AUKUS: Beazley, Richardson, Dibb are old men pushing ignorant economics

Jun 4, 2024
Aukus is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Relations between AUKUS and China

On 28 May, a Defending Australia Summit was held in Sydney by “The Australian Newspaper” which showcased three former Australian defence officials who seemed confused by their old age and indulged in ignorant and historically romantic group think.

Kim Beazley is a former Australian Minister of Defence and Ambassador to the US, Denis Richardson is a former head of the Department of Defence and Ambassador to the US, and Paul Dibb is a former Department of Defence official in charge of strategy.

All have spent nearly all their working lives in Canberra or Washington talking to people with similar ideas and sources of information. None of them have any significant economic, business or industry experience. Despite this, all extolled the virtues of building AUKUS submarines – which, magically, will now be newly designed 12000 ton behemoths compared with 7000 tons for present-day US nuclear submarines and about 3000 tones for present-day Collins class conventional subs — in the South Australia city of Adelaide.

It was strange that Richardson said that Australia should not buy foreign defence equipment and then try to modify the stuff to suit its own needs because of the past disasters in this area, but then enthusiastically endorsed AUKUS modified submarines saying that Australia is a “can do nation” and winning is “simply a question of will and perseverance” — as if it was a pep talk for a national football team!

All three agreed that Australia would need to join the US in any war with China over Taiwan. One reason seems to be that Australia needs to defend “freedom of navigation” and its international trade routes by fighting China, even though 40% of Australia’s exports go to China (12% to Japan, 7% to South Korea).

Another reason is that the Australia-US alliance would collapse if Australia did not join in fighting China, even though Beazley said that the US “has never been more dependent on Australia. It was strange that Dibb said that Japan would not join in the fight against China, and did not suggest that this would affect the US-Japan alliance.

Then there was the issue of skilled workers to construct the AUKUS submarines. Australian Submarine Agency director-general Jonathan Mead said his biggest concern over the AUKUS program was finding and training the people to deliver it. “Workforce has always been identified as the No. 1 issue.”

“The Australian” journalist Cameron Stewart – once again with no economic, business or industry experience – is an AUKUS enthusiast. The next day he wrote:

“South Australia’s Premier, Peter Malinauskas, has sent a timely message to both sides of politics in Canberra that the AUKUS plan to build nuclear submarines will succeed only if it is front of mind in every area of government policy. Malinauskas wants AUKUS to be a consideration in deliberations over the level of Australia’s skilled migration program. But more than that, he is urging the federal government to think bigger on AUKUS, beyond the defence portfolio, and to understand how an enterprise of this size and ambition will touch almost every major area of public policy. When we think about housing, what does it mean for AUKUS? When we think about infrastructure, what does that mean for AUKUS? When we think about education, health, or innovation policy:

AUKUS has implications that reach into every portfolio.” The size and ambition of the plan to build five SSN AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines in Adelaide, and maintain three US Virginia-class submarines, is beyond anything attempted in Australia. Malinauskas warns now is not the time to cut migration levels when SA’s defence sector will need to more than double its workforce of 14,000 in defence and associated industries by the 2040s. Foreign nationals cannot work on the AUKUS project for reasons of national security, which means the submarine enterprise will recruit those extra 15,000.”

Given the time frames, why not just encourage Australians “to think about” having “big sex for big AUKUS” and put – a la Sparta – the children in special schools to become future AUKUS construction workers?

Republished from, May 2024

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