ADF hopes to recruit teens amid critical skills shortage

The Federal Government is hoping to convince more teenagers to take up a career in the Australian Defence Force in a bid to solve its skills shortage.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) currently has a shortfall of 3000 personnel, while the Defence Department is 1000 staff under its budgeted capacity.

Defence Personnel Minister Matt Keogh said Australia was in a critical race to fill and upskill its defence vacancies at a time when the country was facing some of its most serious security threats in decades. 

“Our people are our most important capability, and we are now in the most important strategic circumstances since the second world war, so getting our people right, and growing our force is incredibly important,” Keogh said.

Defence policy expert Dr Malcolm Davis, from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said now was not a time the ADF could afford to be understaffed.

“We are facing looming prospects of war and the nation needs to be ready for that, and it’s not just about having the kit, it’s having the people to operate that capability,” Davis said.

The defence industry skills gap is so dire the government is reported to be considering giving closely monitored security clearances to experts from foreign countries.





Davis said the idea had some merit as long as the clearances were offered to the right people.

“I think it’s a good idea, providing it’s targeted at our key allies and partners,” he said.

“It has to be sensible and wise, and yes those people can bring in lots of valuable experience.”

Defence Minister Richard Marles will meet with his US and UK counterparts in Washington this week.

The meeting will be their first face-to-face trilateral meeting since the AUKUS partnership was formed.


New South Wales’ first Veterans’ and Families’ Hub has officially opened today in Nowra.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh met with organisations that will provide services to the local veteran community from the Hub.

“Veterans and families from around the region now have access to this purpose built facility that will offer a range of services including assistance with transition from the ADF, employment, advocacy services and mental health support,” Minister Keogh said.

“RSL LifeCare is the lead organisation for the Nowra Hub and they are working closely with Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling and Invictus Australia to provide integrated support services to veterans and families, in partnership with other ex-service and community organisations, and the NSW Government.”

Representatives from ex-service organisations including Soldier On, the Keith Payne VC group, Legacy, the Shoalhaven Defence Families Association and the Veteran Motorcycle Club attended the opening.

The Nowra Veterans’ and Families’ Hub is part of the Albanese Government’s commitment to delivering on a suite of practical measures to support defence personnel, veterans and families.

“The Federal Budget includes $46.7 million to deliver 10 Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs across the country to improve access to the specific services and supports that local veteran communities need and frankly deserve,” Minister Keogh said.

“To ensure these hubs can best support veterans and families, the Australian Government is now funding backbone support to enable collaboration and information sharing across the hub network.

“The Australian Government is committed to providing practical services and supports to defence personnel, veterans and families.”

For more information about the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs, visit


The Biggest Public Policy Disaster in a Lifetime

Here are a few cold hard facts:

No one has ever proven that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming.

For more than two decades I have been asking scientists for this proof. If proven, it would also have to be shown that natural carbon dioxide emissions, 97% of the annual total, don’t drive global warming. This also has never been done.

Furthermore, if it had been proven that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming, there would be endless citation of the dozen or so seminal scientific papers demonstrating this proof. Instead, there is obfuscation and deafening silence.

Ice core drilling shows that after a natural temperature rise, atmospheric carbon dioxide increases 650-6,000 years ago. However, the popular paradigm is that increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide creates warming and that we will fry and die. This is the exact opposite of repeated validated measurements. The main atmospheric greenhouse gas is water vapour. When water evaporates, such as from the oceans or sweat, it requires heat to convert to vapour. When water vapour condenses into rain, snow or hail, exactly the same amount of heat is given out. The Earth’s atmosphere contains up to 4% water vapour and operates like a giant air conditioner. The uncertainty about the effects of clouds renders climate models useless.

For the last 2,000 years, there have been thousands of predictions about the end of the world. If just one prediction was correct, we would not be here. All 20th and 21st Century climate predictions failed and there is no evidence to suggest future predictions of a climate catastrophe will be different. Do those flooded out in eastern Australia many times in 2022 believe Tim Flannery’s 2007 prediction, “Even the rain that falls isn’t going to fill our dams”?

Past climates have been cyclical, with tectonic (400 million years), galactic (143 million years), orbital (100,000, 40,000 and 20,000 years), solar (11-year cycles of variable strength and Grand Solar Cycles), oceanic (60 years) and lunar tidal (18.6 years) with the odd non-cyclical asteroid impacting and massive explosive volcanoes. Cycles have not changed because humans are alive today and cannot be changed by feelings, ideology or legislation.

There has been ice on Earth for less than 20 per cent of time. Over the history of time, there have been six major ice ages when ice expanded during glaciation and retreated during interglacials. Each ice age started when there was far more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than now. We are currently in an ice age initiated 34 million years ago, the current interglacial started 14,400 years ago in the Northern Hemisphere and we were at the peak of the current interglacial 7,000-4,000 years ago in the Holocene Optimum.

Compared to today’s global temperature, the planet has been warming for the last 14,400 years, cooling since the Holocene Optimum, cooling since the time of Jesus, warming since the time of the Vikings, cooling since Medieval times and warming since the Little Ice Age, which peaked 300 years ago in the Maunder Minimum.

Since the intense use of coal in the Industrial Revolution some 170 years ago, the planet has had three slight warmings, two slight coolings and one period of stasis. If human emissions of carbon dioxide drive warming, then there should have been no coolings or stasis. If it is claimed that the planet is warming, then a simple question must be asked “Since when?”

Carbon dioxide emissions increased during World War 2, a period of cooling. During the Global Financial Crisis and the COVID epidemic, human carbon dioxide emissions fell yet total carbon dioxide emissions increased, showing that natural processes completely overwhelm the climate systems.

Carbon dioxide is plant food, if the atmospheric carbon dioxide halved there would be neither plant nor animal life on Earth. It is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-poisonous gas. We breathe in 0.04% carbon dioxide and, by metabolising carbon-bearing foods and drinks, we exhale 4% carbon dioxide.

During human times on Earth, the atmospheric temperature has varied by over 10°C, with increased disease and mortality during cold times. Humans thrived in far warmer times which saw longevity, population, empires and wealth increase. There has been no recent increase in droughts, hurricanes, bushfires, temperature extremes, rainfall, flooding or death by climate disasters. A 30-second smart phone search shows this.

Australia is already at net zero because the adsorption of carbon dioxide by grasslands, crops, rangelands, forests, soils and continental shelf waters is far greater than human emissions. There are a finite number of atmosphere-derived carbon atoms in grass eaten by cattle which are transformed into meat, gas, liquid, dung, bone, horn and skin. Most of this carbon is returned to the atmosphere. By using leather, we sequester carbon atoms; hence beef farming is already at net zero.

There has never been a public debate on climate change yet we are told that the science is settled and we’ve “moved on”. This is not the due diligence that should be taken for trillion dollar decisions.

Bearers of validated facts are denigrated, cancelled and deemed controversial by those who have no counter argument, no ability to critically analyse, and who rely on self-interest and feelings.

Green activists have captured the language with terms such as ‘climate crisis’, ‘climate emergency’, ‘decarbonisation’, ‘carbon capture’, ‘transition’ and ‘net zero’ yet they don’t live in caves as hunter-gatherers. These hypocrites emit carbon dioxide to fly around the world and lecture those they regard as morally inferior, and they support wind and solar power and EVs as a mechanism of transferring money from the poor to the rich via high electricity costs, inflation and unemployment.

Support for renewables means activists are happy with widespread pollution around wind turbines by the toxin bisphenol A, slicing and dicing of birds and bats, sterilising pastures and dumping of toxic turbine blades to poison soils and waterways. Promoting solar panels means support for widespread sterilising of productive crop lands which become contaminated with poisonous selenium, tellurium and lead and support for the building of solar panels in China by slave labour. Climate change activism has nothing to do with the environment or climate.

If Australian becomes the renewable powerhouse of the world, we weaken our nation. When short-life turbine blades and solar panels made in China need replacing, China may refuse to provide them and, with neither coal nor nuclear power generation, Australian industry, farming and domestic life would be destroyed. As the European gas crisis shows, we must act quickly to become energy independent.

We are reaping the rewards of 50 years of dumbing down education, politicised poor science, a green public service, tampering with the primary temperature data record and the dismissal of common sense as extreme right-wing politics. There has been a deliberate attempt to frighten poorly-educated young people about a hypothetical climate emergency by the mainstream media uncritically acting as stenographers for green activists.

If carbon dioxide emissions really do drive global warming, then financially-crippling emissions reduction by Australia will have no effect whatsoever on total global emissions. Why even bother, especially as major emitters don’t? There is no climate crisis but a crisis in public policy which results in a massive increase in electricity prices, inflation, food and energy insecurity, loss of employment, exporting of productive industries and sovereign risk. This public policy failure has already cost taxpayers and consumers hundreds of billions of dollars

Will bureaucrats and their compliant politicians have the strength of character to change course, or will Australia have to endure severe economic hardship until a common sense political leader arises to cut the Gordian knot?

We once had cheap reliable energy.  We don’t now because the system has been gamed for a small proportion of highly profitable renewables to enter the grid. 


Emeritus Professor Ian Plimer’s latest book is Green Murder (Connor Court Publishing).


Mississippi flows into Western Australia

Photo: United States Navy Virginia-class submarine USS Mississippi arrives at Fleet Base West, Rockingham, Western Australia, for a routine port visit. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Yuri Ramsey.

The Virginia-class submarine is in Australia for a routine visit to provide respite for the crew.

Mr Marles said the visit reflected the ongoing strength of Australia’s alliance with the United States and built on previous visits by nuclear-powered submarines from our AUKUS partners.

“Since 1960, Australia has hosted more than 285 visits by UK and US nuclear-powered vessels with more than 1840 total days in port,” Mr Marles said.

“USS Mississippi is the second US nuclear-powered vessel to visit Australia in 2022, following a visit by the USS Springfield in April.

“I had the opportunity to tour the USS Mississippi as part of my visit to Pearl Harbour in Hawaii last month, alongside US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“It is a pleasure to welcome the crew to Western Australia this week, for this routine visit.

“Their stay in WA will provide those on board with much needed respite as they continue to ensure a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”

Chief of Navy Admiral Mark Hammond said that after a busy year operating with the US Navy across the Indo-Pacific, it was a privilege to welcome our friends to Western Australia.

“We value every opportunity for our Navies to interact, train, and operate together,” Admiral Hammond said.

“Australia and the United States have a proud history of working together in peace and war, and it is a privilege to be able to support this enduring friendship.”


B-21 Raider (RAAF F-111 replacement?) unveiled

PhotoB-21 Raider unveiled 2 December 2022. Official photo.

B-21 Raider is said to form the backbone of the future for US air power, leading a powerful family of systems that will deliver a new era of capability and flexibility through advanced integration of data, sensors and weapons.

Its sixth-generation capabilities include stealth, information advantage and open architecture.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the B-21 Raider was testament to America’s enduring advantages in ingenuity and innovation.

“It’s proof of the department’s long-term commitment to building advanced capabilities that will fortify America’s ability to deter aggression, today and into the future,” he said.

“Now, strengthening and sustaining US deterrence is at the heart of our National Defense Strategy.

“This bomber was built on a foundation of strong, bipartisan support in Congress and, because of that support, we will soon fly this aircraft, test it and then move into production.”

B-21 will be capable of networking across the battlespace to multiple systems, and into all domains.

Supported by a digital ecosystem throughout its lifecycle, the B-21 should quickly evolve through rapid technology upgrades that provide new capabilities to outpace future threats.

Tom Jones, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems, said that with the B-21, the US Air Force would be able to deter or defeat threats anywhere in the world.

“B-21 exemplifies how Northrop Grumman is leading the industry in digital transformation and digital engineering, ultimately delivering more value to our customers.”

Designation B-21 recognises the new aircraft as the first bomber of the 21st century while the ‘Raider’ name is in honour of the Doolittle Raids of World War II when 80 men, led by Lieutenant Colonel James ‘Jimmy’ Doolittle, and 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers set off on a mission that changed the course of World War II.

10 key facts about B-21 Raider according to Northrop Grumman

Sixth Generation. The B-21 Raider benefits from more than three decades of strike and stealth technology. It is the next evolution of the Air Force strategic bomber fleet. Developed with the next generation of stealth technology, advanced networking capabilities and an open systems architecture, the B-21 is optimized for the high-end threat environment. It will play a critical role in helping the Air Force meet its most complex missions.

Stealth. Northrop Grumman is continuously advancing technology, employing new manufacturing techniques and materials to ensure the B-21 will defeat the anti-access, area-denial systems it will face.

Backbone of the Fleet. The B-21 Raider forms the backbone of the future for U.S. air power. The B-21 will deliver a new era of capability and flexibility through advanced integration of data, sensors and weapons. Capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear payloads, the B-21 will be one of the most effective aircraft in the sky, with the ability to use a broad mix of stand-off and direct attack munitions.

A Digital Bomber. The B-21 is a digital bomber. Northrop Grumman uses agile software development, advanced manufacturing techniques and digital engineering tools to help mitigate production risk on the B-21 program and enable modern sustainment practices. Six B-21 Raiders are in various stages of final assembly and test at Northrop Grumman’s plant in Palmdale, California.

Cloud Technology. Northrop Grumman and the Air Force successfully demonstrated the migration of B-21 ground systems data to a cloud environment. This demonstration included the development, deployment and test of B-21 data, including the B-21 digital twin, that will support B-21 operations and sustainment. This robust cloud-based digital infrastructure will result in a more maintainable and sustainable aircraft with lower-cost infrastructure.

Open Architecture. To meet the evolving threat environment, the B-21 has been designed from day one for rapid upgradeability. Unlike earlier generation aircraft, the B-21 will not undergo block upgrades. New technology, capabilities and weapons will be seamlessly incorporated through agile software upgrades and built-in hardware flexibility. This will ensure the B-21 Raider can continuously meet the evolving threat head on for decades to come.

A National Team. Since contract award in 2015, Northrop Grumman has assembled a nationwide team to design, test and build the world’s most advanced strike aircraft. The B-21 team includes more than 8000 people from Northrop Grumman, industry partners and the Air Force. The team consists of more than 400 suppliers across 40 states.

Sustainment. Long-term operations and sustainment affordability has been a B-21 program priority from the start. In partnership with the Air Force, our team has made maintainability an equally important requirement to stealth performance to ensure we’re driving more affordable, predictable operations and sustainment outcomes.

Global Reach. The B-21 Raider will be the backbone of the U.S. bomber fleet and pivotal to supporting our nation’s strategic deterrence strategy. In addition to its advanced long-range precision strike capabilities that will afford combatant commanders the ability to hold any target, anywhere in the world at risk, it has also been designed as the lead component of a larger family of systems that will deliver intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic attack and multi-domain networking capabilities. In a dynamic global security environment, the B-21 will provide the flexibility and deterrence critical to the security of the US and our allies.



Is Xi Jinping in trouble?

The Chinese people seem to have run out of patience with their country’s draconian Covid policies. After almost three years of brutal lockdowns, mass testing and sweeping quarantine, all facilitated by claustrophobic surveillance, they appear to have snapped. The protests that swept China at the weekend are the biggest challenge to Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012, and try as he might he cannot shift the blame. Zero Covid is his policy. Dissenting voices pointing to the economic and social cost have been silenced, and ‘defeating’ the virus and demonstrating the superiority of the Chinese Communist party over the floundering West is part of the cult of Xi.

The protests are particularly dangerous for Xi because of their geographical sweep – from Urumqi in the far west, to Guangzhou in the south, by way of Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and many more towns and cities in between. But also because they seem to have brought together a rare coalition of anger that ranges from students and urban elites to factory and migrant workers, united by their suffering as a result of zero Covid. Xi appears to have underestimated the widespread frustration and anger.

The immediate trigger for the weekend’s protests appears to have been a deadly fire that killed ten people in a tower block in Urumqi last Thursday night. The area had been under lockdown since August and there were claims that harsh Covid measures had prevented residents from fleeing. The local authorities disputed that, but their denials were met with widespread scepticism on Chinese social media, where official claims are no longer trusted. It was only the latest of a series of grim stories of the collateral damage of zero Covid, including the death in Guizhou province in September of 27 people when their bus crashed while taking them to one of the giant quarantine facilities.

In Beijing, large crowds of peaceful protesters gathered on Sunday, some holding blank pieces of paper as a symbol of censorship, shouting for ‘freedom’. The blank paper protest was quickly dubbed the ‘A4 revolution’ and spread to Shanghai, where one of the city’s biggest paper manufacturers issued a bizarre statement denying rumours that it had ordered its A4 paper to be removed from the city’s stores. Students in both cities can be seen in videos demanding Xi’s resignation. Students at the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing sang songs and called for ‘democracy and the rule of law’. Some of the biggest crowds were reportedly in Wuhan, where thousands took to the streets of the city where the virus first emerged almost three years ago. Footage from the protests has not been fully verified, but whatever their form, it is clear that protests are sweeping across the country.

Earlier this month, the authorities announced a series of measures aimed at easing zero Covid controls in an effort to make them more focused and less intrusive. But with Covid cases surging, reaching the highest levels in China since the pandemic began, the timing was never good. A week after the announcement the promised changes rapidly unravelled. Draconian was back, and the broader impact was to sow more confusion and frustration.

Beijing and Shanghai were quiet this morning, though there was a heavy police presence in the areas where the protests took place. Police have reportedly been asking people for their phones to check if they have the Telegram app, which has been used by weekend protesters. They were also searching devices for virtual private networks (VPNs), the anti-censorship tools that are illegal for most people in China. Although China tightly controls the internet, and its censors have been busy deleting images, they have to a surprising extent been unable to prevent images of protests being widely shared in what has become an online game of cat and mouse.

The CCP’s default position on dissent is to crush it and to blame outsiders (usually foreigners) for instigating unrest. Repression has reached new heights under Xi. But the usual response will be complicated by the wide geographical spread of the protests, and the diverse groups they are bringing together. Police dragged away protesters in Beijing and Shanghai – at one point a BBC reporter was beaten and arrested, an incident described by foreign secretary James Cleverly as ‘deeply disturbing’. In Urumqi the authorities responded to protests by reopening some locked down neighbourhoods.

The biggest concern for the party – and for Xi – will be the way the anger has turned against them, and the danger of zero Covid frustrations merging with other grievances. For instance, students are facing grim job prospects, with urban youth unemployment running at close to 20 per cent. The old ‘contract’ whereby youngsters in effect traded economic opportunity for political docility no longer stands. Covid grievances in Urumqi, the capital of Xinxiang province, merge with wider anger over the repression of the Uyghurs, more than a million of whom have been sent to ‘re-education’ camps.

How the security forces react will no doubt depend on how things develop over the coming days. They can no doubt crush protests, but like zero Covid itself, attempts to stamp out such widely dispersed unrest by force risks becoming a giant game of Whack-A-Mole, where for every protest that is crushed another emerges in this vast and increasingly frustrated country.

WRITTEN BY Ian Williams Ian Williams is a former foreign correspondent for Channel 4 News and NBC, and author of The Fire of the Dragon: China’s New Cold War (Birlinn).



Today we recognise more than 280,000 Australians who were called up to serve their country in National Service schemes between 1951 and 1972.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh said the men who served as ‘Nashos’ should be proud of their service.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Whitlam Labor Government’s end to the last National Service scheme in Australia,” Minister Keogh said.

“The Nashos were an integral part of Australia’s defence forces in the 1950s, 60s and 70s serving in Australia, Borneo, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam.

“The first National Service scheme, from 1951-59 saw men from across the country called up for training in the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force. More than 220,000 served during this period, putting their careers and lives on hold to serve their country.

“The second National Service scheme took place from 1965-1972 and for some, included service in the Vietnam War. During this period, 63,000 20 year-olds were selected for service in the Army through a birthday ballot.

“More than 15,300 National Servicemen served in the Vietnam War and some 200 lost their lives. At least 100 National Servicemen also served overseas in Borneo, with two men losing their lives while on deployment.

“No matter the nature of their service, today we honour all national servicemen and thank them for what they have done for our nation.”

“We thank all Nashos and their families for putting their lives on hold during their years of compulsory service. We know this service was difficult, as was your return to civilian life. The Australian Government thanks you.

“I’d like to make sure all Nashos know that if they were injured during their service, even if they were never deployed, they are eligible to claim through DVA and all entitled to a White card including mental health support.


Editor’s note:

In 2023 we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, honouring all those who served.

A series of events will be undertaken throughout the year, culminating in a national commemorative service on Vietnam Veterans’ Day, 18 August 2023, at the Vietnam Forces National Memorial on Anzac Parade, Canberra.

For more information about acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the war, visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website:



Australia’s Key Alliance in the Vietnam War…

The steamy jungles of south-east Asia presented the stage for one of the deadliest confrontations of the Cold War where the philosophies of democracy, communism and nationalism clashed in bitter, brutal and bloody warfare.

Vietnam was born out of the ashes of the collapse of the French Empire but was a country divided with both sides dreaming of unification but without compromise when it came to their own beliefs. Lasting 19 years and claiming over two million lives, the Vietnam War was as much a battle of wills as it was of tactics and weapons and in this regard, the communist north and their supporters in the south – the Viet Cong – had will to spare, so much so that not even the technology of the west could blunt their drive for victory.

While South Vietnam eventually fell to the communist north, history particularly in the west views the conflict as an American tragedy given the damage it did to American prestige, influence and even its own society. However, the United States was by no means alone when it came to defending the South Vietnamese. Far from it for they called upon a number of key allies to support them not just militarily but diplomatically. In this episode, we will examine the involvement of one such key ally in the war for Vietnam – Australia.