Sink or swim for AUKUS agreement as US senators speak out

By: Robert Dougherty

The AUKUS agreement to bring nuclear-powered submarines to Australian shores is pulling the nation between two very different short and long-term strategic goals, according to an Australian strategic defence expert.

The three-party security pact between Australia, the UK, and the US is currently walking a tightrope between upgrading the Australian military capability and the immediate operational goal to get nuclear submarines as soon as possible, said John Blaxland, professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

The trilateral security partnership was announced by US President Joe Biden, then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison in September 2021. Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles recently travelled to the United States for an AUKUS Defence Ministers meeting in December last year.

The agreement surfaced earlier this month with information that US Democratic Senator Jack Reed and Republican Senator James Inhofe have advised US President Joe Biden against plans to sell or transfer Virginia Class submarines to Australia ahead of the US Navy requirements.

AUKUS will need to be reconsidered “to avoid stressing the US submarine industrial base to the breaking point” and “turning into a zero-sum game for scarce, highly advanced (technology)”, wrote the two senators in the December 21 letter published by US website Breaking Defence on 5 January.

“There are some harsh realities. The US nuclear submarine baseline is at capacity and it’s not unreasonable for them to safeguard their own interests,” Professor Blaxland said.

“There’s an understandable nervousness of Australia to pick up the economic baton and not be an economic liability, as opposed to a net asset.

Beyond submarines, the long-term features of the agreement also include Australia acquiring long-range strike capabilities with Tomahawk cruise missiles to be fielded from Hobart Class destroyers, joint air-to-surface standoff missiles and long-range anti-ship missiles, collaboration on hypersonic missiles, precision strike guided missiles for land forces and accelerating $1 billion for a sovereign guided weapons manufacturing enterprise.

“AUKUS is more than submarine propulsion, it’s about resilience, hypersonic, AI and an advanced defence industry in Australia. To potentially be a bigger player in that space and our ability to contribute to the US and coalition resources,” Professor Blaxland said.

“In the past, we have had stop-and-start defence investments and we have had support from government for defence-related industries.

“It seems now that we have reasonable bipartisan support for a significant investment in muscling up the Australian defence industry in support of a more self-reliant defence position.”

Professor Blaxland said as China’s economic power continues to grow and tensions across the Taiwan Strait continue deteriorating, Australia’s defence capability could influence the region.

“AUKUS is more than just Taiwan, it has a bigger picture. Taiwan is the touchstone of China asserting expansionist behaviour into the Indian Ocean, South Pacific and South-East Asia,” he said.

“If Australia wants to have a deterrent effect on Chinese behaviour or contribute to a coalition deterrent effect, it will need bolstered capabilities.

“Countries right across Timor, New Guinea and Solomon Islands are doing their own calculations for their national interests and if Australia does not have something substantial to offer, then they will look elsewhere.

“That substantial offering would include robust military capabilities that have range, endurance and survivability.”

 

A few thoughts on AUSTRALIA DAY.

From Brian Vickery

Australia Day

Hooray, Hooray, Australia Day.

it’s far more than just a holiday,

some have far too much to say,

wishing for the government to pay,

for an imagined invasion affray,

their aim to convert the gullible, eh.

Wisely the wise are not prepared to play,

however, the woke still wish to pray,

for their drive to change the world,

and not salute the flag unfurled,

by confusing the public about the date,

and denouncing the unique term ‘Mate’.

Stand tall, feel proud, fellow Aussie,

get out there with your mates in your Aussie cossie,

light up the barbecue, throw on the lamb,

welcome your brothers/sisters – all join the jam,

kind thoughts, Aussie flag and beers your only memory,

and let’s keep the date of the 26th of January.

 

First-ever Australian Veterans’ Brain Bank announced in NSW

25 January 2023

A new research initiative will use the brains of late veterans to help with diagnosis and treatment of brain disease in a first for Australia.

A NSW Government initiative, the Australian Veterans’ Brain Bank is a collaboration between the National Centre for Veterans’ Healthcare and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Neuropathology Department based at Concord Hospital in Sydney’s inner west.

It will focus on understanding the long-term effects on the brain for soldiers who have been exposed to multiple blast injuries and other head knocks throughout their careers. This includes IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and artillery or rockets, together with other areas such as training and participation in sporting activities.

The NSW Health Minister said the Brain Bank will be able to provide more accurate diagnoses for loved ones of late veterans who have pledged their brains to research and improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain disease during life.

Learning about the impacts of brain trauma and injury will increase awareness of the potential impacts of blast injuries. It will also be invaluable for healthcare workers when supporting veterans in the future.

Veteran Damien Thomlinson is one of the first Australian veterans to pledge his brain to the Australian Veterans’ Brain Bank. He was severely injured in Afghanistan through a blast injury after serving for eight years in the Australian Special Forces.

“[I’m happy] to donate my brain so that we can see what the impact of being so close to a large explosion is. And hopefully we can connect the dots in the future and make sure that other people are prepared for the damage that may be caused and we can also isolate ways to treat and prevent injury moving forward,” he said.

For more information or to register for brain donation, please visit Veterans’ Brain Bank

 

US Stryker Has ATTACKED Russian Troops in Ukraine

We can see the power of military technology on full display in Ukraine with the arrival of the 105-mm, self-propelled M1128 Stryker guns that the United States sent over in their latest aid package.

As soon as the Stryker was in the hands of the military, it immediately gained fame and recognition! It happened in the eastern portion of the country, in the Bakhmut region between the villages of Opytne and Ivangrad, where the enemy was trying to launch an offensive. Most of the allied troops at the time had abandoned their position in advance at the captain’s command. However, a small detachment stayed behind, including infantry, a large-caliber howitzer, and one M1128 vehicle.

To everyone’s surprise, the enemy suddenly went on the attack, but they didn’t know there was a Stryker.

Conflict often results from energy insecurity

By: Christopher Skinner

Opinion: With growing concerns about the slow collapse of globalisation and the “just-in-time” system of commodity and product delivery, questions have been raised about Australia’s dependence on foreign liquid energy supplies and its impact on national security in an era of increased geostrategic competition, writes former naval officer and defence industry analyst Christopher Skinner.

Once again, Greg Sheridan writing in The Weekend Australian has captured the quintessential threat to Australia’s future in his article “Is this the end of globalisation?”

The essential answer to that question is not purely about the economic and trading architecture but also about the possible tensions that are plausible from which conflict may arise.

Sheridan cites “four huge historic dynamics driving the world away from globalisation: These are: China; Russia’s war in Ukraine; COVID; and the energy crisis in Western societies brought about by attempting rapid decarbonisation”.

This op-ed is about the latter issue of energy as a global challenge that must be considered in any review of defence or national security and must be addressed in the Australian government’s response to the imminent report of the Defence Strategic Review.

There are broadly several current trends acknowledged for national security including cyber and information warfare; widespread use of uncrewed vehicles or drones; space-based intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance, command and control and more general communications; precision cruise and ballistic guided weapons; more generally distributed lethality and multiplicated supply chains; and above all else, the dependence on sources of energy for operation of a multitude of services and assets.

From the industrial revolution up to the end of the 20th century, the traditional energy sources were fossil fuels of wood, coal, oil, and gas; derived energy in the form of thermal energy to produce steam, or internal combustion of processed fossil fuel with natural oxygen; from which motive power or electric energy were then derived. Renewable energy was originally hydro and more recently wind and solar-powered electric generation and thence battery storage to cover intermittent operation.

Within the latter half of last century, nuclear energy was harnessed for propulsion as well as for electric generation for civil industry and domestic use. Now Australia has grasped this nettle for submarine propulsion through the AUKUS agreement that overtook the previous constraint of no nuclear power industry due to short-sighted legislative bans arising from knee-jerk reactions to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, reinforced by the later Fukushima accident.

So what has all that to do with national security? Well, energy supply is one of the major strategic imperatives in major wars in the past, noting in World War II the German thrust into Soviet territory to reach the Black Sea oil fields, and the similar Japanese thrust into the then Dutch East Indies to access the Sumatran oil fields. Today’ focus on the Middle East reflects similar motivation.

Australia’s Defence Force operates a multitude of military vehicles, almost all of which continue to run on fuels derived from imported oil, of which there is an alarmingly small reserve in country. And yet, Australia is a net exporter of vast quantities of fossil fuels, namely coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG), which are unsuitable as fuel for the ADF. The biggest concern is that there is no sign of any

The Defence Innovation Network (DIN), a consortium of seven NSW universities with the ANU, recently issued a call for problems in Australia’s defence that are proposed for DIN attention. Surely the conversion of ADF vehicles to run on LNG would be a very high priority?

Better still, why not go the full step to develop non-fossil fuels based on hydrogen or ammonia, a compound of hydrogen and nitrogen, which would have export potential for commercial use as well as for military vehicles. There was recently a report of underground hydrogen gas being readily available in South Australia under Kangaroo Island and Yorke Peninsula. Hydrogen fuel for industry and the ADF is an inevitable step in the future so we need to start on this now.

Nuclear energy is a complex domain requiring a highly skilled workforce and infrastructure that we will build up for the AUKUS submarines and may then apply to other nuclear power applications as other countries are finding that renewables are incapable of meeting the full scope of electric power demand.

As a footnote, another article this weekend in the AFR stated that the reluctance of USA to supply M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine was partly due to them requiring aviation standard fuel and that required a sophisticated tactical logistic support network to keep them running. So it wasn’t just about the tanks, it was also an energy supply challenge.

Lesson for Australia — what happens when our oil supply is interrupted?

 

Reporting the death of a veteran or DVA client

For those dealing with the death of a veteran, or for veterans nearing end of life, there are a number of important steps to follow.

When a veteran dies, it is important that DVA is notified in a timely manner. This will ensure entitlements for the veteran if they are a DVA client, their surviving partner and dependents are processed quickly. This early notification also reduces the likelihood of incurring an overpayment of benefits.

For veterans nearing end of life, there are some steps to make it easier for family and loved ones. Getting personal affairs in order and providing important personal information to family members can make it easier for loved ones to manage at a difficult time. A Planning Ahead Kit may help you and is at https://www.dva.gov.au/documents-and-publications/planning-ahead-kit

Upon the death of a loved one, veteran families, executors or other responsible persons are asked to call the Veterans Access Network on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) or email [email protected]

For free mental health support and resources, Open Arms is available to veterans and their immediate families. Call them 24/7 on 1800 011 046 or visit the Open Arms website – www.openarms.gov.au

**********************

ED: Reporting to the DVA is very important, once that is done please report all deaths and or funeral arrangements to me so that the veteran’s mates are advised. Please email me at [email protected]

Thanks

Ray

Interesting…from one of the “MOB”

PHOTO: Greens Lidia Thorpe leading Melbourne Australia Day demonstration.

Kerry White makes more sense than the rubbish from MPs.  Always go to the source as they know what they are talking about. Watch the video for another view.

Interesting…from one of the “MOB”

The following article is by Steven Tripp, Spectator Australia, 13 December 2022

Recently, I sat down to interview an Aboriginal Elder from South Australia for the ExCandidates podcast, of which I am a host. Her name is Kerry White, a former nurse and diabetes educator from the Narungga people. The aim of the interview was to determine her views regarding the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

It was a fascinating interview because it completely deconstructed many fundamental aspects of the current ‘narrative’ surrounding the Aboriginal people. say ‘Aboriginal’ because even during the pre-interview phone call I had with Kerry, I made the mistake of using the term ‘Indigenous’

With no hint of hesitation, Kerry quickly corrected my error and informed me that Aboriginal people prefer to be called Aborigines.

I asked her to expand on this during the interview.

Kerry explained that Indigenous were ‘…anyone native to Australia including flora and fauna. If you’re born in Australia, you’re Indigenous.’

The other term that they use for us is First Nations,’ Kerry went on to say. ‘First Nations – that’s Canadian. We are not Canadian. We are Aboriginal. We are from Australia and the Torres Strait.’

Why did we move away from the term Aborigines in the first place? Was it a fear of political correctness? Obviously, we were not listening to Elders such as Kerry White. Instead, we have chosen to listen to Woke activists, university lecturers, and inner-city elites.

Kerry then went on to explain the divide between Aboriginal ‘mobs’ in rural/remote areas, compared to mobs in city areas.

‘When it comes to Aboriginal people, we have two separate lots,’ she began, educating us again. ‘We have a lot of Aboriginal mobs. Not tribes, not clans. Mobs. That’s an Aboriginal term. [The mobs] are divided into two. And that is rural and remote, and that is separate from the city-ites.’

Could this explain the clear difference in message between Senators Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Lidia Thorpe, who grew up in Alice Springs and Melbourne respectively?

How will an Indigenous Voice to Parliament adequately represent the concerns of this divide?

Kerry went on to teach us another Aboriginal term – ‘tick-a-boxers’. These represented the people who claimed to be Aboriginal when it is clear they are not. Recent census data points to this.

Since the 1971 census, the number of people identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander has risen from 116,000 to over 800,000 – a 590 per cent increase.

Even from 2016 to 2021, the national population increased by 8 per cent, but the Indigenous population increased by 23 per cent.

There should be some form of identification. Proof that these people claiming to be Aboriginal are actually Aboriginal,’ Kerry began, before recalling how almost twenty years ago, the government scrapped the need for someone to obtain proof that they were Aboriginal. So, if you want to be Aboriginal, all you had to do is tick the box.’

Kerry pointed out that the word Indigenous is included in the official wording of the proposal – the ‘Indigenous Voice to Parliament’. Therefore, one wonders, would simply ‘ticking a box’ to indicate you were Indigenous suffice to be recognised by the new body? What can of worms would that unleash?

It must be frustrating for an Elder like Kerry. How many times have true Aboriginal Elders been asked to comment or contribute to the debate on The Voice? According to Kerry, it is yet to happen for anyone in her community.

For Kerry, her feelings on the Voice to Parliament are clear.

‘It’s a no from me. I say no to The Voice. I don’t want it,’ she replied pointedly. ‘We, the Aboriginal people from rural and remote Australia do not want it.

‘A bit over two hundred years ago, they rounded Aboriginal people up and locked them on missions. So Aboriginal people were segregated from White society. Then we come forward to now – “The Voice” – and they’re segregating us again. They’re taking us back two hundred years. ‘You’re dividing the country again, it’s back to segregation. And frankly, it’s racist towards our White brothers and sisters that live in this land with us.’

Furthermore, Kerry makes the argument that Aborigines are already over-represented in Parliament, thus nullifying the need for a new body such as the Voice. ‘We have eleven Aboriginal members in Parliament, in the Upper and Lower house.’ Kerry begins. ‘That equates to 4.9 per cent representation, Aboriginal representation in Parliament. For 3.2 per cent of the population. With that, we actually have over-representation in Parliament. So why would we need a Voice? Unless they’re saying that our Parliamentary members are not doing their job.’

Does Kerry reflect the thoughts and feelings of all Aboriginal people? Should her statements and explanations concerning Aboriginal people be taken as gospel? Of course not. But that is the point. Can a ‘Voice’ to Parliament represent all the varying ‘voices’ of Aboriginal Australia?

More importantly, is the debate on the Voice taking the focus off the true needs of Aboriginal people? As a nurse, Kerry is well-versed in the issues facing Aboriginal people, especially in remote communities.

‘With Aboriginal people, it’s mostly linked to diabetes. We have a high rate of diabetes amongst Aboriginal people.’ Kerry explains.

‘Heart problems. That began to rise about fifteen years ago. They don’t have access to medical care out there. They don’t have health centres and doctors and all that. They don’t have it. They’ve got to travel sometimes 3-4 hours to get to a doctor, or medical treatment if something should happen out there.’

Kerry White joins Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, along with Senator Pauline Hanson of One Nation, in speaking out against the Voice to Parliament. Their message also stresses the need to unify the Nation, not to divide it along the lines of race. You would think that a study of history would compel anyone to agree.

We already have Parliaments at local, state, and federal levels that attempt to address all the ‘voices’ of society.

According to Kerry White, Senator Price, and surely many other Aboriginal people, this is the way it should remain.

For me, the lesson was that it is always best to go straight to the source and avoid the mainstream ‘narrative’.

ED: Now that you have read Kerry White’s view,  watch the opinion of the other side.

 

 

Celebrating Australia Day

Hi ALL,

I am taking today off to celebrate Australia Day. Hope you all have a wonderful day as I will be celebrating with the 32 members of our direct family.

Ray