The Australian prime minister and US president also discussed repairing ties with Europe in their first one-on-one meeting

Scott Morrison insists Australia and the US are on the same page on climate policy after his first one-on-one meeting with Joe Biden, as the US president presses “every nation” to cut emissions faster.

The Australian prime minister and Biden also spoke about repairing ties with Europe, after their new submarine deal – also involving the UK – infuriated France and put a cloud over EU free trade agreement negotiations.

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The PM’s botched diplomacy has reverberated across the Atlantic, undermining western solidarity on the challenge of China’s rise

US has ‘no closer ally than Australia’, Biden says after Aukus pactDan Tehan says EU free-trade negotiations are ‘business as usual’

Scott Morrison’s determination to put political spin over national security substance in welcoming a new era of nuclear submarines (now to be brought to you exclusively from the Anglosphere) has undermined one of our most enduring and important global relationships – namely the French Republic.

While the prime minister’s office would have been delighted with the television images from Washington and London to show the “fella from down under” mixing it with the big guys and being hairy chested about China, no one there seems to have given a passing thought to the cost to Australian interests that will come from Morrison’s cavalier treatment of France.

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As footage of police cars being rammed, dogs being kicked, cars with children in them being trampled and journalists being attacked, infiltrated our screens yesterday, it’s safe to say that few of us felt comfortable about the current state of the nation.

Flocking to the streets of Melbourne’s CBD and banging down the doors of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy union (CFMEU) headquarters, a mix of far-right thugs, neo-nazis, unionists and construction workers gladly used force to convey their regressive perception of “freedom fighting”, protesting a two-week ban on the construction industry enforced by the Victorian government earlier in the week.

The shutdown was in response to widespread reluctance in the industry over vaccination mandates and fierce opposition to lockdowns, with Premier Daniel Andrews announcing on September 16, that by September 28, all workers must provide evidence of:

having had at least one dose of the vaccinationproof of vaccine appointment to receive a first dose by October 2or a medical exemption from an authorised medical practitioner.

Of course, with any rule mandated by the state there are always going to be fierce opponents. The CFMEU itself does not support the mandate of the vaccine for its workers, despite strongly urging those within the industry to get jabbed.

Protests are acceptable, but it’s the nature of these particular protests and the men at the core of them which are the problem.

The violence and brutality witnessed in Melbourne yesterday was reminiscent of the Cronulla Riots. Thousands of enraged, frenzied men gathering in packs, egging each other on. Each presentation of extreme force more jubilant than the last.

As a journalist, watching footage of colleagues in media being rounded up, choked and spat on left me with a feeling of deep, sickening fear. Police, trying to do their jobs and protect innocent bystanders were also threatened and attacked. Toxic masculinity on full display.

Paul Dowsley, Ch 7 journo, just said he was grabbed around the neck and caught in a scuffle. He and his cameraman have had urine thrown on him and thrown in his mouth. Totally unacceptable. #melbourneprotests

— Kirstin Ferguson (@kirstinferguson) September 21, 2021

There is no excuse.

Yes, Australians are reaching the end of their tether. The past two years have been incredibly taxing with countless sectors gravely hit. We are all over COVID.

But do we see aged care workers swarming the streets en masse, kicking down doors and terrifying their community?

Do we see early childhood educators? Do we see those in the beauty sector? In retail? In nursing? All industries dominated by women. All industries hardest hit by the fallout from the pandemic.


You know where those individuals are? They’re working tirelessly on the frontline to get us through this gruelling period. They’re trying to build back their businesses with minimal support. They’re caring for their families, their neighbours, their friends. They’re seeking collaborative solutions not a mob mentality. They’re saving lives.

Certainly, not all of them are content with the government’s navigation of the pandemic. There would be thousands of women in these industries equally concerned or opposed to a mandated vaccination. But they’re finding a way to protest without harming or inflicting fear on others in their midst.

With more than 95,000 members, The Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, called on protesters yesterday to “stop thinking only of themselves” and prioritise the health of the community.

“Nurses, midwives and carers are exhausted and frustrated as they watch protesters fight for their right to overwhelm our health system,” state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.

“Do not leave all the heavy lifting to nurses, midwives and personal care workers.”

Do not leave all the heavy lifting to women, period.

The post Violent Melbourne protests are a brutal reminder of how bad toxic masculinity in this country really is appeared first on Women’s Agenda.

Insights can sometimes come from the most surprising sources. For example, a Barnaby Joyce press conference.

Scott Morrison was barely airborne on Monday when the Acting Prime Minister fronted the media, ostensibly to spruik the Nationals’ Inland Rail boondoggle, a topic about which he did not receive a single question.

But among the obvious concentration on matters Porter and submarine, when asked about the threat posed by China, Joyce volunteered: “And on top of that, you’ve got the actions of Russia. And on top of that, you’ve got the actions of Iran.”

That was after reminding everyone: “The reason we have a National Security Committee is because it’s secret. Otherwise, it would be called the Parliament. As deputy chair of the National Security Committee, we have to make deliberations in absolute secrecy on behalf of our nation.”

So Iran, a country with which we were enjoying warming relations until Donald Trump poisoned them, is up there with China and Russia as a threat to Australia in the opinion of the National Security Committee.

Barnaby Joyce reminded the media the ‘‘reason we have a National Security Committee is because it’s secret’’. Photo: AAP

The possible insight is that such a perception betrays the entirely American-centric nature of our security and defence outlook.

It underlines our client state status that Iran-Saudi and Iran-Israel tensions were a consideration in signing open cheques for nuclear-powered submarines.

After our participation in the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles, the Morrison government apparently maintains an interest in Australian military involvement in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s first appointment upon arriving in New York was reportedly a private dinner with Rupert Murdoch’s right-hand man, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, along with our New York consul and ambassador to Washington.

Priorities. After all, it is very important to Mr Morrison how his submarine deal plays.

“ALLIANCE FOR THE AGES” splashed The Australian as Murdoch writers shovelled on the superlatives.

Australia’s most significant strategic decision in 60 years, opined Paul Kelly, along with: “It is Scott Morrison’s initiative – in its nuclear submarine component, its technological sweep and its diplomatic achievement.”

As has now become very clear since Thursday’s ‘that fella’ announcement, the diplomatic achievement includes annoying much of Asia and Europe, especially our friends or former friends in France.

And it remains hard for me to believe that this was all Scott Morrison’s work, that the proposal wasn’t initiated and pushed by someone wanting to sell armaments, someone as much in need of a triumphal announcement as Mr Morrison.

Remember the UK-Australia free trade deal – our Tim Tams for their Penguins, their Marmite for our Vegemite?

As the mess of Brexit becomes ever more obvious, Boris Johnson has become so desperate for announcements that even reverting to imperial weights and measures has become a possibility.

Aside from British backpackers having an easier time in Australia, there was little in the trade deal for the UK.

Australia isn’t much of a market for Britain’s main exports – with one exception, one that isn’t a subject of free trade agreements.

According to the UK Department for International Trade, the UK is the world’s second-biggest exporter of defence equipment behind the US and ahead of Russia and France.

The latest DIT figures show weapons of destruction brought in $21 billion for the UK in 2019 after $26 billion in 2018 – about the value of Australia’s beef, wheat and wool exports combined.

As Barnaby knows, the Australian government never misses a chance to push its key agricultural exports. Ditto the UK government and the armaments trade.

From the Royal Family down through Prime Ministers and, on occasion, their families, the Brits are enthusiastic arms dealers.

The defence industry and British prime ministers tend to be as close as the Australian coal industry and the National Party.

A British company, BAE, is Australia’s biggest defence supplier and, as suggested here on Monday, the lack of permitted markets for BAE’s nuclear submarine technology is a major constraint on sales. My tweets about such a situation were only partly facetious.

So was Australia buying nuclear-powered submarine’s all Scott Morrison’s initiative – or Boris Johnson’s?

We’ll never know because the “reason we have a National Security Committee is because it’s secret”.

But it’s not a secret any more that we view Iran as a threat. Beware those Persian rugs.

The post Michael Pascoe: And now Iran is threatening us, claims Acting PM appeared first on The New Daily.

Australia’s decision to join with the United States and the United Kingdom to build Australian long-range nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) has little to do with the defence of Australia.

The aim is to make possible an Australian contribution to US battle plans against China which that country will view as profoundly threatening with implications also for war planning by Russia, North Korea and other nuclear-armed states.

Even leaving aside the fiscal profligacy and defence opportunity costs for Australia of the literal blank cheque issued by the Morrison government, the nuclear submarine decision takes Australia into the heart of naval warfighting in East Asia and Southeast Asia.

Further, the Australian nuclear submarine decision will have knock-on effects in Japan and the Republic of Korea, leading them not only to move their already highly capable submarine fleets to nuclear power, but also thereby heighten the likelihood they will then equip those submarines with nuclear weapons.

For several decades the US has been concerned to negate two military advances the Chinese regard as essential protection against literally existential threats. The Australian submarines will be designed primarily to contribute to negating both of those military advances.

Firstly, over the past decade China has constructed the basis for a submarine-based nuclear deterrence force that could survive the effects of an expected US attack against Chinese land-based nuclear missile sites. If Chinese nuclear missile-launching submarines can safely get out of their homeports and reach the depths of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea they may have a small chance of remaining undetected by highly superior US anti-submarine warfare platforms — including US and now possible Australian hunter-killer submarines.

If those Chinese nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are found and destroyed, especially after US attacks on Chinese ground-launched missile silos, and US and Japanese ballistic missile defence destroying most of the missiles that are launched by China, then, in the Chinese view, China in fact has no survivable nuclear-deterrence force. Whatever the validity deterrence by a balance of vulnerability — or of terror — may have, without a survivable second strike, China has no effective nuclear deterrence against the United States.

China’s four operational nuclear missile submarines are mainly based in the north of the South China Sea on the island of Hainan. China’s militarisation of its concrete islands in the South China Sea is in large part motivated by a desire to provide extended defence in depth for those SSBNs.

The fundamental requirement for that capability — apart from questions of missile range, crew training and naval submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and nuclear submarine doctrinal development — is that the submarines are able to reach the deeps of the western Pacific undetected by US and Japanese anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sensor networks. Only there do they have any chance of fulfilling their intended role as a second strike nuclear deterrent force immune to US attack. One key part of US ASW capabilities, in addition to the Fish Hook underwater surveillance network from Japan to the boundary of the South China Sea, are its attack submarines hunting Chinese ballistic missile submarines. Australia’s submarines could play a modest but frontline role, especially in the waters to the west of Borneo, the Philippines and Japan.

For this reason alone, China will view Australia’s decision as a wilful contribution to an existential nuclear threat to China.

The same strategic logic applies to the Russian strategic missile submarines operating from Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Russia has recently rebuilt this force with the latest Borei class submarines operating in the “strategic bastion” of the Sea of Okhotsk and beyond into the Pacific and Arctic oceans. US nuclear attack submarines track these submarines, guided by the US-Japanese-Korean network of underwater acoustic sensors and with surface and aerial anti-submarine forces.

Secondly, Australian long-range attack submarines likely will be deployed in South-East and East Asian waters to protect US aircraft carrier task forces moving into position close to China for attacks on Chinese coastal facilities, as well as against Russian or North Korean land-based forces. US and coalition SSNs will hunt and try to destroy Chinese submarines lying in wait for the US carriers; or stand as one of the point guards that move in advance of US aircraft carrier battlegroups as they move around.

China has devoted a great deal of money and energy to developing the naval, air and missile capabilities to deny US carrier battle groups the access they had in the past to Chinese waters and its immediate coastal zone inside the island chain from Japan to the Philippines.

US carrier battle groups aided by Australian submarines do not in themselves constitute an existential threat to China, but they do open a vulnerability that the US would certainly not accept for itself.

Moreover, given the acknowledged risks of escalation to use of nuclear weapons in what may begin as a conventional war on the Korean peninsula, especially together with a Taiwan crisis, Australian submarines attached to US carrier battle groups may be sailing into a nuclear war.

Australian nuclear submarines may not be allocated offensive missions against Chinese, Russian or eventually North Korean ballistic missile firing submarines. But the roles that they likely will be allocated in American naval operations in the western Pacific, especially in aircraft battlegroups deployed against Russia, China, or North Korea, will enable US anti-submarine operations against the nuclear forces of these states.

Other lone-wolf long-distance missions for Australian nuclear submarines can be envisioned such as inserting special forces onto land, blockading straits, but none of these can justify the crushing direct cost and massive opportunity cost to the rest of Australia’s armed forces already short of essential capacity to defend Australia’s territory against actual maritime attack.

The AUKUS project for Australian nuclear submarines carries a third nuclear risk. Much has been written about the implications of damage to French amour propre, not to say export income, but the US decision to allow Australia highly preferential access to sensitive submarine technologies only allowed out of the US once before when the US gave such access to Britain in the 1950s.

For Japan and the Republic of Korea, both US allies of considerably greater military and political significance to the US than Australia, the nuclear submarine technology export to Australia will have two consequences.

Japan and South Korea both have advanced indigenously developed and constructed submarine fleets, for which they will demand equal treatment from the US, further stimulating the dynamic underwater arms race in East Asia.

But more importantly this break-out will occur at a time when powerful political elements in both countries are pressing the case for indigenous nuclear weapons. The preferred nuclear-launch platform in both countries would be from submarines.

Anxiety in both countries about China-US tensions sits alongside not-so-latent long-standing doubts about the reliability of US promises of nuclear protection. Grievances flowing from the Australian submarine deal may well feed the domestic cases for Japanese and South Korean nuclear weapons.

The timing of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcements also merits some consideration. In our view, this project is a political stunt aimed to distract from Covid failures, please coalition constituencies, and split the Labor Party and render the Greens shrill and sidelined. In reality, it is likely that after a passage of years of staged announcements and pseudo-planning there will be little to show for it, and the enormously expensive, strategically ill-considered, and force-structure distorting project will quietly die.

But, to use Morrison’s phrase, “let us be clear”, in terms of Australian security, it is a gigantic nuclear election stunt that in the long run may increase the risk of nuclear war while drawing Chinese return fire on our vulnerable export sectors, including iron ore.

“To be clear” again, it is utterly mendacious of Morrison to say that these forces have nothing to do with nuclear weapons because Australian submarines won’t be so armed, assuming it does not cross that barrier in the future if the submarines ever come to pass. As noted above, they may play a crucial role in US nuclear strike and defence operations.

This capability has everything to do with nuclear weapons and the risk of nuclear war. The net detrimental effects on strategic instability caused by supplementing US forces devoted to strategic nuclear missions in the region may be substantial, especially in the perceptions of American nuclear adversaries who may well target Australia already, and must be properly analysed and debated before any decisions are made to proceed.

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The Coalition preaches that small government is best. But the reality is that government is not actually smaller under the Coalition — and what voters really want and need is good government.

The Coalition mantra is that business is always more efficient than the public sector. According to the Coalition it then follows that small government must be better than big government.

t the Coalition also knows that what the voters want is not so much small government, as good government. And for the voters, good government is defined as maintaining their access to essential services and economic and jobs growth.

The following examination of the Coalition’s record finds, however, that there is a tension between the pursuit of smaller government and the good government that the voters want.

Penny-pinching is not small government

The reality is that government is not smaller under the Coalition. Instead, even pre-Covid, the size of government under Morrison was bigger than it has ever been.

Thus, in 2018-19 total Australian government budget payments were 24.5 per cent of GDP. That is more than in the last year (2012-13) of the previous Labor government when those payments were only 23.9 per cent of GDP, and also more than in the last year of the Howard government (2006-07) when this proportion was only 23.3 per cent.

This evident failure of the Coalition to deliver on its core philosophy inevitably raises the question of why is government not smaller? The answer is that it is impossible to achieve smaller government without making big cuts to major programs.

However, the Coalition knows that people want and need the present government services. Furthermore, there is every reason to think that the demand for government services has a high income-elasticity— as people get richer their demand for government services, such as health, education and better roads, increases more than proportionately.

That is why one of the Coalition’s core promise is that it will maintain what it calls “essential services” and it is therefore unwilling to make the big policy decisions that would be needed to reduce budget outlays.

Instead, the Morrison government in its quest for smaller government has adopted a penny-pinching approach to providing public services. The consequence is that unfortunately many of these services that we rely on are now seriously underfunded, as the following examples show.

In response to the royal commission, the government did announce additional funding for aged care, but in typically penny-pinching style, that amount was significantly less than all the experts insist is needed if the recommendations of the royal commission are to be properly implemented. Much the same is true for childcare, where the additional funding of $1.7 billion over three years, announced in the last budget, is insufficient to ensure that all those mothers who would like to work more have the incentive to do so. Instead, an alternative proposal, supported by the Business Council of Australia and many others, is estimated to cost an extra $2.5 billion, but offset by a $5.4 billion boost to annual gross domestic product (GDP) from additional workforce participation. While a more generous proposal by the Grattan Institute would have a $5 billion cost, offset by an annual $11 billion boost to GDP. Disability services are clearly under-funded and that is why we have a royal commission that is likely to recommend additional funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). In the case of universities, in the budget the government recognised the need to provide more student places to support future economic growth, but research reported in The Conversation “showed that the total amount isn’t enough to provide subsidies for extra student places, let alone the extra 30,000 this year announced by the treasurer”. The conclusion from this research is that the government “would need to provide about $1.1 billion more in subsidy from 2021 to 2024 to honour the claims that it made to the public and the parliament”. Although the funding for vocational education and training (VET) was restored in the last May budget, it is another example of too little too late. Over the four years from 2015 to 2019, the number of government-funded qualifications completed by new apprentices and trainees fell from 284,000 to 209,000, and this new additional support does not make up for past shortfalls. Housing affordability is worsening dramatically, but the government has done almost nothing to address this problem. The modest extra assistance to first home buyers with a 5 per cent deposit, will further add to the extreme pressure on house prices. We need to increase the supply of social housing and increase rent assistance, but despite large Commonwealth funding of social housing in the past, the government now says this is a state responsibility, while doing nothing about rent assistance. In April the government increased the JobSeeker payment by a miserable $4 a day — less than the price of a cup of coffee. JobSeeker is still only 65 per cent of the age pension rate and is clearly inadequate. As the government reminds us, the international security situation has become much more volatile and uncertain. In these circumstances we should be increasing foreign aid to help build strong regional alliances, but foreigners don’t vote, and aid is therefore a soft target for savings. Accordingly, between 2011 and 2020 spending by the Australian government on foreign aid fell by 31 per cent in real terms, while overall global spending on foreign aid increased by 26 per cent in the same period. The funding of government administration has been kept on a tight rein, with arbitrary “efficiency dividends” being imposed to reduce costs. Departmental expenses fell from 8.75 per cent of total government outlays in 2007-08 to 6.25 per cent in 2019-20, and public service performance seems to have suffered as a result. In addition, the Morrison government has been prepared to pass some of its responsibilities to the states as an obvious way of saving its own budget. Quarantine is the most obvious recent example. But the leakage of the coronavirus from the often inadequate quarantine arrangements administered by the states has proved to be false economy, with the consequent lockdowns costing the nation a fortune. Similarly, the Morrison government has passed to the states the responsibility for recompensing businesses and their employees who have lost income during the lockdowns. This may save the Commonwealth money, but now many recipients are still waiting for this assistance weeks later, whereas last year under the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper program they were recompensed almost immediately through the Australian Taxation Office, which was clearly much better able to deliver this assistance.

Staffing and small government

Given the evident failure of the Coalition government to achieve their objective of smaller government, as measured by the size of budget outlays, and despite under-funding many services, perhaps it is not surprising that the Coalition has sought to shift the debate to concentrate on the number of public servants employed.

Although why these staff numbers should matter to most people remains a mystery. What matters to most people is what something costs, not how many people are employed in producing the service.

Nevertheless, in its pursuit of small government, the Coalition has reintroduced staff ceilings that were previously abolished by the Hawke government and replaced by cash controls of total administrative expenditures. This “running cost” system allowed managers the freedom to choose the most efficient means of administering their departments within their budget ceiling.

Now, although the new system of staff ceilings is likely to lead to less efficient administration, it has achieved the government’s immediate objective of smaller public service staff numbers. These have fallen from a peak of 182,505 in 2011-12 to a low of 165,276 in 2017-18.

But offsetting this fall in permanent public service staff numbers, managers now make extensive use of contract labour hire and consultants to get around their staff ceilings, even though it costs more.

Thus, a parliamentary enquiry was told that labour hire companies supplying workers to understaffed federal agencies are receiving the equivalent of 20 per cent of the spending on public service wages. To give one such specific example, between 2013 and 2020, the number of permanent public servants employed by Services Australia fell by over 6,000, but in September 2020, Services Australia was engaging 12,184 outsourced non-public service workers.

Similarly, the total value of all consultancy contracts awarded in 2020-21 has increased massively to $539.2 million, compared to only $12.4 million in 2005-06. Furthermore, consultants’ advice is often influenced by their desire for another contract, rather than representing the frank and fearless professional advice that permanent public servants should supply.


The Morrison government’s penny-pinching approach to the financing of government services has not resulted in smaller government. As a share of GDP outlays are bigger than ever, but services are under-funded and consequently under-provided.

Public service staff numbers may have fallen, but these government workers have been replaced by contract and consultancy staff, and there has been a loss of public service capability.

In sum, the Coalition has not achieved smaller government. While, instead of good government the quality of service provision and government has clearly deteriorated.

Equally, this pathetic attempt to restrict the funding of essential government services has not led to stronger economic growth. In fact, compared to other similar developed economies, Australia is lagging well behind.

In the four years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (2015 to 2019), Australia’s GDP per capita only increased at an annual average rate of 0.4 per cent, much less than the average of 1.6 per cent recorded by the other member countries of the OECD. In addition, this recent poor performance represents a major fall compared to the previous decade from 20o5 to 2014 when Australia’s GDP per capita increased at an annual average rate of 1.1 per cent.

Clearly jobs and growth have not been assisted by the Coalition’s quest for small government. Other developed economies manage to combine a better track record for economic growth with larger public sectors than Australia.

So if we want good government we need to spend more. A rough guess is that if instead of penny-pinching, the government were to deliver on its promise to adequately fund all essential services, then over the next two decades, the average annual rate of increase in total government payments in real terms would be at least half a percentage point higher than the Treasury is presently projecting.

That could then mean that by 2040-41, the size of government, as measured by the ratio of government payments to GDP, would be about 29.5 per cent of GDP, compared with the pre-pandemic ratio of 24.5 per cent of GDP in 2018-19. While this five percentage point increase is a significant increase, it is likely to be what will be necessary to meet the public demands, and it will still leave Australia with total government outlays (Commonwealth, state and local) that are no bigger as a share of GDP than the present OECD average today.

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On Monday, former immigration minister Amanda Vanstone was wringing her hands on ABC TV. Not on behalf of the persecuted Biloela family, though. She was crying crocodile tears to defend a powerful, inflexible government.

As if Vanstone’s scornful judgement about the stupidity of making exceptions to the rule in immigration matters was insufficient, viewers of Australian Story — focussed on the Tamil family seeking asylum in Australia — were also treated to clips of the prime minister’s previous statements insisting that if you come to Australia by boat, you will never be allowed to stay.

The Old Testament virtue of being cruel to be kind infects the man’s thoughts and actions.

The process by which cruelty has become a centre piece of policy may be denied but the very denial guarantees its continuation. Even in a democracy, men and women whose positions depend on a top down exercise of power, seem blind to the privilege of delivering judgements about people’s lives. It is as though they have a wisdom that mere mortals should not question.

I return to Vanstone, even though she is no longer part of a government and in certain media circles is even regarded as slightly liberal. Her good fortune is a chapter in Australian Story.

To camouflage the cruelty towards the Biloela family, or to question the motives of those who ask that in any policy there have to be exceptions to the rule,

Vanstone has a radio program and until recently was a regular columnist for a major newspaper. Such means of influence guarantee a persistent flow of top down views about the merits of Australian mateship plus judgements about worthy and unworthy people: usually those who abide by the rules and those who allegedly do not.

What Scott Morrison’s really saying by aligning with Pentecostals

On a crucial humanitarian issue, the utterances of such a broadcaster or columnist can paper over the fault lines in cruel policies and downplay the terrible costs to individuals. These fault lines and those costs are part of an unfolding history, underway for the past shameful decade, but actually operating for centuries.

The Biloela family happen to be the extras caught up in a policy to show strength towards powerless people, which is also called not losing face. Two traumatised children and persecuted parents are the unwitting victims of a shameless inhumanity cooked up by a so called humane, human rights respecting country.

In any culture or country, diagnosis of cruelty as policy always produces pictures of two phenomena: the fascination by people with authority to select and stigmatise the unworthy, and to exercise power in an abusive top down manner towards them.

Australian Story was not only about politicians. In the top-down investment in authoritarianism, numerous others oiled the state system and made it work.

Given uniforms, fast cars, even an aeroplane, other Australian citizens have been employed in a tragedy. Asked to arrest a family in the middle of the night, drive to a detention centre, fly to Christmas Island, deliver the judgment of a High Court — more judgements from on high — there was apparently no obvious difficulty for these extras to do the arresting, the detaining, the driving away.

Where all these players simply automaton cogs in policy wheels which churn out the message, “we must be strong, we will not allow these people to stay”?

Did any of these employees feel shame? Did any consider their acts part of a monstrous cruelty? Did any resolve, “I will not be part of this”?

That these feelings and words may have been expressed is unlikely. The past is the present. Massive cruelties towards those deemed unworthy have characterised a history of discrimination, conquest and detention which persists in today’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. Momentum from the past still seems too difficult to hinder let alone stop.

Australian Story was about years of cruelty towards a deserving family who should be able to live permanently with their admirable, humanitarian friends and supporters in Queensland’s Biloela.

But this Australian Story was also about a government preoccupied with a top down, abusive exercise of power, unable to consider any life enhancing alternative.

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Ex-Olympic shooter and coalminer Daniel Repacholi deleted his account and apologised for previous online posts when preselected for the federal NSW seat

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Labor candidate Daniel Repacholi deleted his Instagram account that followed a range of accounts that included naked women posing with assault rifles and near-naked women in sexually provocative poses after he was selected by the party to run for the federal seat of Hunter, in New South Wales.

The former Olympic shooter and coalminer, described by outgoing Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon as a “normal larrikin Australian”, has already been forced to apologise for some of his social media activity, including describing India as a “shit hole” on his return from the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

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‘Avoided deforestation’ projects do not represent genuine abatement, say researchers who liken the Coalition policy to ‘cheap tricks and hot air’

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About 20% of carbon credits created under the federal Coalition’s main climate change policy do not represent real cuts in carbon dioxide and are essentially “junk”, new research suggests.

The report by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Australia Institute found “avoided deforestation” projects do not represent genuine abatement as in most cases the areas were never going to be cleared.

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The ex-deputy PM tells Guardian Australia the next phase of climate policy must not ‘smash our regional economies’

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The former federal Nationals leader Michael McCormack says his party has to consider signing up to a commitment to net zero emissions because a flat “no” could threaten Australia’s trade relationships and export income.

McCormack’s public overture ahead of Cop26 in Glasgow comes as the New South Wales minister for energy and the environment, Matt Kean, will also tell an event organised by the British high commission on Wednesday that Scott Morrison has pulled off a “stunning coup” in negotiating a nuclear submarine deal with the US and the UK, but now needs to take the next step.

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After mishandling its cancellation of the French submarines contract, the Morrison government is making things worse by suggesting the French really must have, or should have, known what was coming.

As Labor keeps saying on the domestic front, Scott Morrison doesn’t like admitting mistakes.

Instead of accepting the government blundered diplomatically by not giving France proper notice Australia would ditch the $90 billion contract, Morrison has doubled down.

Arriving in the United States, he said: “I had made it very clear that a conventional submarine would no longer be meeting our strategic interests and what we needed those boats to do.

“That had been communicated very clearly many months ago. We were working through those issues.”

This amounts to saying one of two things. That the French fury (as distinct from the “disappointment” Morrison and ministers endlessly repeat from the government’s talking points) is simply confected. Or that the French are plain stupid.

It smacks of trying to find a way to avoid saying Australia stuffed up the diplomacy.

Morrison also said “it was not possible for us to be able to discuss such secure issues in relation to our dealings with other countries at that time”.

Does this really hold up, especially given the closeness of the United States-France relationship?

It is one thing to say the earlier stages of the negotiation of AUKUS had to be secret – it is another matter humiliating the French by implying they are so untrustworthy they had to be kept in the dark until the last minute.

By its cack-handed diplomacy, or lack of diplomacy, the Australian government set off waves that have created problems with spillover effects for its AUKUS partners, especially the US, with whom the French would have been unhappy anyway.

Faced with France’s anger with America, President Joe Biden quickly sought a call with President Emmanuel Macron to attempt to smooths things.

Asked in his New York whether he would be talking with Macron before he met European leaders and Biden, Morrison said there was “not an opportunity for that at this time”. He was “sure that opportunity will come in time”.

“But right now, I understand the disappointment, and they’re working through the consultations with their ambassador who’s returned to Paris and we will be patient about that,” Morrison.

He went on: “We will engage with European leaders, importantly, we’ll continue to engage with ASEAN leaders.”

Morrison spoke to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo on his way to the US. “I was able to reassure him, particularly about the issues on non-proliferation.” The Indonesians had raised concerns about AUKUS. The Malaysians will require some work too.

To deal with the diplomatic fallout, the most logical course would be for Morrison to concede the lack of proper notice and consultation, in a direct conversation with Macron.

We don’t know whether the PM has made an attempt to call Macron in the wake of the blow up (his office did not answer when asked). Nor do we know whether Macron would be too busy “washing his hair” to take a Morrison call. On Tuesday (Australian time) the White House said it was “still working on the scheduling” of the Biden call.

For Morrison, a frank leader-to-leader discussion, with an admission things should have been handled better, would be the mature approach, and might limit the damage to Australian interests, including to the trade negotiations with Europe. But the PM is not keen on eating even the smallest slice of humble pie.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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