Southeast Asia a nuclear weapons-free zone, in Beijing’s latest effort to woo its neighbours and counter Washington’s decision to speed the sale of nuclear-powered submarines and technology to Australia.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang made the pledge at a meeting with Kao Kim Hourn, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in Beijing on Monday. It would make China the first major nuclear power to commit to the zone.

Asean secretary general Kao Kim Hourn (left) and Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang in Beijing on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

China is willing to sign a treaty making Southeast Asia a nuclear weapons-free zone, in Beijing’s latest effort to woo its neighbours and counter Washington’s decision to speed the sale of nuclear-powered submarines and technology to Australia.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang made the pledge at a meeting with Kao Kim Hourn, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in Beijing on Monday. It would make China the first major nuclear power to commit to the zone.

“China is willing to take the lead in signing the protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaty and advocate with Asean for solidarity and win-win cooperation to safeguard regional security and stability,” he said.

The treaty has been in force since 1997 and obliges the 10 Asean member states “not to develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons; station or transport nuclear weapons by any means; or test or use nuclear weapons”.

None of the five recognised nuclear-armed states – China, France, Russia, Britain and the US – has acceded to the treaty’s protocol, which implies a commitment not to use nuclear weapons within the zone or against any contracting state.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in 2021 that Beijing was ready to sign the protocol – also known as the Bangkok Treaty – “at the earliest possible date”, just months after the US-led Aukus alliance with Australia and Britain was unveiled.

The latest pledge comes at a time when China is increasingly vigilant towards Aukus, which two weeks ago announced a pathway for Australia to acquire three, possibly five, US nuclear-powered submarines by the early 2030s.

In his meeting with Kao, Qin said China’s domestic and foreign policies had maintained “a high degree of stability and continuity”, according to a Chinese foreign ministry readout.

Qin said China’s policies would “inject more stability into regional peace and tranquillity, while providing more strong momentum for regional development and prosperity”………………….

Beijing is strongly opposed to Aukus and the Quad – a US-led partnership with Japan, India and Australia – which together form the centrepiece of Washington’s strategy of building alliances to contain China, in its view.

The Aukus announcement – which may pave the way for Canberra to eventually build its own attack submersibles – was described by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin as “nothing but selfish”. The US, Australia and Britain “had gone further down a wrong and dangerous road”, he said.

The deal also intensified regional concerns in Southeast Asia. Hours after the announcement, Malaysia said it was important for all countries to refrain “from any provocation that could potentially trigger an arms race or affect peace and security in the region”.

Indonesia, another major power in Southeast Asia, urged Australia to comply with its non-proliferation treaty obligations, saying that it was the responsibility of all countries to maintain peace and stability in the region…………………………..

March 30, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Diana Rickard Submission – Australia’s nuclear bans reflect public rejection of the nuclear industry, and support for clean renewables

Submission No 74. against Environment and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Nuclear
Energy Prohibitions) Bill 2022

Nuclear Power is not needed in Australia. Germany is decommissioning its last two nuclear reactors.
There is enough science and technology to provide reliable and sustainable renewable energy for
industrial and residential needs in Germany and in Australia, we have more than enough sunlight,
wind and water to provide clean and sustainable energy for our needs.

  1. Our legislative prohibitions reflect public and community concern over and rejection of
    nuclear power and nuclear waste storage in Australia.
  2. Australia does not need reactor meltdowns, fires and explosions as happened at
    Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power site. We have inherited colonial
    nuclear bomb testing sites and uranium processing sites that still need rehabilitating
    costing billions of dollars and these weapon testing sites have caused sickness and
    permanent disability to people caught up in their poisonis a disgrace that should not be
  3. There is still no permanent nuclear waste disposal facility operating anywhere in the
    world for high-level nuclear waste generated by nuclear power reactors.
  4. Uranium mined in Australia is used for failed nuclear reactors and weapons proliferation
    overseas and the international safeguards system has not been funded anywhere near
    what it would take to avoid or even monitor this. We should avoid further
    contamination from dirty and dangerous nuclear power plants in Australia adding to this
  5. Talk of AUKUS nuclear powered submarines and B52s carrying nuclear weapons while on
    Australian soil makes me very uneasy that we could become a military target. The risk of
    reactors becoming military targets (as has been the case with research reactors in the
    Middle East on multiple occasions) remains a serious concern.
  6. Many countries do not have clear and unambiguous rules governing nuclear power and
    nuclear waste. This is despite the fact that inadequate regulation is widely accepted as a
    main cause of the Fukushima disaster. In a country like Australia where a national motto
    in the 1980s was ‘ Near enough is good enough’ followed by ‘Where the bloody hell are
    you?’ hardly shows our commitment to clear, accountable and sustainable rules-based
    governance on vital issues, does it?
  7. If we remove prohibitions to nuclear power, we would then need significant reforms in
    existing legislation not designed to deal with nuclear power. We would then need a
    massive increase in government resources as well as recruiting an appropriately skilled
    and capable workforce.
  8. With resources concentrating on getting nuclear power right, essential resources to help
    us tackle human-induced climate change, secure a national renewable energy policy and
    deliver modern environmental protection legislation would be lost.

Australia is suffering massive infrastructure, livelihood and life loss due to climate change floods that
should be once in a hundred years but are happening regularly. Our environment is suffering
through massive landclearing by other than small, family farmers or miners.
We cannot trust our future to greedy people and foreign corporations with no care except to make
short-term profit even when it destroys our national interest and iconic environment.
Nuclear power plants are unsustainable, corporately owned and dirty. Renewable energy can
operate independently of large, asset-greedy business interest and can be installed on homes and in
small paddocks. Renewable energy belongs to the people and does not harm the environment as
surely as nuclear energy does.

March 29, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment