Wellington 26 January 2035: Ten years ago this week the first nuclear-armed missile landed on Australian soil, remembered as Invasion Day. Duncan Graham recalls what happened.
The surprise attack was the People’s Republic of China’s reaction to Australia’s involvement in opposing the ‘Ring of Steel’ blockade of Taiwan.
Washington had earlier begun an airlift of supplies into the nation under siege, code named Operation Vittles 2, and sought Australian support. PM Josh Frydenberg made the following announcement in Parliament, backed by Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek:
‘It is our judgement that the decision to commit a battalion in Taiwan represents the most useful additional contribution we can make to the defence of the region at this time’.
‘The takeover of Taiwan would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South and South East Asia. It must be seen as part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.’
The missile struck Fremantle where submarines were being refitted to handle the new armed underwater drones developed by China. These proved effective in eliminating the Japanese fleet when it tried to break the blockade.
The weapon that hit WA was a Chinese Dongfeng 5 ICBM launched from the Nampong Air Force Base in Myanmar established some years earlier.
The missile covered the distance in 30 minutes at Mach 22 . It carried a 1 MT warhead and was centred on HMAS Stirling on Garden Island. About half the blast went inland damaging or destroying about 100 square kilometres of largely civilian housing.
At the time the population of Greater Perth was around two million. It is estimated that a third died immediately. The extent of radiation burns and sickness is unknown as the news blackout imposed by the occupying forces remains.
The PM said: ‘This is a date which will live in infamy’.
‘I ask that the Parliament declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by China on 1 October 2030, a state of war has existed between the Commonwealth and the Chinese Empire.’
There was only one dissension by a pacifist. She was reported as saying: ‘I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else’. She has not been named for her safety.
The national government issued a statement reiterating a commitment to fight on and ignore Beijing’s demands to surrender.
Three days later a second Dongfeng 3 was launched from Pakistan targeting Canberra and carrying a 3 MT warhead. The city and surrounds were vaporised. There were no survivors.
The unconditional surrender took place six days after the declaration of war. Australia was then re-named the PRC Southern Territories or TuAo (an unrefined, backward land).
Some boat people fled to NZ in a fleet of small craft largely organised by recreational and commercial fishers. However many were overloaded and sank during the crossover tagged Operation Dynamo 2.
The survivors, known as ‘boat people’ are held on Stewart Island waiting to be processed.
An Australian Government in Exile has been set up in Wellington with politicians who were not in Canberra on 4 October. With their families they commandeered civilian aircraft to reach safety in what’s known as Operation Pitting 2.
Beach landings across Northern Australia by troops from the People’s Liberation Army followed conventional rocket attacks on US facilities at Robertson Barracks and RAAF Tindal. These were largely unopposed as no orders were coming from Canberra.
Headquarters of the TuAo Government were established in Darwin as radiation from the Canberra attack has impacted Sydney and Melbourne. The NT city has been renamed Zedong.
The civilian population was ordered to return to their mines, farming and approved services, and that has generally happened as all welfare services have been dissolved. Outbreaks of dissent and attempts to start a guerrilla campaign have been ruthlessly put down by the occupiers.
There are ‘security agencies’ in every town and ‘re-education centres’ in regional cities. Beijing’s Hong Kong style National Security Law applies throughout.
In an interview on the Wellington waterfront the Australian leaders conceded that sending troops to Taiwan may not have been the best decision:
Said Mr Frydenberg: ‘However this needs to be put into context. A widespread fear campaign largely engineered by overseas agencies and arms dealers at the time drove political decisions that were not always rational – mass hysteria, I suppose’.
‘In retrospect China’s dispute with Taiwan was not our business.’
Ms Plibersek added: ‘There were precedents for inaction. We hadn’t bothered with the Tatmadaw attacking pro-democracy supporters in Myanmar, or Indonesian troops killing secessionists in West Papua, or human rights abuses in Vietnam and Cambodia’.
‘So why get involved in this regional quarrel, losing our land and the lives of millions? We should have been more mature and focused on diplomacy to fix differences.’