Trump U.S. Presidency

AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENHANCE AND PROGRESS AUSTRALIA’S NEED FOR GENUINE INDEPENDENCE AND SOVEREIGNTY IN A CHANGING GLOBAL CONFIGURATION

by Brian Boyd

(A snapshot review to encourage a broader, ongoing public debate)

February 2017

Introduction

TrumpThe US presidential win by arch-conservative, billionaire Donald Trump (9.11.16) immediately stimulated an interesting debate in sections of the media about Australia’s broader standing in the global order and specifically about the possible future of the ‘alliance’ with the US superpower.

Events around his recent inauguration (21.1.17) provides a temporary line in the sand to review this initial media discussion and encourage a more wide ranging public debate around such an important national issue.


It is early days to see where Trump will end up given much of his pre-election rhetoric and controversial promises. However all  patriotic Australians are entitled to use the current period to focus on the key issues that go to moving our nation forward in a fast changing world. In turn, in the evolving Trump era, what our political and bureaucrat elites discuss, agree to and allow to happen should be monitored and exposed to wider public scrutiny.

Any self-respecting nation should, for example, have a truly independent foreign policy, not welded to any other power.

Australia’s national independence, dignity and struggle for a fair and decent economic, social and political governance model has been ongoing since British colonialization. This movement has seen many twists and turns, especially since WWII when Australia became increasingly tied into the US economic and military orbit.

As a starting point for this important discussion it is worth revisiting some of the commentary of many of Australia’s established political commentariat that appeared in parts of the media, following Trump’s ascendency.

 Sections of the mainstream media, particularly during the period between Trump’s election and swearing in, provides a snapshot of views that progressive and patriotic Australians can explore and give consideration to, in developing a more succinct, progressive political framework for advancing Australia to a better place in the world. For too long our nation has been trapped within an economic and military matrix concocted by superpowers and large economic blocs.

On Trump’s Inauguration Day the Melbourne Herald-Sun (21.1.17) ran a Saturday morning feature by Paul Toohey.  Headed: ’Trump-what his presidency will mean for Australia’, the comment on the ANZUS Treaty was interesting: “This should remain unaffected, although Australia will more carefully weigh its military ventures with the US”.

Many decisions made in the US have and can affect our standard of living, development, national safety and the future for our children. The recent pull out from Australia by the American car manufacturers illustrates this point only too well.

By scrutinising some of the public statements of mainstream current and former politicians, experts and media commentators triggered by the US presidential election result, but not limited by them in any way, it is possible to shake out some parameters for refreshing an Australian focused political agenda.

LIFTING THE DEBATE TO A HIGHER LEVEL

It was an embarrassing moment for Australia. The PM Malcolm Turnbull did his own version of of ‘All the way with LBJ’ * with outgoing US President Barack Obama at the APEC forum in Peru (Herald-Sun 22.11.16); he took a ‘selfie’ with the outgoing American leader. 

[*Back in 1966 the then Australian PM Harold Holt tugged his forelock to visiting US President Lindon Baines Johnston with this infamous declaration.]

This embarrassment was to be overshadowed when less than two weeks into becoming US president Trump lambasted Turnbull on the telephone over an overhanging refugee deal the Australian PM had made last year with Obama. The Washington Post exposed the dressing down on 2.2.17 that had occurred on the previous weekend. The incident became a global diplomatic national embarrassment.

Back to the day after Trump was declared the winner the AFR ran under the headings: ‘Trump’s new America’ and ‘Trump win sparks domestic policy war’, a report from Phillip Coorey, who wrote in part: “ PM Malcolm Turnbull has rejected suggestions-including from within his own ranks- that the government should rethink policy direction following the rise of Donald Trump.

“Instead, Mr Turnbull said the boilover in the United States made it even more important to explain the benefits of such policies as globalisation and to make sure people do not feel left behind”.

In the Australian (11.11.16) , under the headings : ‘Foreign Affairs’ and ‘Chance to reassess ‘sacramental’ alliance’, journalist Sam Buckingham-Jones reported in part:

“The election of Donald Trump should force Australia to rethink the alliance with the US and offers a chance to “cut the tag” to American international policy decisions, Paul Keating believes.

“The former prime minister said Australia in the past 15 years had come to see itself as a lesser ally in its partnership with the US. Instead, Australia was a “better society”, which should focus its attention on relationships with Asia.

“We’ve got to this almost sort of crazy position now where the American alliance…it has now taken on a reverential, sacramental quality”, he told ABC’s 7 30 last night…

“ Mr Keating, prime minister from 1991 to 1996, said since his successor John Howard’s willingness to join the war in Iraq, Australia’s position on the world stage has diminished. “In the years since, we’ve had more or less a tag-along foreign policy, tagging along to the US”, he said.” It’s time to cut the tag; time to get out of it. What we need to do is make our way in Asia ourselves with an independent foreign policy”.

 The AFR on Sat 12/11/16, under the headings : ‘Australia needs to sort regional ties, Canberra faces a balancing act in Asia-Pacific’, journalist Fleur Anderson reported :

“ Asked on Friday if he was confident he could work with Donald Trump, Turnbull replied: “Yes I am. The conversation I had with him was very warm, very practical.”

“Turnbull’s first step was assuring Trump that Australia did not take the US for granted. But the government accolades in Parliament for the US strategic alliance on Thursday were so irritating to former Prime Minister Paul Keating that he had to respond.

“  We’ve got this almost sort of crazy position now where the American alliance, instead of simply being a treaty where the United States is obliged to consult with us in the advent of adverse strategic circumstances, it has now taken on a reverential, sacramental quality,” he told ABC’s 7:30.

“ I’m not talking about simply the government, I’m talking about some people on the Labor side as well.”

In the Australian on the same day columnists Will Glasgow and Christine Lacy expanded on the Keating intervention, under the heading: ‘Keating in his element with insults’, they wrote:

 “Former prime minister Paul Keating has had a fun few days…

“ All this built on an enjoyable Keating spray he delivered …on Leigh Sales 7:30 program…when, during an assessment of the Trump presidency, he lined up Phil Scanlan’s  AUSTRALIAN AMERICAN LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE.

“ There was a thing called the Australian American Leadership Dialogue –which by the way I never attended- which is sort of a cult thing that’s gone on for years”, Keating began, insulting Scanlan’s baby with masterful economy.

“  And I don’t know what the Americans put in the drinking water , but whenever the Australians come back , they’re all bowing and scraping and going on….

“The last two most egregious drinkers of the “cult’s” waters were then shadow defence minister Stephen Conroy (who while attending an AALD event in Washington DC in July called for a muscular response to China’s ...behaviour in the South China Sea) and Conroy’s replacement as shadow defence minister Richard Marles (who while attending a subsequent AALD event in Honolulu said, bizarrely, that the Turnbull government should cede power to the military to determine freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea).

“And among those handing out the spiked AALD drinking water? The alliance love-in’s co-chair Kim Beazley…”

By Wed 16/11/16 the AFR publishes in its editorial and opinion page a piece entitled: ‘We are better off without security blanket anyway’, by Brian Toohey.

 He writes in part:

” Donald Trump’s presidential election victory was followed immediately by hysterical claims he would tear up international alliances, leaving Australia naked and alone in the world…

“Even if he follows some of his isolationist instincts, that needn’t be all bad. It would be good if it meant Australia stayed out of another disastrous war like the one sparked by the invasion of Iraq that John Howard foolishly championed…

“Australia should stop behaving as a frightened little nation…

“US presidents will act in their own and their nation’s best interests, regardless of what Australia wants.”

Toohey’s views are hard hitting.

In the AFR, 18/11/16 journalist Laura Tingle, under the heading: ‘America’s earthquake has reshaped all our debates, suggests succinctly: “The Trump ascendancy has shifted the context for a lot of our domestic debates by the atmospherics it creates around discussions that were taking place anyway…

What discussions? Between who?

The broader Australian public are entitled to be informed and more deeply involved in these deliberations.

The daily commentary rolled on. Sometimes it became quite confusing, especially among the right-wing ‘experts’.

In the Australian of the 23/11/16 journalist Janet Albrechtsen comments at length on the Trump triumph under the sub-heading:  ‘When results don’t go your way, try therapy or tantrums’. She repetitively rants throughout the article that the US presidential election result generated “infantile reactions”, “puerile reactions” and “infantile tantrums” from a “complacent generation” and “pampered generation”!

Interestingly, Albrechtsen’s Murdoch stablemate Paul Kelly, in an adjacent article, is more circumspect but still tries to tell the incoming US president how to run US imperial interests:

Under the headings” ‘A protectionist, isolated, US will put the world on notice’ and ‘Donald Trump’s domestic war on elites could come with global collateral damage’, Kelly writes in part:

“ Paul Keating suggested this week that the meaning of the Trump convulsion – a reactionary property developer becoming US president- is that “we are in the last throes of the old world” with a new world in the process of unpredictable formation.

“This will be a terrifying or sobering event or even an opportunity depending upon your mindset. Donald Trump has just boasted he will “withdraw” America from the 12 nation – strong Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on day one…This enshrines a new protectionism at the heart of US power and cancels American faith in liberal globalism.

“It looms as a huge geo-strategic gift to China. The TPP was the economic arm of the US “pivot” to Asia. Trump’s decision will undermine the region’s confidence in US commitment to Asia. It is a blow to nation’s seeking to work with the US in the Asia-Pacific and keen to tie the US economic interests to US military interests in East Asia…

“Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday {22/11/16} the TPP had been “an important strategic commitment by the US”. He played down the extent of the blow and kept open the option of the saving the TPP in some form.”

It is interesting how Kelly paints the long mooted TPP as the economic pincher movement to the US “pivot” to Asia, as promoted by Obama and Gillard in Darwin in 2011. This link has not been openly acknowledged to date by our politicians. Kelly’s concern about Trump picking on the traditional US ‘elite’ is telling, as is his obsession with what is going to happen to the long established economic and military ‘ties’ to our region.

Paul Kelly and Malcolm Turnbull are already out of their comfort zone. They long for the ’orthodox’ US superpower, not one that is unpredictable with a ‘disruptor’ demeanour.

It was again embarrassing to watch PM Turnbull and his relevant ministers during January clinging desperately to the TPP even after Trump formerly scrapped via Executive Order. Former Liberal Party leader John Hewson in the Age (27.1.17) wrote that Turnbull was risking becoming “delusional” in trying to “save” the TPP.

In the herald-Sun the next day veteran journalist Laurie Oakes was harsher, writing: “It is as though Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t realise has been Trumped. The PM is still insisting there is life in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite the decision by the new occupant of the White House to withdraw…It is in short an ex-trade agreement.”

Mark Kenny in the Age (31.1.17) says Turnbull “is drifting towards the vapid” and looking “obsequious. Kenny adds: “Famously, [former US president] Richard Nixon’s chief counsel, Charles Colson had a sign in his office: “Once you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”.

“Presumably Trump believes he has the Turnbull government right where he wants it at present”.

The Australian on the 31.1.17 runs quotes from Greens leader Richard Di Natale who says recent actions by Donald Trump is an opportunity for Australia to “junk” its alliance with the US. He goes on to accuse PM Turnbull of “fawning” over the US president.

By the end of November Age commentator Waleed Aly writes (25.11.16) in part ,under the headings:’ Don’t follow the leader’ and ‘Australia needs to stop obsessing over Donald Trump and tend its own garden’:

“ The past fortnight seems to have cast a strange pall across Australian politics, as though we must now proceed beneath the veil of Trump’s election…In short, we’re watching the worst of America’s possibilities unfold ; civic identity-…begin to disintegrate . If we’re to avoid something similar, we’ll need to tend our garden now; to build a concept of Australia that carries the diversity we now irreversibly have.”

PRECIDENTS

Three weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese in 1941 then Australian PM John Curtin announced that Australia didn’t accept Winston Churchill’s view that the fight against the fascist Axis powers in the Pacific was secondary to the European theatre. It was quite a controversy at the time.

Curtin wanted to bring Australian troops back from the Middle East to defend Australia from possible Japanese invasion. He took on the British Empire dictates of the time and stood his ground and Churchill gave in. By mid- 1942 the Pacific War Council was formed and Australian troops were in New Guinea on the front line against the Japanese. (See Appendix 1)

Over the decades there have also been a number of controversies where Australian and US policies have clashed in the public arena: for example there was the then proposed US base at NW cape (WA) in 1963 ,where the federal ALP opposition split over its siting on Australian soil; the opposition to the Vietnam War in Australia in the 1960’s and early 70’s including the Whitlam federal government period of 1972-75 ,where there was particular opposition expressed about US bombing of Vietnamese cities and public commentary about another US military base on Australian soil, Pine Gap; concern over the possibility of nuclear war between 1980-83 saw the then Hawke government express ‘no participation’ in Reagan’s STAR WARS satellite nuclear shield.

In the recent release (1.1.17) of the 1992-93 Australian government cabinet papers it was revealed the former PM Paul Keating, during a historic meeting with the US president George WH Bush, raised the value of maintaining the Australia-US alliance in the post- Cold War era. It was the first meeting between a US president and Australian PM in Australia since LBJ met Harold Holt in 1967.

The papers spell out that Keating was clearly re-assessing the alliance and the broader Australia-US relationship.

“What is the ongoing validity of the Australia0US alliance?

“Who are we allied against?, asked Keating during the discussions.

It is not a new phenomenon to question and critically review the worthwhile meaning of the Australian – US relationship.

MORE COMMENTARY

It is worth looking at some more of the commentary that flowed in the weeks that followed Trump’s election win.

The recorded views by those in the mainstream capitalist, governing elite should provide an opportunity for individuals and interest groups to take a stand.

Back on the day after the Trump result Phillip Coorey in the AFR (10/11/16) reported under the heading: ‘Turnbull urges US not to turn back on region’,

“The Turnbull government says the alliance with America will stay strong but a regional effort is needed to persuade the Trump administration to keep the US engaged in the Asia-Pacific, both military and economically.

“Amid fears the election of the isolationist and protectionist businessman will harm Australia’s interests, Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and other relevant ministers will seek to engage with the incoming administration as quickly as possible.”

In the Age (11/11/16) journalist Deborah Snow writes in part, under the heading: ‘Don’t write off our alliance yet: experts’:

“Hold on for a wilder ride, but don’t hit the panic button yet. That seems to be the prevailing message coming from defence and security experts.

“ The ANZUS alliance – the cornerstone  of Australian security for the past six decades , will not and should not fray overnight- they say…

“James Brown, research director at the US Studies Centre at Sydney University , says both Australia and the US will be going back to “first principles” on the alliance.

“He believes the US presence in the region will be “less persistent and less predictable”…

“Former defence department head Paul Barratt is more alarmed, saying “there is nothing about Trump that suggests he is good at taking advice’. But rather than ripping up the alliance,  he says, Australia should do a “really deep stocktake of what our vital national interests and what we are prepared to sign up to”.

In its editorial and opinion page ,the AFR of 11.11.16 had a sickly Editorial headed : ‘Reminding US of its best interests’, saying in part:

“ The Australian Greens were quick to demand that Malcolm Turnbull immediately scrap Australia’s push for the TPP trade deal in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning US presidential victory…..

“Labor leader Bill Shorten sought to generate his own political capital from Mr Trump’s surprise victory, slamming trade deals that don’t deliver blue-collar jobs and testing some Australia first slogans..

“ Mr Turnbull clearly hopes US self - interest will stop Mr Trump from unilaterally smashing [ ] alliances …The Pax Americana under which millions had been lifted from poverty in Asia was in America’s national interest too, Mr Turnbull told Mr Trump.”

Trying to tell an incoming US President what and what is not in the US interest is pathetic enough. However the glaring message from the Brexit and Trump win is that it is simply not true that during the last two decades of full blown ‘globalisation’ , ‘millions have been lifted from poverty’ not only in Asia but in the US and UK as well.

The so called ‘trickle down affect’ of global economic growth has always been a myth. All research shows it has in fact made the rich, richer ,the multinationals more powerful and the poor, poorer.

On the same page the AFR’s commentator James Brown further pedalled the newspapers sycophantic desperation. He wrote under the wishful thinking headline : ‘Trump shrugs off isolationist tag’ : “So, it is reassuring to note that Australia’s Prime Minister was able to speak within hours of Donald Trump’s victory to discuss the ongoing importance of a US presence in the Asia Pacific and the endurance of the ANZUS alliance…

“Much of Australia’s recently published Defence White Paper is premised on an activist US alliance network in Asia.”

The next day (12.11.16) the Weekend Australian gave free publicity to the new book –‘PAUL KEATING: The Big Picture Leader”, written by one of their ‘in-house’ journalists Troy Bramston.

Bramston wrote in part:

“ The heart of “the big picture” agenda that he [Keating] promulgated was aimed at encouraging Australians to lift their gaze and to imagine a different future : a nation reconciled with its indigenous inhabitants , severing ties with the monarchy of Britain , and becoming a more independent nation engaging in the Asia Pacific, pursuing its own interests.”

Comparing such a view to Turnbull’s almost ‘crawling’ comments shows there is a need for more public conversation and involvement.

Former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr joins in the fray speculating in a column in the Australian (12.11.16).He writes under a sub-heading; ‘Shared values and common interests mean nothing to the president-elect’:

“Try to find a speech by an Australian politician on the American alliance without reference to shared interests and common values…

“This is the language of alliance romanticism. It fills the heads of Australian prime ministers, staying as guests in [ ] Washington…

“Now for the first time since ANZUS was signed in 1951, our ally has gone rogue. It has elected a president pledged to open a trade war that would send our economy into recession, retreat from free trade everywhere…”

Federal opposition ALP leader Bill Shorten tested the water by suggesting he would ‘run the ruler’ over trade deals and consider pursuing ‘an aggressive Australia-first approach policy’, including revisiting the use of 457 visa workers.(AFR 14.11.16). He also said: “My party will heed the lessons of Detroit, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania…We will buy Australian, build Australian, make in Australia and employ Australians”.

Another former foreign minister Gareth Evans offers up his reflections. He writes (14.11.16) in an opinion piece in the Australian under the heading: ‘Time to cut the ties that bind and focus on building Asian rapport’.

He commented in part:

 “Whether or not US president-elect Donald Trump behaves better once in office than he did on the campaign trail, America’s authority has already taken a battering, not least among its allies and partners in Asia…

“Maintaining security, stability, and prosperity in Asia requires a co-operative environment, in which countries secure their national interests through partnerships –not rivalries- and trade freely with one another…

“ For Australia and other US allies and partners in the region, this presidential election makes it clear that we can no longer-assuming we ever could-take coherent, smart American leadership for granted. We must do more for ourselves and work together more, while relying less on the US…

“This does not mean Australia should walk away from its alliance with the US. But we will need to be more sceptical of American policies and actions than in recent decades .Australia should become more self-consciously independent…”

Age journalist Peter Hartcher cuts to the chase by raising a key element of the US-Australia relationship that has been very controversial over the years. On the 15.11.16 he has a piece published in the paper headed: ‘Secret weapon in kitbag – Top secret Pine Gap remains vital part of America’s front-line defence’. He writes in part:

“An Australian sitting in a big conference in Kanzas City two weeks ago startled the audience with a basic fact. ”Ladies and gentlemen,” Phil Scanlan told hundreds of business, government and university figures at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. “Are you aware that your personal security and your families security is directly related to the presence of certain physical assets in my country, Australia?”

“You could have heard a pin drop in the silence that followed.

“It wasn’t news to a few of the people in the room, intelligence officers from the big US electronic spying operation, the National Security Agency, for instance, and Britain’s equivalent, the GCHQ.

“But it is news to Americans and, indeed, most Australians. The “certain physical assets” is the Pine Gap satellite ground station outside Alice Springs…It is the only essential US asset in Australia that the US could not replace with some other facility in some other place…

“Along with the Kansas City audience, you can be sure Donald Trump has been learning about Pine Gap, too, as part of his education in America’s national security.

“The base, still top secret, was originally so secret that even its existence was unknown outside the innermost circles of the two countries’ security establishments. It was set up in the 1960s, switched on in 1970, but only publicly exposed and explored by the late ANU academic Des Ball, in his 1980 book: ’A  suitable Piece of Real Estate’.

“The title explains a great deal. It is Australia’s geography that makes it the indispensable location for US surveillance of a third of the globe. The base was the subject of protests on the 1980s [and 1970s and 1990s], partly because it was a potential nuclear target for a Soviet nuclear missile in the event that the Cold War turned hot. And partly because, initially, Pine Gap was closed to Australians. Kim Beazley, as defence minister in the Hawke government, renegotiated the base so that it became a “joint facility”…

“As well as standing vigilant for missile launches, Pine Gap has other functions. Edward Snowden exposed it as being a part of big US spying programs. It’s also used for the targeting of American drones as they seek out and kill terrorists and other designated enemies.

“Until the US finds a feasible alternative, Pine Gap is the ultimate assurance the US will not abandon its antipodean alley entirely. But beyond that, everything else in the ANZUS alliance is pretty much discretionary for the Americans…

“[Phil] Scanlan, a businessman and former Australian consul-general to New York, is better known as the founder of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue (AALD)…

“Now that the US has elected a leader who, for the first time, has been prepared to put the US global alliance system into play as a political object, it’s a good time for a deep examination of the alliance. And Australia’s alternatives…

“Australia is poorly prepared; it has invested everything in the alliance and now faces a president with nothing invested in Australia, beyond the bare minimum of Pine Gap”.

It’s a relatively ‘no-holds-barred’, punchy contribution from Hartcher that opens up the debate to central aspects of Australia’s real and subservient relationship with the US, on top of the economic grip of the multinational corporations.

The current ALP foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong is more circumspect. In an opinion piece in the Age (16.11.16) she writes under the heading: ‘Australia must prepare for new US foreign policies’:

 “While it may be too soon to make accurate predictions about what a Trump presidency will mean, there is a very real prospect of a substantial shift in US foreign policy…

“For Labor, the fact that the alliance with the US is central to Australia’s foreign and security policy has never meant we trade away our values-values like respect and equality for women, racial and religious tolerance, and economic and social openness…

“The government should be asking itself the questions that matter right now – how best to maintain our relations with the US and Australia’s place in Asia, and how to adapt to the changing world order…

“Defining and independent foreign policy within an alliance framework is now a more complex task. It is one for which we need to consider a broader range of scenarios than before.”

Ms Wong’s softly, softly approach to even give consideration to a more independent stance for Australia, provoked Turnbull.

In the Australian (17.11.16) journalist Joe Kelly reports on the front page, under the beat up headings: ‘PM seizes on security threat-Labor at odds over US alliance,:

“The bipartisan consensus towards Australia’s 65 year alliance with America is at risk of fracturing after a political row erupted over the strategic response to Donald Trump’s victory in the polarising US presidential race.

“Malcolm Turnbull accused Labor yesterday of using Mr Trump’s win to try to weaken ties with the US and pave the way for an exit from the ANZUS alliance after opposition spokeswoman Penny Wong made the case for a switch in priorities from the US to Asia.

“ The Prime Minister seized on the repositioning to argue that Labor was threatening relations with Australia’s “ strongest, most important, most trusted, enduring ally” and placing national security at risk…

“She pushed for a considered recalibration of Australia’s approach to the alliance, framing the US election result as a historic “change point’ that had the potential to fashion a “very different world and a very different US”.

In an adjacent, separate piece Paul Kelly wrote under the heading: ‘Shorten out to Trump Turnbull,: “The battle in Australia over the US alliance under Donald Trump has now begun. It will become a high-risk project for Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull with a certain loser. The alliance itself has been cast into uncertainty with a distinct break in its bipartisanship”.

A section of big business also weighed into the debate. The Fairfax press gives coverage to one of Australia’s key investors Kerr Neilson. In the AFR (18.11.16), journalists Vesna Poljak and Jonathon Shapiro report:

 “One of Australia’s most renowned investors has branded US President – elect Donald Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again” as “vacuous” and “frightening” in the context of China’s rising economic might.

“This very Western centric take on the world is frightening to me because it is so naïve in the context of the rebalancing of world economic might”, Kerr Neilson, the founder of $23 billion Platinum Asset Management, said of Mr Trump’s jingoistic campaign slogan”.

Conversely Federal ALP MP’s Michael Dandby and Richard Marles were flushed out by the comments of others from within the ALP camp. In the Weekend Australian (19-20.11.16) Joe Kelly gives both politicians a run. Under the heading: ‘ALP’s Dandby chips Wong over US alliance’, he writes:

“Labor backbencher Michael Dandby has taken aim at “China appeasers” and upheld the democratic values Australia has with the US, after his party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman proposed a recalibration of the American alliance towards a deeper engagement with Asia…

“..Mr Dandby told the Weekend Australian he was “unambiguously pro-American “ and argued Australian and US democratic values were enduring and unchanged…

“Labor’s defence spokesman, Richard Marles, said Australia should urge the US to maintain its relationships in Asia. He said there was no difference in position between him and Senator Wong, and government claims of a Labor split was partisan politics”.

It is interesting to see Mr Dandby, a self- confessed US ‘agent of influence’ calling Ms Wong a ‘Chinese appeaser’. At this point China has not displayed war intentions, as Germany did in 1938-39 when appeasement was rampant. China remains our biggest trading partner, with many thousands of Australian businesses dealing with it every day and up to 1.2 million Chinese citizens coming as tourists here every week worth approximately 8 billion dollars per annum. China, in the UN, is assisting the global strategy to tackle Islamic terrorism.

Has Mr Danby been briefed on Chinese hostile intentions that may affect us? In any language an ‘appeaser’ is someone who is aiding a potential or real military threat. Why isn’t Mr Danby calling for an end to Australia – China relations if he perceives or knows of such a threat?

Or he owes Penny Wong an apology.

Somewhere in the debate there must be room for citizens to take a view that is pro-Australia, which doesn’t have them smeared as beholden to any foreign power or economic bloc. That is without having artificial, disingenuous tags being foisted upon them.

By Wed 23.11.16 the Australian, under the sub-heading: ‘American Revolution’ and main heading: ‘Trump spells out ‘US first’ plan’ reprints a Reuters story that reports:

“Donald Trump has outlined plans for his first day as US president, including withdrawing from a major trade accord and investigating abuses of work visa programs…

“Mr Trump…issued a video yesterday outlining some of his plans…including declaring his intent to withdraw from the TPP trade deal, which he called “a potential disaster for our country”…

“The president-elect said he would replace the accord with bi-laterally negotiated trade deals that would “bring jobs and industry back on American shores”.

The Trump ‘US First’ approach versus the Obama ‘international free trade‘ approach is, in reality, a shallow comparison in how the US imperial, global reach will play out economically and militarily into the future. There will be no fundamental shift in substance, only a semantic one. The multinationals and big business in general will go where they need to, to get their resources, raw materials and the cheapest labour. They will adapt to the rhetoric in their Public Relations announcements. In fact as Trump announced his pro -business, ex -military personnel nominations for his new cabinet for 2017 the message that the usual US imperialist global profile was ‘going nowhere’, seeped out through the back slapping.

The creation of hundreds of thousands of new, worthwhile jobs for US workers is predicated on the same principle; if we promote the interests of big business and especially give them tax cuts, then jobs will automatically follow. This claim is ‘old hat’ and already proven worldwide to be false. Witness Brexit, the Trump ascendancy and Turnbull’s ‘Jobs and Growth’ mantra, that led many people to hope to find relief via the ballot box.

In its supplement ‘Perspective’, the AFR of the 22.12.16 published an article by Andrew Clark. The over dramatic headline was: ‘Portents of a dark age…New World order…Global Change...As political order unravels around the globe, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sees new alliances and a stronger role for Australia.’

Bishop is quoted as saying:

 “The US and China both recognise there is too much at stake for it (international trade) not to work”. Clark reports: “At this point, what commentators are branding Australia’s Plan B foreign policy comes into play. The Malcolm Turnbull- led government is pushing hard to create a fall-back buffer against nascent US – China tensions by cultivating closer ties with Asian states such as Japan, Indonesia, India and Singapore.”

“All of those relations have been recently strengthened under the Coalition government”, claimed Bishop.

Within the ‘Perspective’ piece journalist John Kehoe provided a breakout story headed: “New era of uncertainty…Donald Trump’s administration is already undermining decades of stability’.

Two days later the Weekend Australian (24-25 Dec, 2016) runs a story by Paul Kelly based on an exclusive interview with Paul Keating. Under the headings: ‘we must heed shift in US-China power balance: Keating’ and ‘Australia must recognise American hegemony in Asia is unsustainable’, he writes in part:

“In an exclusive interview with Inquirer, Keating says: “The US cannot remain No 1; it will not remain No 1. The US must recognise that stability in Asia can no longer be imposed by a non-Asian power, least of all by the direct application of US military power”.

“Keating argues that Australian leaders are imprisoned in a mentality that no longer reflects the world as it existed or the world that is emerging in the 21st century…

“The transformation in global power and US strategic blunders pre-date Trump’s arrival by many years.

“He says the US, through Obama’s announced military pivot to East Asia as backed by Australia, has embarked on a strategy that cannot succeed…

“The whole point of the pivot is to maintain the US position…

“He believes that Australia, by tying itself to this US position, risks making a disastrous mistake…

“Keating says he hopes Australia will be able to rethink its strategic position, but adds: “Whether Malcolm Turnbull could do the rethink or colleagues in the Labor Party  is an altogether different point”…

“Keating laments what he terms the “diminishing” state of Australia’s influence”.

It is worthwhile giving some consideration to Keating’s views carefully. While his analysis has more substance than many other former and current politicians, his elitist posturing, some of his business connections and lack of recognition of the many struggles of ordinary Australians over decades for a more independent nation, need to be noted.

By the beginning of 2017 the media debate got down to more basics.

In the AFR of the 3.1.17 journalist John Kehoe from Washington reports under the headings: ‘Withdrawing the legions is more costly than staying’ and ‘Trump’s global retreat may prove impractical, but even the discussion is the sign of a vacuum in US public debate on foreign policy’:

“Donald Trump’s populist campaign threat to retreat from security alliances in Asia and Europe is likely to be mugged by financial reality…

“Australia contributes [ ] to host US marines in Darwin and other US intelligence assets Down Under. Yet the US is undoubtedly a big beneficiary of gaining access so close to South East Asia…

“America’s deployment of troops overseas and international trade agreements are inextricably linked to US defence firms attaining access to foreign markets.

Kehoe in the article pedals the often common line by many conservative commentators that “America’s rules-based order’ since WW2 is now uncertain under Trump.                                                                    

This is a disingenuous claim to say the least. The only rule the US has adhered to since 1945 was the ‘US way or no way’. Many struggles for national independence in the 1950s, 60s and 70s  suffered  overt or covert war, subversion, political and economic interference and the imposition of dictatorships orchestrated by the US ( e.g.  Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, most of Latin America, most of South America, many parts of the African continent and of course the Middle East). Millions died.

Joe Kelly reports an ’exclusive’ in the Australian on the 4.1.17. It is headed :’Trump advisor to reshape alliance’ and it concerned an opinion piece written by Professor Peter Leahy director of Canberra University’s National Security Institute (and formerly Australia’s army chief) that comments on Trump’s proposed National Security Advisor  General Michael Flynn.

Kelly writes: “Professor Leahy says [our] policy makers will be forced to embark on a major rethink of Australia’s strategic priorities and “review our national interests and our alignment with US policies and actions”, given the likely direction of a Trump administration”.

This advice is clearly at odds with PM Turnbull’s lockstep all the way with the US utterances to date. He hopes, fingers crossed, nothing will change.

SOME REACTIONS

In the Age of 18.11.16, under the headline:’We can’t allow the Trumpification of our politics’, former Liberal Party leader John Hewson writes in

part :

“Why is so much of our life dominated by America, from fast food to the immediate release of the latest TV program, to the latest Kardashian excess? It seems we have a massive national insecurity and sense of inferiority-if it is “good’ for America, it must be “good” for Australia. The 51st state.

“In politics we have seen the worst of it lately as some of our political leaders have sought to draw on, and emulate, elements of the Donald Trump victory”.

Paul Keating’s recent ‘cut the tag’ commentary and Penny Wong’s call for a ‘re-consideration’ of Australia’s foreign policy stance, flushed out conservative Australian newspaper columnist Gerard Henderson who, under the long – winded heading ;’Needless statements bringing into question the US alliance are simply stirring the possum’ (19.11.16) attacked both Keating’s patriotic flavoured suggestion and Wong’s carefully crafted thought bubble, writing in part: “ Contrary to Keating’s claims, there is no evidence Australia is in a state of “subordination” to the US. Since the creation of the ANZUS Treaty in 1951, successive Australian governments have regarded the alliance as an agreement that is in Australia’s national interest”.

 So ingrained as an ‘agent of influence’ for US interests for decades Mr Henderson went into defensive ‘auto-pilot’ mode.

On the 24.11.16 the AFR publishes two articles under the headings:’ Houston slams critics of US alliance’ and ‘Taking on the ANZUS doubters’. Former Chief of the Australian Defence Force Angus Houston says:

“Australian and US military forces have worked together for almost a century…In 1942, US power saved Australia in the blackest period of our history. A strategic victory at the battle of the Coral Sea removed the direct threat to Australia…

“In more recent times, we have seen the US “pivot’ to Asia, announced by President Obama in Canberra in 2011 and intended to signal that the US was rebalancing its diplomatic and military forces towards the Asia-Pacific…

“As for Australia’s role, we should begin by cutting the talk about recalibrating the alliance...”

Mr Houston firstly gives no recognition to the contribution of the Curtin government in insisting on the return of the diggers back to defend the Kokoda Track in New Guinea and secondly Australia and the US were part of a global anti-fascist fight in WW11 .The Battle of the Coral Sea was part of that crucial world struggle. It didn’t give an automatic right for the US to claim an IOU on Australia’s national status forever.

Houston has been embedded in the US machine for a long time. He knows nothing else.

The next day (Fri 25.11.16) the Age runs an article by Fergus Hunter under the headline: ‘US ties must be maintained, says defence official’. He writes: “In a speech …on Wednesday night, his first comments since the shock victory of Donald Trump, Department of Defence Secretary Dennis Richardson said:

“…the alliance cannot be taken for granted.

“Those who believe in it must be prepared to engage in the public debate and to make the case”.

“The remarks from Mr Richardson-who will vacate the role next year after a decades long career in the public service-follow high-profile calls from left-wing politicians for re-assessment and even abandonment of the alliance...

“A respected veteran of the public service, Mr Richardson previously served as director-general of ASIO, ambassador to the US  and secretary of the Department of foreign affairs and trade.”

Richardson is another embedded bureaucrat steeped in CIA and US military culture. At least he conceded a ‘‘public debate” should be embarked upon.

And Hunter is quite misleading about his description of some of those who have floated a self-respecting review of the Australian-US relationship. Many are far from fitting the description of being “left-wing”.

In the AFR of the Wed 14.12.16 former ALP leader and ambassador to the US Kim Beazley tries to quell any wider discussion of the US-Australia relationship. Under the heading: ‘Beazley calls for Turnbull to act on Trump’, reporter Patrick Durkin writes: “Former Australian ambassador to the US Kim Beazley warns that former PM Paul Keating is “completely wrong” in calling to “cut the tag” with the US and has urged the Turnbull government to “lobby” the Trump administration as it fills “real gaps” to protect our interests in Asia. 

“Paul [Keating] is right off the beam when it comes to describing these [global] relationships”, Mr Beazley told a private briefing at law firm Lander & Rogers on Monday”.

 In these reactions, no one acknowledged that it has been commentary coming out of the Trump camp in the first place that has evoked much of the speculation about the future of the status of the alliance.

WHERE TO FROM HERE? THE WIDER ENVIRONMENT

At the end of 2016 The Age (21.12.16) published extracts from the ANU 12th Australian Election Study. It showed Australians level of satisfaction with national government had collapsed to its lowest level since the Whitlam dismissal” (Nov 1975). The study’s major surveys showed “the country in a distrustful mood”.

One key finding was “Just 12% of Australians believe government is run for all the people, the equal – lowest on record. A striking 56% of people think government is run for a few big interests, a dramatic increase on 38% in 2007”.

The AFR of 2.12.16 republished a major article from Der Spiegel Headlined: ‘Turning Point – World Order – Resistance to globalisation is growing in the West…’ the article by key staff writers bluntly stated:

“Now, in 2016, many people in Western countries are worried about losing their jobs, their prosperity and that of their children. They see themselves as the losers of a development that only helped the elite.

“The belief that politics doesn’t serve the body politic and that the economy doesn’t serve the people has taken firm hold. That only corporations and the rich profit. And that globalisation …is to blame for it all”.

The AFR Review of 22-27 Dec 2016 published an article by Francis Fukuyama dramatically entitled: ‘The coming collapse of America – inequality and self- interest are changing public life. The consequences could be as big as the collapse of the Soviet Union’.

Fukuyama makes some sharp observations:

“The triumph of the Trump brand of nationalism is arguably of a piece with authoritarianism advances in disparate countries, from Rep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey to Viktor Orban’s Hungary…

“Throughout the developed world, the banking crisis of 2008 called into question the authority of elites who had created this highly risky system…

“More serious even than the failure of the western economy was the sense of burning injustice that grew in its wake. The public saw all those moneyed institutions and individuals who had been running the system being bailed out, then poor and middling sorts being handed the bill in the form of austerity policies and unemployment”.

The myth of the ‘trickle down affect’ now being more admitted to.

Meanwhile in Britain incoming PM Theresa May began her stint as leader by trying to stay ahead of the pressures arising from the Brexit vote. Like Trump and Turnbull she has to determine an agenda that will placate the working and middle classes. From the first week of the New Year May has been trying to sell her new social reform agenda that in words at least is a reversal long term Toryism!

The Age of 9.1.17 reprinted a Sunday Times article by Ben Riley-Smith .

The British journalist, observed under the unexpected headline: ‘May upends Thatcher’s view of society’:

“PM Theresa May is setting out her vision for “the shared society”, declaring that government has a duty to intervene and correct “burning injustices” in modern Britain.

“Mrs May says the government should not just “get out of the way” and insists there is “more to life than individualism and self-interest”…

“Former PM David Cameron’s “big society”, which focused on getting charities to help tackle inequality, and Margaret Thatcher’s claim that there was “no such thing as society”, are both rejected. In its place, the British PM outlines an unashamed pitch for why governments should intervene in markets that are not giving consumers the best deal”.

No defence of the ‘trickle down affect’ here either!

There is no escaping the elephant in the room-what now globalisation?

In the Australian 7.1.17 journalist Peter Holmes A Court writes a preview piece, leading up to the Davos World Economic Forum set down for later in the month.

He writes in part, under the heading: ‘Future of globalisation the biggest challenge for leaders at Davos’:

“What the event tries to do is shape the global conversation about the direction of our world.

And right now there is no bigger geopolitical nor economic stoush than the future of globalisation…

“Five years ago, at the 2012 Davos, the forum’s boss Klaus Schwab…opened the conference by saying: “We have sinned”…the “we” he was referring to are those with the ability to affect the direction of the world, and the “sin” was leaving most of the world out of the benefits of globalisation…

“Schwab has been warning the business and political community about the consequences of a collapse in support for globalisation…In one piece he published 20 years ago, he said “public opinion in the industrial democracies will no longer be satisfied with articles of faith about virtues and future benefits of the global economy. It is pressing for action. He was right…”

By Trump’s Inauguration Day the Davos WEF was in full swing with reports coming out saying that ‘economic inequality has ranked as one of the most discussed issues…’

A report by the AFR’s Peter Goodman, under the heading: ‘Davos debate divorced from reality’ states in part:

“They are eager to talk about how to set things right, soothing the populist fury by making globalisation a more lucrative proposition for the masses. Myriad panel discussions are focused on finding the best way to “reform capitalism”, make globalisation work and revive the middle class.

“What is striking is what is generally not discussed: bolstering the power of workers to bargain for better wages and redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom”.

SUMMARY

It should be reiterated the media commentary referred to is only to aid and as a guide, to stimulate a more in depth conversation within our citizenship. We are entitled to map out a more patriotic, working peoples agenda for Australia. It is too an important issue to leave to the whim of the new power elite in Washington or the often compromised politicians and bureaucrats in Canberra.

Clearly there is much deliberations behind the scenes, in many parts of government, the military, intelligence agencies, corporate boardrooms and the monopoly media around Australia.

To promote a genuine independent and honourable way forward for Australia, Australians from all walks of life must grasp the wider, global economic and political forces that are buffeting our day to day lives.

There is a heightened opportunity in 2017 and beyond to prosecute a more progressive, independent agenda for our great country. The struggles of the past dovetail into the present and provide lessons for seizing any initiative a political vacuum, such as shocks in the imperial world order, may provide.

Public meetings, protests and mobilisations around further negative impacts and outcomes against Australia’s interests are legitimate and worthwhile activities.

Countless thousands of Australians have campaigned for years, on many levels, over many issues that have gone to the question of our sovereignty and self-respect.

Our indigenous peoples have conducted countless struggles since colonialization for self-determination, social justice, land rights, righting the stolen generation imposition, recouping lost wages and achieving proper citizenship recognition.

Our union movement has fought an endless campaign for respect for labour, decent wages and working conditions, non- participation in colonial and imperial wars (e.g. WW 1, Vietnam War, Iraq invasion), and given support to our Aboriginal original inhabitants, and numerous national independence struggles like South Africa, East Timor and French Polynesia.

Australians have campaigned for decades against the threat of nuclear war and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This struggle includes the important sub-set of opposing the one sided treaties that see secret US bases like Pine Gap and NW Cape, remaining on Australian soil.

Environmental degradation, much of it resulting from corporate plunder of our natural resources, including the land, rivers and oceans around our island continent, continues to mobilise many ordinary, concerned Australians.

Building more support for the inevitable move to cut the out of date ties to the British monarchy and declaring a republic is unfinished business.

The repatriation of billions of dollars profit to off-shore tax havens by multinationals is of great concern and an ongoing scandal not receiving enough attention by all sides in the national parliament.

And there was always widespread opposition to the one-sided TPP, despite the spin of many politicians.(See Appendix 2)

2017 provides emerging scenarios where all of these persistent national blights can be coalesced into a focused, national blueprint.

We shouldn’t leave such important matters to the established elite to ponder then inevitably come down with ‘quick fix’, compromised and even ‘sell-out’ solutions.

We should reject, for example, the musings of former Australian PM Kevin Rudd, who came back briefly from his global wanderings at the end of 2016. Appearing on the ABC’s ‘7 30 Report’ on Wed 21.12.16 he waxed lyrical about the troubled global situation in general and the Trump victory in particular. He proposed that ‘we’-i.e. the government- should negotiate a “social contract…under democratic capitalism”, in order to assuage the grumbling world citizens.

Interviewer Leigh Sales sought more details but none were forthcoming.

Of course Australian workers have seen such a concept before. The Accords of 1983 – 96, involving the ACTU and federal ALP governments were such an experiment. Wages were curtailed in exchange for an expanded social wage, especially the universal introduction of industry superannuation. It turned out to be a much flawed exercise. (See Appendix 3)

The initial reaction to the Trump presidency is quite inspiring .The huge protests around his inauguration, in the US, many parts of the world and in key Australian cities shows people power is alive and well. The uncertainty generated by Trump’s pre and post- election running commentaries are naturally creating angst about social stability and even worry about military adventurism.

Australians need to speak out and take a stand for our national interest. Self - respect demands it.

* * * *

APPENDICES

#Appendix 1

More Background Information

PM CURTIN 1941

Selected extracts from an article: ‘Curtin’s new year message put case for Australia first’ by Troy Bramston in the Weekend Australian, Dec31 2016:

“On Dec 27, 1941 – 75 years ago this week- prime minister John Curtin’s New Year message was published in the Melbourne Herald amid the darkening days of World War II. It signalled a shift in strategic thinking…

“In the message, titled “The Task Ahead”, Curtin argued that Australia would not accept “that the Pacific struggle must be treated as a subordinate segment of the general conflict” [against the fascist Axis powers of Germany, Japan and Italy] and called for Australia and the US to have “the fullest say”, together, in the fighting plan for the escalating “Pacific struggle”.

“Just weeks earlier, on Dec 7, the Japanese had bombed the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour. This seismic event heralded the beginning of the Pacific war.

“We are face-to-face with the struggle for sheer existence,” Curtin said the following day…

“Drafted by Curtin’s press secretary Don Rodgers, the New Year’s message sparked a political firestorm at home and aboard. Curtin was accused by his political opponents Robert Menzies and Billy Hughes of turning his back on Britain. British PM Winston Churchill thought it was ungrateful, impudent…

“But Curtin’s statement was clever and calculated. He wanted to galvanise Australians to the threat posed by the Japanese…

“While Churchill and Roosevelt focused on the war in Europe, Curtin feared a Japanese invasion of Australia…By mid-1942, the Japanese had taken Hong Kong, Singapore and The Philippines. Soon the Japanese were in New Guinea…

“In early 1942, Churchill ignored Curtin’s plea to bring the Australian 6th and 7th divisions home from the Middle East…”Curtin again urged the troops to return to Australia, and was again rebuffed. In the end, Curtin stood his ground and Churchill buckled…

“While the creation of the Pacific War Council in 1942 gave Curtin the bigger say in war planning, it was often ignored in subsequent years. But Curtin, like external affairs minister “Doc” Evatt, was undeterred. Again, protests were made to Roosevelt and Churchill. And in 1944 Australia formed its own pact with New Zealand, partly targeted at US designs in the post-war Pacific. This did not go down well in Washington.

“The point is that Curtin would not allow Australia to be bullied. He wanted Australia to be taken seriously as an alliance partner. While Australia needed the US, Curtin knew the US also needed Australia as a base in the south-west Pacific…

“Curtin’s statement tilted Australia’s foreign policy towards a more independent outlook that emphasised self-interest rather than subservience to a great power…

“The real importance of Curtin’s New Year’s message 75 years ago is that it reorientated Australia’s foreign policy thinking to put its own interests first.”

#Appendix 2

More Background Information

THE TPP

Selected extracts from an article: ‘Trump trade war baloney’, by Alan Kohler in the Australian, 31st Jan 2017.

“It’s probably a big mistake to think that US President Donald Trump will cause global trade to freeze up…

“But what’s usually missed, or ignored, about President Trump’s  January 23 memorandum pulling the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is that it was a surgical withdrawal from one deal only, and that Trump used it to make a generally pro-trade statement…

“It’s just that he won’t do multilateral trade agreements anymore, only bilateral ones…

“This is hardly revolutionary. Ever since the Doha Round of GATT was killed in 2008, mainly by the US over agriculture and pharmaceuticals, the TPP has been the last hope for multilateral deal-making…

“The irony, of course, is that the US was not only behind the TPP and multilateral trade in general, as an architect of the WHO  and GATT, but has also been the driver and main beneficiary of globalisation…

“Globalisation, combined with the US dollar reserve currency status, has ensured that America’s economic hegemony is virtually absolute.

“With the TPP, the US led the negotiations and shaped the deal, so that it reflected US priorities on a wide range of issues. In particular it gave US firms wide-ranging rights to invest in the countries that signed it, and to sue their governments over any sovereign decisions that cost them money.

“It is, in short, a pro-American deal. But during the US election, the TPP became a convenient symbol for the supposed role of trade and globalisation in the destruction of US jobs.

“Which was nonsense; the main culprit has been technology- also driven by the US as it happens.”

#Appendix 3

More Background Commentary

SUPERANNUATION/SOCIAL WAGE EXPERIMENT 1983-96

Fast forward to 2017 and the vast majority of millions of workers with superannuation have no-where near enough in their accounts to sustain them in retirement, as promised.

The generation of  20th century workers, who universally went without traditional incremental wage and salary increases, saw the Accord experiment not deliver fully on the other side of the ledger, especially with respect to industry superannuation.

By 1996 the Conservative Howard government axed the necessary increases to the superannuation guarantee scheme needed to keep accounts growing at the rate required.

When the Federal ALP returned to government in 2007, the Rudd administration was lobbied by the ACTU to lift the superannuation contributions to a more sustainable, fairer rate. It was a modest, but not even a full catch-up proposal. Rudd said the economy couldn’t afford it. Very small increments to be introduced over a long period, were all that was put forward.

But even this small advance was thwarted by the Abbott government of 2013, leaving the super guarantee languishing at only 9.5% (It should have moved to at least 15% years earlier.)

The pressure on our ageing population was dramatically increased further with the 2016 federal budget cutting back the already minimalist pension safety net.

The fiscal policies of successive federal governments have essentially sabotaged the original 1983-96 social contract.

In addition it has been revealed that the ATO, officially responsible for chasing up poor compliance over the years, allowed employers to illegally dodge up to 3.6 billion dollars of super contributions to be made to the nation’s retirement savings pool! In contrast the ATO is assisting another federal watchdog agency vigorously chasing down money laundering activities involving over $3 billion in suspicious transfers by Chinese investors in 2016. Nearly 6000 “suspect matter reports” are being investigated.

To add salt to the wound in Jan 2017 the Turnbull federal government announced a policy of “workers must come first” with respect to the superannuation industry. In turned out this wasn’t legislation to assist in recouping the billions of dollars of lost contributions or even make sure all legally due super contributions would be collected into the future.

No the federal government’s Financial Services minister simply wanted to impose who could be on the boards of super schemes!

The new rules could have insisted that current employer representatives on such boards should carry out their fiduciary responsibilities to ensure employers pay in all legally required amounts into their employees’ super accounts. Such regulations are needed to enforce compulsory super payments, especially from unscrupulous bosses, sham contractors and ‘cash economy’ businesses.

Where’s the argument, never mind incentive, for a new ‘social contract’?

Parent Category: Spirit Content