The decision to enter into a wide military alliance with the US may become a catastrophe for Australia, both from economic and reputational standpoints, Tony Kevin, an Australian policy expert, told Russian news outlet TASS.
Published: September 24, 2021, 12:44 pm
Melbourne is known as the heart of organised labour and the stronghold of Australian unionism.
Anti-Covid protesters have marked a turning point in Australian political history: the end of the Labor Party as internal polling shows voters turning against Premier Daniel Andrews. The government could be losing support in working-class seats in northern and western Melbourne.
Protests in Melbourne and other major Australian cities continued on Thursday but the Australian government, in a desperate attempt to limit information about a union uprising, shut down internet service providers and declared central Melbourne a media no-fly zone.
The state-enforced blackout lasted throughout the entire day.
Media Blackout “ordered” for the next 3 days #Australia #MediaBlackout #TradiesProtest #Victoria #Melbourne #melbourneprotests #IStandWithAustralia pic.twitter.com/bCwjv3bDMF — Bekind Always question everything (@BekindAlways15) September 23, 2021
But six lockdowns over two years has eroded the government’s support and created a sense of hopelessness in Victoria. A Herald Sun poll predicted that Melbourne would pass Buenos Aires’ 234-day pandemic lockdown on October 4, setting a world record. And then a record-breaking earthquake hit Victoria on Wednesday — and more aftershocks are expected to come.
“They said: ‘What’s next? A plague of locusts?’ People are thinking it’s actually the end of the world.”
It’ll Never End!#ProudNeverSleever [t.co] — OctoberReignz (@0ctoberReignz) September 21, 2021
The images of extreme police violence have dominated the news from Melbourne, creating an alternative perspective to Andrews’ droning daily press conferences. Andrews will not end the lockdowns once 70 to 80 per cent of adults are vaccinated, adding more uncertainty to the lives of 6,7 million Victorians.
And it is bound to get worse because China has no international workers movement. The dissent over an economic downturn will thus be home-grown, and not easily blamed on China.
“[Prime Minister of Australia] Scott Morrison has announced his most disastrous decision to date […] which will cost hard-pressed Australian taxpayers literally billions of dollars urgently needed for climate change responses, infrastructure renewal, health and education, and support of industries hit by the pandemic and by expanding Chinese trade sanctions. This announcement spends and pledges huge sums of taxpayers’ money as if there is no tomorrow,” Kevin underscored.
The AUKUS deal will cause both severe consequences on an economy which relies on export to China and a massive blow to Australian reputation, the expert pointed out.
“The French are furious. Cancellation fees will be at least $500 million. […] An angry France will make Australia pay in other ways e.g. in sanctions on trade with the EU,” he said, adding that Australia has already invested about $2 billion in the now-defunct French submarine project.
However, Kevin believes that relations with France will not be the only victim of Australia’s accession to AUKUS.
“It locks Australia in even more deeply with its senior Five Eyes strategic allies US and UK against notional adversaries China and Russia. It will encourage the existing bitter Australian-Chinese enmity, driven by the Australian pro-US national lobby. The announcement will make it harder for Australian armed forces to stay out of rash US-UK anti-Chinese naval provocations in the South China or East China Seas, even if Australia’s national interest were to stay out of such actions,” he explained.
The new strategic alliance will effectively limit Australia’s decision-making
“With the announcement of AUKUS and the announced decision to order either American or British nuclear-powered submarines, Australia moves further into the front line military provocations against China or Russia. Australia’s main attraction for the US lies in geography: Australia’s location is ideal for triangulating strategic surveillance satellites on China and Russia. In strategic terms, Australia looks more and more like an American forward base in the Asia-Pacific region,” Kevin concluded.
The underlying threat to China is the blueprint for a future US navy, called Battle Force 2045, which is heavily focused on manned and unmanned submarines, at a huge financial cost. By 2045, attack submarines will be the largest component of the US navy, with dozens of Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vessels (XLUUV’s).
Last year the Chinese economy grew by 2,3 percent while the US GDP shrank by 2,3 percent, with China overtaking the US in broad economic terms by 2025.
In March, the outgoing head of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Philip Davidson warned that the US could be at war with China within six years. Incoming chief Admiral John Aquilino however believes that conflict with China was “much closer to us than most think”. This is what Australian unionists fear most.
Australian trade unions are warning that the AUKUS agreement opened up the country to danger on multiple fronts. China’s possible lack of demand for iron ore is not the only issue affecting the future of Australia.
‘Workers have no interest in war with China or any other country’
Attacking the Australian Prime Minister, unionists said Scott Morrison should have focused on helping Australians affected by lockdown, instead of “pursuing secret military deals”. The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) added the defence pact would “continue to escalate unnecessary conflict with China”, saying the announcement already led to “seafarers stranded on coal ships and some trades shut down”.
The MUA added that “workers have no interest in war with China or any other country”.
It said that “extraordinary sums of money have been wasted” on the canceled contract with France, and the delivery of nuclear submarines will likely cost the country much more than that.
The Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU) also called Canberra’s decision to join AUKUS a “betrayal”. ETU National Assistant Secretary Michael Wright argued the agreement was undermining “generations of highly-skilled, secure, well-paying Australian shipbuilding jobs. It is dangerous and delusional to rely on nuclear submarines for our defence.”
Australia’s Victoria state has not only shut down the Internet but also construction sites across Melbourne following the massive protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccines. On Monday, workers marched against a mandatory vaccine dose to access their workplace.
Officials said some sites would be shut for up to two weeks with property damaged and several people arrested. Hundreds had gathered in Melbourne for yet another anti-vaccination protest on Tuesday after riot police used rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse crowds.
The CFMEU union has tried to tow the government line by saying the protest had been “infiltrated” by right-wing groups. It claimed that this was in response to a combination of a rise in Covid-19 transmissions in the building industry and the “riots” in Melbourne.