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Tag: Labor

Keating Attacks the AUKUS Submarine Deal at the National Press Club

15 March 2023

Paul Keating attacked the AUKUS submarine deal at a conference at the National Press Club today.  He was at his scathing best, and put together the arguments well, as he always does.

In essence he said that a scare campaign had demonised China with a lot of Cold War rhetoric from the ‘spooks’ and convinced Morrison, who was always happy for a headline to get some publicity for his flailing government. 

Labor was scared to losing the election by being ‘soft on defence’ so went along with whatever the Liberals wanted. So Labor has been conned by the spooks and the Liberals as well.

Keating says we have a defence policy, rather than a foreign policy, and Senator Wong running around the Pacific ‘handing out money with a lei around her neck’ is not a foreign policy.

The US wants bases here, to lock Australia into their side in the confrontation with China and to sell expensive submarines.  As Keating points out, at the circus in San Diego, only one country was actually paying- Australia.

He also ridiculed Australia for involving Britain, pointing out that in 1942 they left Singapore and in 1968 announced an ‘East of Suez’ policy that meant that they would not do much here. They then joined the EU, leaving the Commonwealth to its economic fate, and would have stayed with the EU, but for the mistake of Brexit, created by Boris Johnson et al who had silly dreams of bygone Empires. Since the UK has left the EU they are trying to have a ‘global strategy’, but they do not have much choice. But this is not economic relevance, and Australia is just being silly to go back to there for its military security.

As far as the submarines are concerned, he points out that the cost of 9 nuclear submarines would  pay for about 45 conventional ones.  If one about 1 in 3 can be at sea at the same time, which is what most navies manage, that means 3 nuclear at sea rather than 15 conventional  ones. And even if the 15 have to surface, this is only about every 3 days if they are cruising, and there are 15 for an enemy to worry about.  The nuclear subs are 8,000 tonnes as opposed to 4,000 tons, so are likely to be able to be found almost as easily as the conventional ones as detection technology evolves. They will also only carry the same torpedoes as the conventional ones, so their strike power will be 3 v 15.

Some years ago, I read an excellent book, ‘The Secret State’ by Richard Hall published in 1978 which looked at the reports from the spy agencies during the Cold War in the 1950 and 1960s and contrasted these with the conventional media editorials and opinion pieces of the time. The spy analyses were full of paranoia and worries about the Russian threat if we did not immediately spend a lot of money on defence.  The major newspapers looked at what was happening and made more sanguine comments about economic and trade relations.  Years later, things had panned out much as was expected in the major media.  The spy scare stories were almost absurdly laughable.  It seems that in this case the spies have convinced Morrison, who has taken the Liberals, now Labor down this absurd path that we and our children will pay for.   

The Liberals have said that they will be bi-partisan as Labor makes budget cuts to pay for it.  What will go? Stage 3 tax cuts?  Jobseeker pay rises?  Pensions?  Medicare? NDIS?  Subsidies to private schools or private health insurance?  Tax exemptions to religious organisations or Super contributions?  The Liberals were happy to cut all social welfare, but no doubt having made the initial commitment to bipartisanship will still criticise any actual cuts as they come along.

The Chinese, presumably will now continue to make our trade difficult. They are a rising power that is unlikely to invade us, and we should work within this framework.  It is called realism.

Here is an article on SBS:

Here is the interview on youtube:

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NSW Labor Weak on Gambling

8 December 2022

With the NSW Election due in March, Labor leader Chris Minns obviously does not want to upset the gambling, hotel and club industry, so is wimping out on gambling control.

The Liberals, under the religious Dominic Perrottet, are likely to lose the election, so are willing to bring in cashless gaming cards, which will allow the money lost to be traced, or limits placed on problem gamblers.  The gaming industry hates this, as most gamblers actually cannot afford it, and the money laundering component is very large but currently unquantified.

Labor could support Perrottet and get the job done, but would rather cuddle up to the gambling industry, win the election and then presumably make some sort of token gesture to the voters.  No wonder the big parties are on the nose.

The power of the clubs and pubs is very considerable of course. Labor had banning pokies as a policy in Tasmania in 2018 and just lost, winning 3 seats when they needed six.   Gambling industry money was rated  a considerable factor in the loss.

Here is the SMH article

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Barnaby Joyce may make more trouble for Labor

26 June 2021

There has been a lot of talk about how Barnaby will make trouble for the Coalition. The few progressives there who were trying to do things on Climate Change will have an even harder road. Basically the Government has taken the easy road of looking at short term changes to mining jobs, and pleasing the fossil fuel donors.

Whereas once politicians at least pretended to govern for everyone, now they unashamedly are only interested in their own voters and getting the best deal for them, never mind what the rest of the country does or gets.

I am reminded of a deal in the US where the armaments manufacturers were in the North  and the tobacco growers were in the South.  Both would have lost if there was a vote on their issue.  But when the armaments industry and the tobacco farmers made a pact to vote together, they always won.  So arms got huge budgets and tobacco got subsidies and no impediments from the health lobby. The consequences of this for the whole world were considerable.

So back here in Oz, Fitzgibbon is trying to get Labor to ‘go back to its roots’, which means chasing the dying jobs as they did in the forest industry.  It was a bad sign when the energetic and forward-looking Mark Butler was moved from the Energy portfolio. He had been the voice for sustainable development and renewable energy.  Labor sat unconvincingly on the fence, not wanting to offend those of us who saw action on Climate Change as their key responsibility, and doing a pathetic ‘me too’ to the supposed coal voters in the marginal seats.  The Liberal Lite trick will not work.  We are not impressed with the idea that we have to vote for them because they are marginally better than the Libs.

Labor has to get a policy to go to renewable energy and sustainable development.  There have been a plethora of templates with job opportunities in making and installing solar, wind and batteries.  No one has talked about pumped hydro.  Miners are not without skills in many areas, which would make them easier to re-skill than most. 

Morrison may have an early election.  The bad vaccine rollout makes Australia vulnerable to repeated lockdown, and this and an inability to travel will look worse as the vaccinated First World wakes up and moves before us.  Morrison will look bad in Glasgow at the Climate Summit late in the year.  Why not go now, with the current warm glow that there is not much COVID about and add a bit of a China scare?

This is suggested by Dennis Atkins in The New Daily, and the link to the Fran Kelly interview shows the skill with which Matt Canavan weaves the China scare into the need to keep the coal moving.  A lot of careful thought has been put into this hayseed strategy.  Labor needs to wake up, and the Greens need to have the strategy, even if Labor is smart enough to steal it.

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NSW Politics- the Upper Hunter Farce Continues.

27 May 2021

I was going to write about the farce of the Upper Hunter by-Election, as there was plenty to say about that, so I will start there, but now there is more!

The first thing to say is that the National Party vote fell 2.8% to 31%, which is less than a third of primary votes, yet they claimed a victory!  They claimed that this was because they supported coal mining, yet a lot of farmers and those no directly depended non coal though that this was a bad idea, and it is not clear that this overblown endorsement  of coal is justified.  Labor lost 7.5% to get 21.2% and are now tearing themselves apart- see below for more.  The Shooters lost 10.1%, but this may because One Nation entered the race and got 12.3%. Independents did quite well with a total of 16.8%, with Kirsty O’Connell who was anti-coal being endorsed by Malcolm Turnbull and getting 8.8%. These are all primary votes, because almost two thirds of voters did not give preferences, being encouraged to ‘Just Vote 1’ which means that effectively the Primary vote will determine the outcome, creating a massive advantage to the major parties, which translates into a NSW gerrymander where the Major parties get a much higher percentage of the seat than they got of the primary votes.  It makes a farce of democracy .

Labor should have benefited from the fact that the by-election was rendered necessary by the incumbent Michael Johnsen being accused of raping a sex worker in Parliament House and denying it but still resigning!   But Labor looked very weak because it sits on the fence with coal mining, wanting the current coal miners vote, but also pretending to be the party of progress against climate change.  Their sitting on the fence which was disastrous in Queensland in the last Federal election was disastrous again.  They should have had a plan to transition out of coal with environmental jobs plan, but they seem incapable of such a strategy.  Arguably the State was punished for the Federal deficiency, but NSW State Labor has plenty of incompetence of its own. 

Labor, having lost in a by-election where they are supposed to increase their vote seems keen to do a lot of blood-letting.  After the years of domination by Obeid and the Right and a history of corruption and nepotism there is a very shallow talent pool.  The colourless Jodi Mckay seems to have had no impact on Gladys Berejeklian, despite scandals about sex and asset misallocation, and personal deliberate ignorance.  McKay had apparently cobbled together the numbers to survive, and people moved against her.  The plausible Chris Minns looked likely to be standing up, but John Barilaro, himself no stranger to questionable land deals in Queanbeyan, released a ‘dirt file’ to stop Minns’ ascent.  The file was called ‘Why Chris Minns and Jamie Clements can never run the NSW Labor Party’.  Jamie Clements was accused of sexual assault by a former staffer, and of taking improper donations from a Chinese property developer, Mr Huang.  Presumably there was also something in the file of substance about Minns also, as he resigned from Shadow Cabinet.  It might be noted that he was Shadow Transport Minister yet has not had his voice heard despite the fact that the Liberal strategy of funding underground freeways and selling them as monopolies to the private sector seems to have come from the Los Angeles town planners of the 1960s who recommended getting rid of trams to have private cars as the main means of transport, with a dash of Thatcherite privatisation thrown in. 

Labor’s corruption scandals have sapped their talent and seemingly discouraged good people.  Carmel Tebbutt, John Watkins and Graham West were very good people who resigned before they might have been expected to. 

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Medicare- Did the Liberals try to abolish it?

21 June 2016 This is a current question with Shorten claiming that the Liberals are trying to privatise it and Turnbull calling this a Labor lie. What is the truth?  The answer is in the history of Medicare funding.  Medibank was set up by the Whitlam government and the bulk billing frees were set at […]

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