Australia’s timidness blocks Alliance expansion


Australia’s timidity blocks Alliance expansion

            Hillary Clinton at Ausmin conference in Perth

 The annual Ausmin meeting between the US and Australia has concluded in Perth with the timid Gillard government frozen with fear at getting the Chinese nose out of joint. China, and Australia’s refusal to fund a defence force were the elephants in the room blocking more robust progress towards a credible South Pacific Alliance.

 Australia meekly rubber-stamps China’s massive spending on aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, ballistic missiles, and backfire bombers with a dismissive comment saying this is what big powers do.

Yet when the Coalition should be matching this expansion ship for ship and plane for plane our government gets the shakes at even allowing 250 US marines to train in the Northern Territory for six months in case China should be offended.

What sort of a Coalition partner are we when we psychotically refuse to maintain a modern high technology defence force and at the same time refuse to cooperate with our ally who wishes to fill these glaring gaps in our defence, all through the dread of China.

If China has the right to arm and actually does arm to the teeth, then it behoves any responsible government to do likewise in defence of our nation.

For some time the US has been interested in some form of a joint naval base at HMAS Sterling in Western Australia where they could base an aircraft carrier battle group and nuclear submarines for quick access to the Indian Ocean or South East Asia. Australian intransience is blocking progress being made towards this positive development anytime soon.

The US saved this nation from oblivion in WW2 by turning around the invasion fleets and have been a generous ally ever since. They backed us in East Timor, held back the communists in the cold war from ravaging Asia and selflessly have donated blood and treasure throughout the world to promote peace and prosperity.

They have run defence spending at 4-5% of GDP for the last 70 years which enabled them to achieve these goals and in that period Australia has shamelessly freeloaded on the US bigheartedness by cutting our defence spending to 1.5-2% of GDP.

Rather than stonewalling the US, Australia should give something back by encouraging the US presence as a solid plank in the Alliances structure. Because we refuse to maintain a modern defence force we have little else to offer. We should fund the expansion of the base as an investment in the future and have the US supply the technology and maintenance facilities that could be used by our ships as well.

Part of the deal would be 10 Australian nuclear attack submarines serviced and maintained at HMAS Sterling under US supervision alongside the servicing of US submarines.

The idea would be to become capable of maintaining a high technology naval force whilst expanding our ships into a tight battle fleet with air cover and missile protection.

As Australia increased its naval assets over time for the protection of our shores and sea space, the US could move some of their forces to other more troublesome hotspot areas.

Australia should grasp these opportunities for us to grow into high technology defence equipment now as any delay only gives the impression that we are not fair dinkum about maintaining our end of the Alliance and as well the US may scrap the idea and make alternative arrangements.

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