Showing posts with label Scott Morrison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scott Morrison. Show all posts

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

A Quote for Australia Day-Invasion Day 2021


“I'm astounded at the comment [from the Prime Minister]…..

"It indicates to me a very shallow understanding of the arrival of the First Fleet and the impact of that on Aboriginal Australia.

"It's a very selfish comment. He said nothing about the arrival of that fleet on the Aboriginal owners who own the place.

"There's no empathy there at all. He's turning it inward. It's all about self-praise and aggrandisement of white fella colonisation.

"It's so shallow in that it doesn't involve inclusion or diversity.

"I just think he's very lightweight when it comes to understanding Australian history and Aboriginal perspectives about the British colonisation of the country.”

[Former Australian of the Year. Northern Territory Treaty Commissioner and ANU Professor of Law, Michael Dodson AM, a proud Yawuru man, quoted in ABC News online, 22.01.21]

An example of how Australian colonial history was re-written

In 1803 the first British soldiers and convicts landed in Van Diemen's Land and in 1824 it became a separate colony to New South Wales. 

By then the colonial population of the island numbered est. 11,967 souls and a population explosion had begun which expanded across more of the land.

Between 1825 and 1831 - when the British-European population had almost tripled - Aboriginal resistance to invasion and occupation of their country increased, with 219 colonists and 260 Aboriginals reported killed. [Nicholas Clements, 2014] 

Though the reality is that Aboriginal deaths were likely considerably higher as this number may not have counted all men, women and children gratuitously murdered, as it is believed that few so-called 'reprisal' incidents were officially recorded at the time they occurred. [Hobart Town Gazette December 3, 1823; Ryan, 1996:86-88; Bonwick, 1870:99, Hobart Town Gazette May 5, 1827; Colonial Times May 11, 1827; George 2002:13, Lee 1927:41; AOT VDL 5/1 No.2, 14/1/28 in SciencePo, 5 March 2008]

However, contemporary colonial history often tried to paint a different picture......

Legend reads: "Why Massa Gubernor", said Black Jack. "You Profflamation all gammon.
"How blackfellow read him eh? He no learn him read book."
"Read that then", said the Governor, pointing to the picture.'

Images are treacherous; labels more so. As it happens, Governor Davey’s Proclamation to the Aborigines 1816 had nothing to do with Governor Davey. It does not date from 1816. And it is not really a proclamation. It was commissioned by Lieutenant Governor Sir George Arthur; in 1830, around one hundred copies were published by the government printer in Hobart, placed on wooden boards, and disseminated. The misattribution dates from its re-discovery in the 1860s and might be explained in two ways. First, by setting the date back almost a generation, the notion that the British colony was founded on the principle of the rule of law is thereby promoted.

Law always needs some mythic retrospectivity to shore up its legitimacy—a penal colony established by dispossession and maintained by violence over whites and blacks alike, especially. The violence and chaos that mark the birth of any new legal order thus become cloaked in a myth that emphasizes instead its inevitability, its order, and its naturalness. By the 1860s, it surely served the interests of Tasmania’s free settlers to inject the rule of law into their narrative of legitimate settlement, as early as possible.

Secondly, Thomas Davey cuts a more attractive figure as author of the Proclamation than Sir George Arthur. As governor, Davey had protested in 1814 his “utter indignation and abhorrence” about the kidnapping of Aboriginal children. But Governor Arthur was an altogether more paradoxical figure, a man who oscillated wildly between expressions of concern for the Aborigines and military campaigns against them; between inciting white settlers to kill Tasmania’s first inhabitants and expressing outrage when they did. He was a man who combined eruptions of extreme action with outbursts of remorseful reflection. Above all, as the man behind the notorious Black Line, the dragnet which attempted to corral like cattle the Aboriginal population of the whole island, Arthur symbolizes a way of thinking about the original Tasmanians that “would be laughable were it not so criminally tragic.” Such a background surely taints and complicates the promise of the rule of law.

The cartoon was suggested and apparently drawn by Arthur’s Surveyor-General George Frankland, and he in turn was inspired by Aboriginal bark paintings.....

The paradox that this drawing raises lies in the difficulty of squaring “the real wishes of the government,” as the Proclamation presents it, with the “the actual state of things” in Van Diemen’s Land. At the very same time that Governor Arthur’s Proclamation elaborated an expansive commitment to the rule of law, he was extending martial law throughout Tasmania. Martial law had initially been declared in 1828 in the face of Aboriginal resistance to colonial settlement. In February of 1830, a reward of five pounds was proclaimed for the capture of adult Aborigines (two pounds for a child), describing them as “a horde of [s]avages” consumed by “revengeful feelings.” In October of 1830, faced by “continued repetitions of the most wanton and sanguinary acts of violence and outrage,” Arthur extended martial law to “every part of this Island.” On October 7, “the [white] community . . . en masse” was to spread out like a human chain across the whole island and, by moving forward, herd the Black or Aboriginal Natives on to Tasman’s Peninsula where they could be penned in once and for all.

Yet martial law had always been understood as involving the suspension of the rule of law. In 1829, the brutal murder of an Aboriginal woman was deemed by the Solicitor-General to be beyond the reach of the common law precisely because it fell under the very broad rubric of “necessary operations against the enemies.” Subject to “an active and extended system of Military operations against the Natives generally” and until the “cessation of hostilities,” Aboriginal Tasmanians were specifically placed outside the rule of law. The Black Line, a dismal and notorious folly, led to the capture of a grand total of two Aborigines and the shooting of two more, but it was powerfully evocative of the colonial government’s attitude towards them….

[Desmond Manderson (January 2013) in NYLS Law Review, Vol 57, Issue 1, THE LAW OF THE IMAGE AND THE IMAGE OF THE LAW”, pp. 157-158]

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Quote of the Week

"Morrison has been unmasked. His refusal to openly condemn Trump’s behaviour and legacy is the deliberate act of a weak, spineless and character-free Prime Minister. At a pivotal time in world history, Morrison retreated. He didn’t want to tell the truth for one reason – politics.”  [Former press officer to Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser, Alistair Drysdale quoted in The New Daily, 16 January 2021] 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

January 2021 was the month that Australia discovered hard-right members of the Morrison Government were flirting with Donald Trump's MAGA mob

When 6 January 2021 saw a Trump-incited violent mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop formal verification of the Electoral College vote in the 2020 presidential election, Australia also discovered that some in Prime Minister Scott Morrison's circle of friends and colleagues had personal accounts on social media platforms - such as the now deplatformed Parler - where pro-Trump supporters, QAnon followers and white supremacists discussed insurrection, political assassination and the so-called 'stolen elections'. 

People such as long-time family friend and QAnon enthusiast Tim Stewart and colleagues Senator for Queensland Matt Canavan and MP for Dawson George Christensen participated.

To make matters worse, federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly spouts dangerously incorrect information concerning medical treatment of COVID-19 infection via the House of Represetnatives' Hansard, Facebook and Twitter, which was "echoed" on Parler.

The Guardian, 11 January 2021:

..The treasurer and deputy Liberal leader, Josh Frydenberg, told reporters on Monday he was “pretty uncomfortable” with decisions to ban Trump because freedom of speech is “fundamental”.

Government MPs including National George Christensen and Liberal Craig Kelly have criticised social media for censoring Trump’s posts describing the mob who stormed the US Capitol as “very nice people”, arguing he’d also told them to go home “in peace”.

On Sunday, Christensen proposed laws to “stop social media platforms from censoring any and all lawful content created by their users”, an apparent reversal of his current policy on Facebook that “publishers have the right to remove content that goes against the rules or ethos of their publication”……

Kelly and Christensen have both argued that antifa members may have been present in the Capitol mob. Morrison has so far defended his MPs’ right to freedom of speech even in relation to false claims about the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election.

Albanese told 2SM Radio that the “extremely dangerous” Capitol siege was prompted by “mistruths” and “encouraged by Donald Trump”.

He welcomed the moves by social media companies against Trump, saying: “It’s about time that people weren’t given a platform to spread hatred, to spread lies, which has had consequences for people.”

Albanese also argued Kelly had spread “conspiracy theories” about the treatment of Covid-19, over earlier misleading claims about the effectiveness of hyrdoxychloroquine.

It’s got to be called out. I can’t understand how someone like Craig Kelly can be allowed to promote these theories, along with George Christensen and others, and remain a part of mainstream society.”

Albanese noted that Kelly, although a backbencher, is also chair of the parliamentary joint committee on law enforcement.

Earlier, Frydenberg said MPs were accountable to their electorates, and regardless of what they said or tweeted “they are democratically elected”.

Canberra Times, 15 January 2021

The argument over free speech has now extended into the farcical.

On Wednesday US time, during the discussion of failed US President Donald Trump's impeachment, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congresswoman and QAnon supporter, wore a mask with the word "censored" emblazoned across it.

She wore the mask while speaking in Congress - because apparently using the microphone to speak was not enough free speech for the conspiracy-loving politician.

Our own politicians are also promoting all brands of nonsense, humiliating Australians on the world stage.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack  compared the powerful Black Lives matter movement to a band of violent fools storming the US Capitol last week, and was backed up by LNP senator Matt Canavan. Unloved backbencher Craig Kelly, the federal member for Hughes, continues to promote untested remedies for COVID-19 without a word of reprimand from his political masters. George Christensen, the member for Manila , promoted the falsehood that the invasion of the Capitol was a bunch of antifascists (Antifa) in disguise. Help me, God.....

Now Dave Sharma, the federal member for Wentworth, bangs on about free speech.

I don't think I can help either McCormack, Christensen or Kelly, who must be beholden to mystery interests - otherwise why would they behave so strangely? But Dave Sharma, former diplomat, should be another matter, right? Seems like a well-educated guy. Sharma said the deplatforming of Trump from Twitter and elsewhere was "chilling". And, more or less, be careful what you wish for.

The UN General Assembly adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1966. Basically, it says yeah, we all have the right to have an opinion, and to express ourselves freelyBut - and this is quite a big but - when we exercise our freedoms, we also have to exercise our responsibilities. For example, that freedom may be "subject to certain restrictions", such as respect for the rights or reputations of others and "the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals"…...

Read the full article here.


Some of the "very nice people" approved of by members of the Morrison Government......

Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Columbia, media release excerpts:

15.01.21 - A retired Pennsylvania firefighter was charged yesterday and arrested today in Pennsylvania in connection with the riots at the U.S. Capitol last week.

Robert Sanford, 55, of Boothwyn, PA, was charged by criminal complaint with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly or disruptive conduct on capitol grounds, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers while engaged in the performance of official duties.

It is alleged that during the events at the U.S. Capitol, Sanford struck three U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers with a fire extinguisher. A video, recorded by an individual who was present in the crowd, captures when a man throws what appears to be a fire extinguisher at a group of USCP officers protecting the lower west terrace of the Capitol.

The fire extinguisher struck one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head; then, the fire extinguisher ricochets striking a second officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head; and ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head. After throwing the fire extinguisher at USCP, Sanford leaves the area in the opposite direction. Federal authorities were able to identify Sanford, after receiving a tip on January 12.

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the DOJ’s National Security Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The cases are being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the United States Capitol Police.

The information contained in the charging documents are merely allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty......

In a recorded interview that also occurred on January 12, 2021, the complainant told FBI Special Agents that SANFORD had told the complainant that SANFORD had travelled to Washington, D.C. on a bus with a group of people. The group had gone to the White House and listened to President Donald J. Trump’s speech and then had followed the President’s instructions and gone to the Capitol.


13.01.21 - Two off-duty Rocky Mount, Virginia police officers were charged yesterday in federal court in the District of Columbia in connection with the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson were charged by complaint with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Both defendants were arrested on January 13, 2021, in Virginia. It is alleged that during the events at the U.S. Capitol, Fracker and Robertson were photographed in the Capitol building making an obscene gesture in front of the John Stark statue.

On social media, Robertson is quoted as saying, “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business ... The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” He also stated that he was “proud” of the photo on an Instagram post that was shared to Facebook, because he was “willing to put skin in the game.” On Facebook, Fracker posted a comment that read, “Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y’all do what you feel you need to.” The post has since been deleted.

These cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the DOJ’s National Security Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia. The cases are being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the United States Capitol Police.

The information contained in the charging documents are merely allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty......


13.01.21 - Defendant, Richard Barnett, who was arrested on Jan. 8, 2021, was charged in an amended complaint yesterday with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without law authority; one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds; and one count of theft of public money, property, or records.

Additional complaints have been submitted in federal court and investigations are ongoing. As previously reported, approximately 40 individuals were arrested and charged in Superior Court with offenses including, but not limited to, unlawful entry, curfew violations, and firearms-related crimes.

The cases are being prosecuted by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. The cases are being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Capitol Police Department, and the Metropolitan Police Department. Valuable assistance was provided by: the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York; the FBI’s New York Field Office; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin; the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida; the FBI’s Tampa Field Office; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho; the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; the U.S. Attorney's Office for Maryland; and the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office......


10.01.21 - Two men were charged today in federal court in the District of Columbia in connection with the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

Larry Rendell Brock, of Texas, was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Brock was arrested today in Texas.

It is alleged that Brock was identified as one of the individuals who unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol wearing a green helmet, green tactical vest with patches, black and camo jacket, and beige pants holding a white flex cuff, which is used by law enforcement to restrain and/or detain subjects.

Eric Gavelek Munchel, of Tennessee, was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Munchel was arrested today in Tennessee.

It is alleged that Munchel was inside of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Photos depicting his presence show a person who appears to be Munchel carrying plastic restraints, an item in a holster on his right hip, and a cell phone mounted on his chest with the camera facing outward, ostensibly to record events that day.

These cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Counterterrorism Section of the DOJ’s National Security Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee. The cases are being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, the FBI’s Memphis Field Office and the United States Capitol Police.

The information contained in the charging documents are merely allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty......

On January 8, 2021, another witness contacted the FBI to report that he recognized BROCK in a picture taken inside the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. The witness sent the FBI an email with a picture of BROCK that had been taken inside the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. About the picture, the witness wrote, "It looks like him and he has pilot wings on his chest in this picture. He was an A-lO pilot. Worked at L3, and he still has contacts that work with L3 that knew he was flying to Washington DC." The picture depicts BROCK in a military-style helmet, tactical vest, and holding flex-cuffs in his right hand.

Law enforcement interviewed MUNCHEL and identified that he was carrying a black and yellow “Taser Pulse” taser that emits electrical shock. MUNCHEL stated that he possessed the taser for self-protection as he had participated at the pro-Trump rally.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Kevin Rudd: "Donald Trump may have lit the match that caused his country’s turmoil, but it was Rupert Murdoch who crammed the joint full of explosives"

Crikey, 12 January 2021:


Donald Trump may have lit the match that caused his country’s turmoil, but it was Rupert Murdoch who crammed the joint full of explosives. 

His systematic manipulation and radicalisation of the American right-wing polity at large, and the Republican Party in particular, should ring alarm bells throughout our nation, including in the office of the prime minister. 

Over the past 25 years, Murdoch has used his Fox News network to unite American conservatives under his banner and shift them from the centre right to the far right with an intoxicating diet of grievance-driven, race-fuelled identity politics. 

By the time Trump announced his presidential campaign, these voters had been indoctrinated into a universe of “fake news”, “alternative facts” and elaborate conspiracy theoriesThe operational definition of fake news, in the eyes of the Trump presidency, became anything other than Fox News. 

After some initial disagreements, Murdoch backed Trump all the way to the White House. And they kept in lockstep throughout the Trump presidency. 

Trump would often repeat publicly the talking points he’d picked up from Fox. Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker, recommended booking interviews on Trump’s favourite shows as among the most effective ways of communicating directly with the Oval Office. And nothing delighted Murdoch’s swaggering ego, hard-right ideology and business tax interests more. 

Fox covered up for Trump’s mistakes, trying desperately to keep track with his shifting claims about the mildness or severity of the coronavirus. 

When Fox’s news reporters found nothing newsworthy in documents relating to Joe Biden’s son Hunter, Murdoch’s New York Post (under the watchful eye of his leading Australian henchman Col Allan) swooped in by pressuring junior reporters to put their names to its dubious front page story.

Like Trump, Murdoch’s news outlets also gave succour to the dangerous QAnon cult, with the devastating consequences witnessed in Washington last week. 

It is now beyond time for Scott Morrison to stand up and denounce QAnon before it can fully take root here in Australia. Even if it strains the prime minister’s personal friendships with members of the far right, he should send the sort of crystal-clear signal that Trump proved himself unable to before it was too late.....

Read the full article here

Personally, I believe it is too late to save Scott Morrison from himself. He lacks the ability for genuine self-examination.

Morrison was always attracted to Donald Trump, as one flimflam man often admires another more successful confidence trickster.

SNAPSHOT: Peter van Onselen

Scotty from Marketing has clearly drunk the QAnon-Trump Kool Aid, wrapped himself in his personal closet racism, his foreign Legion of Merit medal and those evangelical & pentecostal contacts he appears to prize above the interests of the Australian nation, so that he is now willingly protecting those members of his own government who are just the sort of greedy, self-interested, ignorant crazies who have driven American society into the ground.


Monday, 11 January 2021

COVID-19 State Of Play 2021: about the Australian Government national vaccination program......

On 7 January 2021 Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison fronted a press conference at which he stated of the proposed national vaccination program; “It's a federal vaccination policy”.

Currently this federal policy commences with only one vaccine agreement being implemented – the two-dose Astra Zeneca vaccine (doses given 28 days apart) which is considered to have an efficacy rate of at least 62 per cent in those fully vaccinated.

This vaccine choice by federal government appears to be predicated on potential product loss and lower storage costs, as the Astra Zeneca vaccine vials can be stored in fridges rather than requiring very low temperature medical freezers.

The Australian Government’s agreement with Astra Zeneca is that this pharmaceutical company will deliver 3.8 million doses in early 2021, with another 50 million doses to be manufactured under licence in Australia by CSL Behring.

Using the stated dosing regime the initial doses sent to Australia would only fully vaccinate est. 1.9 million people or would only partially vaccinate 3.8 million people.

It is to be hoped that before mid-February CSL Behring will have managed to manufacture and stockpile at least another 4.2 million doses if Morrison's stated population target is to be met.

At that 7 January press conference Morrison went on to say that he expected that the nation rollout will commence with vaccinations of high priority groups in mid to late February 2021.

He is hoping to start the vaccination with around 80,000 vaccinations a week and, to build up those numbers over the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Further, Morrison expressed a hope that that by the end of March 4 million people will have received the vaccine.

If vaccinations commenced at the earliest date Morrison has indicated then it would be on 14 February 2021 with 80,000 having received a first dose injection by 21 February.

To reach the target of 4 million people having received an injection by 31 March 2021, the rollout would have to proceed from 22 February onwards at a rate of est. 95,609 people a day.

Being generous and allowing that though he said March he may have meant mid-April, the amended rate of vaccination would be lowered to est. 66,440 people per day.

To complete full vaccination of 4 million people, the second-dose round would have to commence on or about 14 March 2021 which would raise the number of people receiving injections by the end of March (or alternatively by mid-April) to an impossibly large number.

This appears to be an incredibly optimistic timetable and the logistics daunting. Hospital clinics and GP practices would likely be overwhelmed.

I sincerely hope I am wrong and the states and territories manage to pull a few medical rabbits out of their public health hats, because I suspect on past behaviour Scott Morrison will decide to holiday or be otherwise unavailable for much of the initial 4-6 week vaccine rollout period.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Quotes of the Week


“The honour [Legion of Merit] recognises Morrison for his “leadership in addressing global challenges” and for “strengthening the United States and Australia partnership”. Indeed, when Australia was facing one of its biggest challenges this time last year, Morrison did show great leadership, racing to one of America’s more tropical states to further strengthen that partnership.”  [Satirist Mark Humphries writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 December 2020]

 ain't it fun when you open your mouth and your parents fall out” [Frank the Dasher, Twitter 28 December 2020]

Memes of the Week




Monday, 7 December 2020

In a post-Trump world how the U.S. sees Australia and its Prime Minister Scott Morrison

ANU Australian Centre On China In The World, 15 October 2019

From the moment Donald Trump was elected US president Scott Morrison has aped his caps, lapel pin, hand gestures, clumsy megaphone diplomacy and verbal aggression towards China. 

Who will Morrison ape now that Trump is a spent force awaiting an ignoble departure from the White House in January 2021 and how will an incoming Biden Government see Australia?

This is a snapshot of current American opinion of Scott Morrison and his government.....

New York Times, 1 December 2020:

At a time when Australia’s favored nation status with the Trump White House is about to expire, there is widespread concern that a Biden administration will focus less on America’s Pacific partners and more on rebuilding ties in Europe. That has pushed Australia deeper into a position of pleading for help in corralling China even as it beats its chest for sovereignty.

On one level, the prime minister’s reaction was completely reasonable. On another, it’s at the upper limit of what’s acceptable without making things worse,” said John Blaxland, a professor of international security at the Australian National University. “He’s got to tread a very fine line because Australia’s leverage is limited.”

David Brophy, a senior lecturer in modern Chinese history at the University of Sydney, said it had created a counterintuitive dynamic. China often condemns Australia for doing America’s bidding, when, in fact, Australia is trying desperately to cajole the United States into deeper engagement.

The American presence in Asia is more important for Australia than it is for America,” Brophy said. “When Australia sees any hint of withdrawal, as we saw at the beginning of the Trump administration, it stirs up this sense of panic. It’s not enough to wait for the U.S. to get back in the game; Australia has to show it can do more and will do more.”

Increasingly, that has meant tolerating economic pain and abandoning the approach that Australia has long followed with China — say little and do what must be done. Morrison’s government and China’s propaganda machine have instead been trading blows and turns at the microphone.

Geoff Raby, a former Australian ambassador to China, described it as a self-perpetuating cycle of paranoid provocation.

They are each confirming the other’s worst suspicions,” he said.

Whispered complaints are out, replaced by competing news conferences and laundry lists of grievances. Australia has launched two foreign interference investigations with high-profile raids. It now plans to file a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization over China’s blocking of barley imports — one of many products that China has rejected as tensions have soared.

University Wire, 1 December 2020:

While China and Australia have always been close trading partners, Australia has also been the key United States ally in the region - accommodating a significant American military presence and hosting an intelligence facility at Pine Gap. A senator even demanded that Chinese-Australian politicians denounce the CPC to prove their allegiance to the country.

The relationship between Canberra and Beijing has deteriorated after Australia pushed for an worldwide inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in April without consulting Beijing, widening cracks in the relationship that had been growing since Canberra banned China's Huawei Technologies Co. from helping build its 5G telecommunications network two years ago.

In September two senior Australian reporters, the last in China working for Australian news outlets, left the country abruptly after being questioned by Chinese officials. This economic recovery development strategy could allow China to buy considerable amounts of Australian goods.

But it does feel a *little* bit rich to be demanding an apology over the post when, as far as I can see, Scott Morrison hasn't issued an apology to the families of those who were allegedly killed.

"As a warhound of the US, Australia should restrain its arrogance. Its politics, military and culture should stay far away from China - let's assume the two countries are not on the same planet", the paper argued. "Particularly, its warships must not come to China's coastal areas to flex muscles, or else it will swallow the bitter pills". No matter what harsh words people use on them for the murder, the Australian government should have accepted it.

Earlier this month, China outlined a list of grievances about Australia's foreign investment, national security and human rights policy, saying Canberra needed to correct its actions to restore the bilateral relationship with its largest trading partner.

New York Times, 2 December 2020:

For the past few years, Australia has positioned itself at the front of a global effort to stand up to China. It was the first country to ban Huawei's 5G technology, to pass foreign interference laws aimed at curbing Chinese influence, and to call for an international inquiry into the source of the coronavirus.

Now, Australia is sounding an even louder alarm. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, already vexed by China's blockade of Australian imports -- wine, coal, barley and cotton -- demanded on Monday that the Chinese government apologize for a lurid tweet showing an Australian soldier with a knife at the neck of an Afghan child. The world, he warned, was watching.

But even as he elevated a Twitter post to a four-alarm diplomatic fire, he also called for a reset with Beijing, reiterating that Australia's end game was still "the happy coexistence of two partners." In that somersault, Mr. Morrison inadvertently let the world hear Australia's internal dialogue of doubt -- one that echoes around the globe as China increasingly asserts its might.

The prime minister gave voice to the insecurities and anxieties that come with being caught between two superpowers. Those jitters are partly about the limited options in the face of China's tightening vise. But they are also about an America in flux.

At a time when Australia's favored nation status with the Trump White House is about to expire, there is widespread concern that a Biden administration will focus less on America's Pacific partners and more on rebuilding ties in Europe. That has pushed Australia deeper into a position of pleading for help in corralling China even as it beats its chest for sovereignty.

"On one level, the prime minister's reaction was completely reasonable. On another, it's at the upper limit of what's acceptable without making things worse," said John Blaxland, a professor of international security at the Australian National University. "He's got to tread a very fine line because Australia's leverage is limited."

The country's entire history since settlement has been shaped by unquestioned dependence on an alliance with a distant and dominant power, first England, then the United States. The prospect of an end to that stability, with American decline or indifference and Chinese dominance, fills most Australians with dread.

Voice of America News, 2 December 2020:

On November 17 Tokyo and Canberra agreed to negotiate the Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on its website. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was visiting Tokyo then to meet his counterpart Yoshihide Suga. Japan has no similar deals with any country besides the United States.

The two leaders issued a joint statement that omitted China by name but condemned its activities in the South China Sea, where Beijing took the upper hand in a six-way sovereignty dispute after landfilling islets for military use through 2017.

"The [leaders] had serious concerns about the recent negative developments and serious incidents in the South China Sea, including continuing militarization of disputed features, dangerous and coercive use of coast guard vessels and 'maritime militia', launches of ballistic missiles, and efforts to disrupt other countries' resource exploitation activities," the statement said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian slammed the statement as "a gross interference to China's internal matters."

But Beijing cannot cast the Australia-Japan pact as explicitly anti-China, said Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. "China would of course not like it, but China could not argue that it is targeting China," Oh said. "Any two countries could sign this kind of thing. A third country could not say 'it is targeting me.'"

U.S. officials, conversely, will probably smile on the Australia-Japan deal because Washington wants its allies to help with pro-American causes in Asia, said Stephen Nagy, senior associate professor of politics and international studies at International Christian University in Tokyo.

The U.S. government periodically sends navy ships to the South China Sea, upsetting Beijing, and offers weapons to Asian countries for their defense against China. Beijing maintains the world's third strongest arms forces. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has taken on China as well over trade, technology access and consular issues.

"The fact that Australian troops can come and base here and engage in more frequent and probably deeper bilateral training with Japan and of course with the United States, because the United States is already based here, this creates more interoperability," Nagy said. "It creates a more cohesive bilateral and multilateral partnership to push back against China."

The reciprocal access agreement will mainly smooth drills and training between countries that already work together militarily, scholars say. Japanese already visit Australia for military training, for example a long-range howitzer firing exercise last year.

The two sides can learn more from each other on amphibious operations and explore areas for joint development such as long-range strike capability, Davis said.

"The significance of the RAA cannot be understated," Morrison said in a statement in November on the prime minister's website. "It will form a key plank of Australia's and Japan's response to an increasingly challenging security environment in our region amid more uncertain strategic circumstances."

CNN Wire Services, 2 December 2020:

Canberra's tensions with Beijing may also cast a shadow on the recovery. Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Frydenberg called the dispute with China a "very serious situation."

"China is our number one trading partner. Many Australian jobs rely on trade," he said, adding that Australia is looking for free trade agreements with other partners around the world — including the European Union — in an effort to reduce the risk.

"I'm very optimistic about the opportunities for our exporters around the world," Frydenberg said.

Economists, meanwhile, say the ongoing trade spat hasn't yet escalated to the point at which it poses a real threat to Australia's economy.

Relations have been deteriorating since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in April, a move that Beijing called "political manipulation."…..

Politico, 3 December 2020:

The wolves come home to roost. On Sunday, Chinese diplomat (or is that “diplomat”?) Zhao Lijian managed to turn hostilities between Beijing and Canberra up yet another notch when he shared a graphic illustration on Twitter depicting an Australian servicemember gleefully cutting the throat of a small Afghan child. Australia’s defense minister had released a report on Nov. 19 recommending 19 Australian soldiers be investigated for what it called the “murder” of 39 civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan. Australian PM Scott Morrison promptly demanded an apology for the image, but he got the opposite. “Do they think that their merciless killing of Afghan civilians is justified but the condemnation of such ruthless brutality is not?” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a Monday presser.

Nationalistic Chinese netizens were excited by the row, lauding Zhao for “standing up and speaking up against the enemy,” reports China Watcher’s Shen Lu. Many raved about Zhao’s “agenda-setting capability” on the international stage. The creator of the image Zhao posted, who calls himself a “wolf warrior illustrator,” quickly followed up with another creation:

This one, which appears to depict a press corps more interested in a violent painting than a battlefield, has received over 546,000 likes and counting. But in posts that censors later deleted, Chinese critics said they believe Zhao does owe Australia a mea culpa, and delivered a reminder that Zhao used to go by Muhammad Lijian Zhao on Twitter while he was a diplomat in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, incoming Natsec adviser Sullivan sure seemed to subtweet Zhao when he wrote Wednesday on Twitter that America will “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Australia, “as we have for a century.” It’s another important signal that Beijing won’t get a reset on its terms.

Univesity Wire, 3 December 2020:

The Australian government was among a number of Western countries that have called for an investigation into the origin of the Coronavirus in Wuhan. Two days later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the World Health Organization needed the powers of "weapons inspectors" to get to the bottom of what happened in Wuhan.

What followed led to a diplomatic row and a souring of relations between the two countries not seen before - a row that reached a crescendo this week when Mr Morrison demanded an official apology after a graphic slur about Australia's alleged war crimes by a Chinese official on Twitter.