Leading article Australia

Cold war kowtowing

5 October 2019

9:00 AM

5 October 2019

9:00 AM

Beijing’s birthday bash this week provides an unwelcome flashback to the dark days of the Cold War.  The depressing spectacle of thousands of robotic, goose-stepping soldiers accompanying hundreds of aircraft and weapons systems is only the latest manifestation of China’s increasingly belligerent posture, most often observed in the South China Sea.

But behind the flag-waving crowds and floats and the hoopla is an even more worrying prospect; China’s much-vaunted economic miracle is flagging. China has indeed lifted 750 million people out of poverty since the Communists seized control of the country on 1 October 1949.  But it has come at a terrible cost to the Chinese people, with more than 50 million estimated to have been murdered or to have died of starvation in the terrible Great Leap Forward.  Since then, the state-directed crony capitalism has certainly created plenty of billionaires and a large middle-class but behind the shiny veneer of progress, the Chinese economy is fragile and the trade war with the United States that China has brought upon itself by continually abusing the rules of international commerce for its own benefit now threatens the Middle Kingdom. Former Chinese leaders from Deng Xiaoping to Hu Jintao were careful not inflame international relations. Not so, President Xi Jinping whose aggressive policies at home are as disturbing as those adopted abroad.

Labor Opposition leader Anthony Albanese and his shadow minster for defence Richard Marles have both criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of China. They would do well to pay attention to the fact that Mr Morrison’s policy, which draws on analysis from the OECD, the European Commission and the US Trade Representative, aligns not only with that of the United States but with the emerging position of most OECD and G20 leaders.

It is time that Labor came from the cold and stopped to kowtowing to the Chinese communists. The reason why Beijing has not made good on its not-so-veiled threats to punish Australia economically is because this would punish Beijing too, at a time when its domestic economy is starting to show stress fractures and it is also suffering from the tit-for-tat trade war with theUnited States.

Labor’s sycophantic behaviour is shameful and counter-productive.  The international community needs to unite in demanding better behaviour from China for the good of the whole world.

Cowardly elites sabotage ballot box

Australia recalcitrant elites are at it again. Having lost the federal election they defined as a referendum on climate change, they have adopted different ways of ensuring that their climate policy prevails. Judicial, shareholder and bureaucratic activism are being shamelessly employed to push their agenda.

In the NSW Land and Environment Court, a coal mine has been refused approval because a judiciary charged with reviewing New South Wales planning disputes has assumed the right to determine complex matters of international law. What is worse, the court has got its way.

In Western Australia, the Environmental Protection Authority earlier this year put $45 billion of new liquid natural gas projects at risk by insisting that greenhouse gases be offset. Never mind that exported LNG actually reduces global carbon emissions by replacing more carbon-intensive fossil fuels. State government bureaucrats decided they had the right to make binding decisions to deter investment and drive wealth and profits offshore.

The most feral response to the lawful decisions of the federal government has been by protesters against the Adani mine. Few have the nerve to show their faces in Far North Queensland after the  drubbing Labor and the Greens received from voters in resource-rich regions.

The new front in the fight to prevent Adani breathing life into the North Queensland economy however is annual general meetings and the war is being waged in online campaigns to bully other businesses into washing their hands of Adani. The banks and finance companies fainted at the first hurdle, scared of the reputational damage association with Adani would bring. The fact that banks feel they have any reputation left to protect is, in itself, sadly absurd.

Now, a particularly nasty campaign has been launched to target contractors and subcontractors to try to discourage them from signing contracts with Adani. Those running this campaign hide behind the anonymity of the  internet. They will never have to look a Queenslander in the eye to explain why the overwhelming support the state expressed in the resource industry counts for nothing after all.

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