We are two women. Both women of colour, both lawyers, both who have collectively put in a couple of thousands of hours of volunteer work for our communities. Both have had to work hard to create a space for ourselves.

One is the first woman of South Asian background to be elected the Vice President of any Law Society and the other had the potential to be the first Federal parliamentarian of Vietnamese heritage.  

Yet we are struggling to shatter the double-glazed glass ceiling that women of colour face.  Many women of diverse backgrounds like us are well qualified, hard-working, conscientious and community minded. But we have to work doubly hard to prove ourselves, our mistakes are picked up and scrutinised more so than others and our efforts are constantly undermined.

We are not often directly told to go back to where we came from. These kinds of racist attacks mostly happen on the street, by an unknown person, and not in the professional legal, board and political circles that we frequent through work. But what happened last week, without really saying that, meant exactly that.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s comments are a testimony to the devaluation of the talents of women of colour in discounting them as well-meaning intentions that lack the ability to ‘ever get there’. So if we can never get there because we are not good enough compared to our more-privileged compatriots, where does that leave us? Should we just pack our bags and go back home to achieve our ambitions? But wait, this is home.

When we have such rhetoric from a former Prime Minister, it validates, albeit, unfound, sentiments of many who think we are incompetent, inferior and unworthy of leadership positions. This is not the first time it has happened.  We are constantly excluded from contributing to anything meaningful, sometimes deliberately, sometime unconsciously. We are continually sidelined for leadership opportunities. If we raise issues, we are trouble-makers, if we bring a diverse viewpoint, we are not considered team players, if we seek a leadership position, we get comments about spreading ourselves too thin and our competence is constantly scrutinised.

Achieving diversity targets means more than just replacing white men with white women. The excessive focus on gender equality creates greater inequity for women of diverse backgrounds. Whereas quotas and targets are set for gender equality, there are no such quotas for cultural diversity. Institutions may appear to have met their goals for diversity if they have appointed enough women in leadership positions, but that completely ignores the need for an intersectional approach to diversity.

No matter how much you sympathise, you can’t equate acquired experience with lived experiences. It is similar to the distinctions made between ‘Asia capable leaders’ and leaders of Asian background. The former has acquired theoretical and perhaps limited practical knowledge whereas the latter has lived and breathed the experiences.  To suggest that the level of understanding of issues facing the Asian communities is the same for both, is preposterous and delusional, particularly for political representation that also requires a certain level of connection with the community you represent. On the topic of political representation, the imposition of an Anglo-Celtic candidate who does not reflect the community they seek to represent and has little to no connection to that community, is an added level of privileged arrogance stemming from the belief that marginalised minority communities lack the evolution to understand what is best for them.

But unfortunately, this is not the first time local voices have been stymied by so called faceless men,  nor will it be the last (for any party). Till a commitment is made to move away from the monochromatic view of diversity, it is unlikely that we will see this double-glazed glass ceiling for women shattered.  We often hear, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see”. But we’ve been invisible for too long. We’ve been underrepresented, sidelined and underestimated. We may not feel a small ripple, but no one can miss a tsunami. The waves of change will continue to smash the hegemonic systems that have been stacked against us women, particularly women of colour, for centuries. It will take all of us to keep fighting. Together, we will ride the wave into a better and brighter future for all women and girls from all walks of life.

“We are not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from our own.”

The post We cannot achieve diversity by replacing white men with white women appeared first on Women’s Agenda.

A day after Australia, the US and UK launched a new anti-China military alliance, global sharemarkets had a conniption because of an insolvent Chinese company.

Is there a connection? Well yes, sort of.

Markets are worried that a heavily indebted Chinese real estate firm named Evergrande will be another Lehman Brothers.

The property downturn in China that is engulfing that company is the result of heavy-handed government intervention to take the heat out the market, one of many heavy-handed government interventions this year by President Xi Jinping.

The contest between America and China that went up a few notches this week is all about differences in their values, specifically freedom versus oppression, free market capitalism versus whatever China is doing (is it capitalism or socialism with Chinese characteristics?)

The gathering property collapse is both a symbol and a consequence of those characteristics.

Although Australia has thrown its lot decisively in with America, joining a Cold War against your biggest customer is definitely not ideal – a courageous move you might say, and it won’t be cheap.

In fact, a lot of hard work will be needed to ensure it is not one of the most expensive decisions ever made by an Australian government.

It’s not about submarines

China arguably started it by overreacting to Australia’s call last year for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, by launching a trade war with products it can get elsewhere, which is to say not iron ore.

Actively deceiving and then dumping France, thereby pi–ing off the whole EU, was a gesture of fealty to the United States, and it is not just about getting nuclear-powered submarines.

After all, the French subs are nuclear-powered and were having diesel engines installed for the Australian contract.

France offered to keep them as nuclear-powered, but was met with silence from Australia because we were secretly negotiating with the US and UK at the time.

There is justifiable scepticism about what practical difference the new submarine deal will make to Australia’s actual defence, especially in the short to medium term, but there’s no doubt the new alliance will have enormous implications for global power structures, and for Australia’s trade and commerce.

Australia’s external trade is going to become very difficult, harder than it already is, which is saying something.

China will actively look for alternatives, including for iron ore and other bulk commodities, and Europe will play hard now as well, and possibly refuse to sign the free trade agreement.

The Trade department, currently headed by Dan Tehan, will become the most important and difficult ministry in the government and will need to be led by quality people. That has so far not been in evidence during this government.

Likewise Industry, Science and Innovation, which has been scandalously neglected by this government, including with the appointment and now resignation of Christian Porter, the eighth minister in the job in eight years.

Trade and domestic industry and technology will both need plenty of high-quality attention in the years ahead if AUKUS is not to become more of an economic burden than a strategic benefit.

There is no sign yet that the government properly understands this, but there is still time.

The AUKUS announcement has raised questions around cost and transparency. Photo: AAP

Cold War 2.0

As for the geopolitical realignment that AUKUS represents, French President Emmanuel Macron’s comment in 2019 that NATO is “brain dead” has been vindicated.

It was a creature of Cold War 1.0 between America and Russia; the 21st century is all about Asia.

The new grouping of Australia, US and UK will no doubt expand to include the other two members of the so-called “Quad” anti-China grouping set up in 2007 – India and Japan – the leaders of which also went to Washington this week along with Australian PM Scott Morrison.

Submarines are a side issue, on the never-never.

AUKUS is about technology and alignment – and the core of Cold War 2.0, like Cold War 1.0, is nuclear weapons and mutually assured destruction (MAD).

America and Russia possessed bombs that would totally destroy each country, so they weren’t used, which was the point of them.

America won the Cold War against Russia not on the military battlefield, but on the battlefield of ideas.

East Germans overran the Berlin Wall because they wanted the freedoms West Germans had, as did Russians.

The contest with China, into which Australia has now leapt on the side of America, will likely end the same way and on that score, China is shooting itself in the foot.

‘Symbols of freedom’

Under Xi Jinping, China is becoming more repressive than Russia and East Germany were before 1989.

It’s not just the crackdown on property speculation, as well as political dissent, technology and after-school private education, but potentially more important will be the new restrictions on video games (no more than three hours per week, kids), the erasing of popular pop stars and actresses like Zhao Wei and Zheng Shuang, and the enforcing of traditional gender roles with a crackdown on LGBTQI that looks homophobic.

Noah Smith, writing in his newsletter Noahpinion, says: “Video games, pop stars, and gay pride can be the blue jeans and rock & roll of Cold War 2 — symbols of Americans’ freedom to be themselves and express themselves without an oppressive government breathing down their necks.”

But American liberty is also being compromised by the culture wars, in which both sides are attempting to force their point of view on the other.

Also America is getting poorer while China gets richer, something that definitely wasn’t happening with Russia in the 1970s and ’80s.

This Cold War is going to be painful and expensive for Australia, and we really need America to win, whatever that entails.

Alan Kohler writes twice a week for The New Daily. He is also editor in chief of Eureka Report and finance presenter on ABC news

The post Alan Kohler: What the nuclear submarines deal is really all about appeared first on The New Daily.

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.

What does the ALP stand for?

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.

This article was first published by The Sydney Morning Herald and is reproduced with permission.

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Apart from Paul Keating and a few others I do not know what the Australian Labor Party (ALP) now stands for on key issues.

We can accept that political leaders must make compromises from time to time. That is understandable with opposition from powerful and wealthy interest groups supported by a shameful and compliant mainstream media. The ALP needs to be tactical.

But we need to know what the ALP stands for. We look for leaders who have conviction as we see in NZ.

Unfortunately values, principles and ideas have given way to “small target” electioneering and the marketing of “political products”.

Paul Keating: Morrison is making an enemy of China and Labor is helping him

We need leaders and political parties to express themselves in a clear set of principles which accord with the best of Australian values like respect for the “other” (refugees),fairness and that the future of Australia will be determined by Australians and not by foreign “allies’ and foreign companies.

On AUKUS we have seen yet again the ALP running for cover on an important issue.

That is why the article by Paul Keating in The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday is so welcome. He is standing up for some very important Australian values and interests.http://paul-keating-morrison-is-making-an-enemy-of-china-and-labor-is-helping-him

Policy details are not critical at this stage of the electoral cycle. But values and principles are.

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O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light? It’s a new dawn for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) as it succumbs to the irrefutable truth it is nothing more than a vassal for American interests, opening a US office.

Surely its constant claims of independence have now been shot like a rocket on the Fourth of July?

With typical ASPI “chutzpah” posted on Twitter: “ASPI is delighted to announce the ASPI Washington DC office.” That is not the case — the opening of the ASPI office was announced by Defence Minister Peter Dutton, whose department effectively owns ASPI.

Says Dutton, “to mark the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty, I am pleased to announce that the government has decided to fund the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) to establish an office in Washington DC.

“To support the foundation of the office the government has provided a grant to ASPI of $5 million, which is to fund the initial two years of operations.” That tidy sum is on top of the $11.1 million ASPI collected from Australian taxpayers last year.

ASPI was established by the Howard government in 2001, to contest policy ideas within the defence establishment, nowhere in the charter was it mentioned that ASPI would build significant commercial ties with foreign interests, let alone open a branch office in the capital of another nation.

‘Distinctive Australian voice’ with an American accent

According to Dutton, “the key aim of the ASPI Washington DC Office will be to provide a distinctive Australian voice in the US strategic policy debate… It remains an essential part of the ASPI business model that the organisation is independent in its research, judgements and public engagement.”

Where in ASPI’s charter is the mandate to shape and contribute to the military policies of another nation? It beggars belief that ASPI could be perceived as independent when its second biggest financial benefactor is the US government.

Where in history has the United States ever funded a foreign organisation to challenge US foreign and military policy?

Under the Trump administration, US government payments to ASPI skyrocketed by 367 per cent. The think tank has yet to release its 2020-21 financial statements but it’s hard to believe the US government’s largesse would not have kept apace with the $1.37 million cash doled out in the previous reported period.

The Foreign Transparency Register reveals ASPI inked its latest deal with the US State Department just six weeks ago.

Dutton has now drawn ASPI even closer to a nation that’s rapidly escalating a Cold War against our biggest trading partner — a nation whose leader’s best effort to identify our head of government is “that fellow down under”.

Welcome home… to Washington

Australia’s ambassador to the United States former Liberal Party cabinet minister Arthur Sinodinos proclaimed on Twitter: “Welcome to Washington, ASPI will provide a distinctive, rigorous voice to the policy debate in DC, adding to its already first rate reputation here in policy circles.” Hmm… hmm… independence?

As a commercial entity ASPI is not in any way independent, it is a wholly Australian government-owned commonwealth company. How the Washington branch office will be constituted is a question that neither Dutton nor ASPI has answered.

If its purpose is to influence US government policy, and it incorporates the new office as a US business entity, will it be required to disclose deals struck in America under Australia’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme?

To lobby or not to lobby?

The influence peddling landscape in Washington is a legal minefield. Does the minister seriously contend that ASPI’s Washington operation will be “independent” after announcing this wholly Australian taxpayer funded venture is tasked with informing US policy discussions on Australian perspectives?

The US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) mandates registration for “certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities”. Will ASPI’s Washington operation be immune from FARA registration?

The Washington-based Center for American Progress reported it’s common practise for foreign government-funded entities to circumvent disclosure laws, saying, “concerns from Congress and the US Department of Justice have emerged over existing laws that have allowed foreign governments to hide behind a lobbying disclosure loophole granting them discrete channels of influence in US politics.”

According to legal website Lexology, under US federal law just one contact every three months with a government official, office bearer or elected representative constitutes lobbying. Given the Canberra HQ of ASPI runs on average 100 (publicly disclosed) events every year, it’s hard to believe they are going to avoid contact with Washington policy makers in any three-month period.

Those fellows down under

It is no accident that the Australian government’s decision to fund ASPI’s Washington operation came just 24 hours after the announcement of the AUKUS alliance. An alliance billed as an “enhanced trilateral security partnership” without an actual treaty nor public or parliamentary consultation.

From the Australian perspective, as it currently exists, AUKUS is literally nothing more than five paragraphs at the top of a Scott Morrison media release.

The only concrete part of this announcement was a slap in the face to France as nobody bothered to inform the US and Britain’s key NATO ally that Morrison was about to tear up a $90 billion French submarine deal.

Just three months ago a smug Morrison stood shoulder-to-shoulder with President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace declaring “affinity is the word we use to describe our partnership.” With France’s ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault now recalled,“merde” is how the French would regard Morrison’s commitment that that partnership.

Apart from free pre-election mainstream media publicity, AUKUS has delivered just one thing, an Australian taxpayer funded ASPI office in Washington. The Morrison government’s commitment to spin and propaganda is unwavering.

This article was first published by APAC News and is reproduced with permission.

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Penny Wong says prime minister is in ‘damage control’ after failing to do ‘diplomatic legwork’ before Aukus announcement

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Labor has fired a warning shot at the Morrison government over its nuclear-powered submarine plans, demanding assurances that Australia will maintain its freedom to make different decisions from the US on military engagements.

Senior opposition frontbencher Penny Wong will pose the question in a speech on Thursday, saying maintaining autonomy is important for Australia’s sovereignty as the country becomes more technologically dependent on the US.

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State authorities do not know how many doses they can expect to receive, as federal officials use inventory from UK deal to avert supply interruptions

Follow our Covid live blog for the latest updatesVaccine rollout and rates tracker; Cases and data tracker5km and 10km from home map: check your travel radiusGet our free news app; get our morning email briefing

Australia faces a possible Pfizer supply disruption next month, with states still in the dark about how many doses they will receive a week.

Federal authorities have been forced to use some of the 4m doses from a deal with the UK to smooth the possible supply interruption in early October.

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Former Coalition frontbencher says it would be madness to rule out a conversation when there could be opportunities for regional Australia

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The former federal frontbencher Darren Chester has declared the National party needs to have a “credible policy” on emissions reduction and sustainability which includes an aspirational target of net zero by 2050.

Chester’s intervention, which follows public positioning by metropolitan Liberals this week, comes ahead of a speech the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, will make to business leaders on Friday highlighting changing dynamics in global capital markets and problems associated with carbon risk.

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Predictions of debt, deficit and tax revenue out to 2060 rather nicely avoid the major issue that will confront the economy – climate change

The latest long-term report from the Parliamentary Budget Office provides the good news that the budget looks fine and debt levels even in the worst-case scenario are manageable. The bad news is that, as with all our long-term economic forecasts, there is little attention paid to climate change rendering much of these forecasts irrelevant.

The PBO’s latest “Beyond the budget” report charts where the Australian government’s finances are headed over the next 40 years.

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