Tag: Scott Morrison

Sydney Dialogue Day-1 : PM Scott Morrison launches blueprint for 63 critical technologies to halt China’s emerging tech lead

PM Scott Morrison delivering his keynote address on Day-1 at the Sydney Dialogue. Photo grab- tsd.aspi.org.au/live

By Neeraj Nanda

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE, 17 November 2021: Prime Minister Scott Morrisson today launched the blueprint for 63 ‘critical technologies to counter China’s emerging capability in technologies that matter in the 21st century. These technologies include artificial intelligence, 5G/6G advanced communications, synthetic biology, and quantum technology.

In his speech, PM Scott Morrison did not mention China but it is obvious the aim of the critical technologies action plan,
and the focus on AUKUS and Quad is aimed at Beijing’s surging advance in technologies and global economic dominance changing the face of the world.

He was addressing the Sydney Dialogue, organized by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) today. The Blueprint is supported by an Action Plan, which outlines what Australia is doing to protect and promote critical technologies in pursuit of our national interest.

The Action Plan identifies a priority list of technology to focus on. One of those is Quantum technology, announcing over $100 million investment in it, including $70 million for the Quantum Commercialisation Hub to foster strategic partnerships with like-minded countries to commercialize Australia’s quantum research and help Australian businesses access new markets and investors.

The Hub will be supported by the development of a National Quantum Strategy and quantum technologies prospectus, designed to align industry and government efforts and unlock greater private sector investment.

Screen Shot 2021-11-17 at 11.50.52 am

The Blueprint sets out four key goals:

1. Ensure we have access to, and choice in, critical technologies and systems that are secure, reliable, and cost-effective.

2. Promote Australia as a trusted and secure partner for investment, research, innovation, collaboration, and adoption of critical technologies.

3. Maintain the integrity of our research, science, ideas, information and capabilities – to enable Australian industries to thrive and maximise our sovereign IP.

4. Support regional resilience and shape an international environment that enables open, diverse and competitive markets and secure and trusted technological innovation.

“The Blueprint is supported by an Action Plan, which outlines what Australia is doing to protect and promote critical technologies in pursuit of our national interest, the PM said.

The strategy will be led by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Cathy Foley, and informed by a National Committee on Quantum, comprised of a group of industry stakeholders and experts.

It is estimated that the development, commercialization, and adoption of quantum technologies can deliver Australia $4 billion in economic value and create 16,000 new jobs by 2040

Some examples

Quantum computing – New computer systems that can solve problems faster than existing computers. Applications for this include simulating chemical and biological process, revealing secret communications, machine learning;

Quantum sensors – high precision and high sensitivity measurements. Applications for this include – enhanced imaging, passive navigation, remote sensing, quantum radar and threat detection for defence

Post-quantum cryptography – Mathematical techniques for ensuring that information stays private, or is authentic, that resist attacks. Applications securing online communications from attack.

The Action Plan technology priority list (but not limited to):

There are 63 critical technologies on the list — but we’ve got an initial focus, very clearly, on just nine:

Critical minerals extraction and processing

Advanced explosives and energetic materials

Critical minerals extraction and processing

Advanced Communications (including 5G and 6G)

Advanced optical communications

Advanced radiofrequency communications (incl. 5G and 6G)

Artificial intelligence

Advanced data analytics

AI algorithms and hardware accelerators

Machine Learning

Natural Language Processing

Cyber security technologies

Protective cyber security technologies

Machine learning (also in AI)

Genomics and genetic engineering

Genetic engineering

Genome and genetic sequencing and analysis (Next Generation Sequencing)

Synthetic biology

Novel antibiotics, antivirals and vaccines

Novel antibiotics and antivirals

Vaccines and medical countermeasures

Low emission alternative fuels


Hydrogen and ammonia for power

Quantum technologies

Post-quantum cryptography

Quantum communications (incl. quantum key distribution)

Quantum computing

Quantum sensors

Autonomous vehicles, drones, swarming and collaborative robotics

Advanced robotics

Autonomous systems operation technology

Drones, swarming and collaborative robots

Video- YouTube/SAT/NN

The PM said, ” As we all know, technological change has helped deliver enormous human progress – in better health, longer life expectancy, wider learning, more leisure and greater prosperity.

Yet experience has also taught us that it brings new challenges, unanticipated consequences and enhanced risks.

Our time of rapid technological change is no different.

It corresponds with profound global challenges – from the immediate threats posed by COVID-19 and related economic disruption to climate change and geostrategic competition.
Technology is at the centre of how we now respond to all these challenges.

The simple fact is that nations at the leading edge of technology have greater economic, political and military power.

And, in turn, greater capacity to influence the norms and values that will shape technological development in the years to come.

Nowhere is this more powerfully illustrated than in the Indo-Pacific region — the world’s strategic centre of gravity.”


The PM said the AUKUS is about much more than nuclear submarines.

“AUKUS will see Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States promote deeper information sharing; foster greater integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains; and strengthen our cooperation in advanced and critical technologies and capabilities,” he said.


” We are also deepening our technology partnerships through the Quad. Together with India, Japan and the United States, Australia is working to harness our respective nations’ capabilities to enhance the resilience of Indo-Pacific supply chains and foster an open, accessible and secure technology ecosystem.

At September’s first in-person Quad Leaders Meeting in Washington DC, we agreed to strengthen lines of effort across a number of very important areas, including:

• Technical standards, with initial focus on advanced communications and AI

• 5G deployment and diversification, and

• Detailed horizon scanning and mapping, with an immediate focus on supply chain security for semiconductors and their vital components, as well as exploring opportunities for cooperation on advanced bio-technologies,” he said.

We’re also working within the Quad to bolster critical infrastructure resilience against cyber threats, benchmarking against international best practice, the PM said.

Australia’s Blueprint for Critical Technologies (FULL DOCUMENT)

The three days Sydney Dialogue (17,18,19 November 2021) will bring together political, business, and government leaders with the world’s best strategic thinkers to debate, generate new ideas and work towards common understandings of the opportunities and challenges posed by emerging and critical technologies.

The Sydney Dialogue will be global in outlook, but with a particular focus on the Indo-Pacific. In 2021, India will be a core focus, says a media release.

Among the speakers apart from the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are:

Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, Indian Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, former Japanese Prime Minister
Marise Payne, Australian Foreign Minister
Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India External Affairs Minister
Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand Foreign Minister
Dr. Kailasavadivoo Sivan, Chairman & Secretary, Indian Space Research Organisation, Department of Space
Sir Nick Clegg, Vice President for Global Affairs and Communications, Facebook
Enrico Palermo, Head of Australian Space Agency
Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer, Rappler and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Karen Andrews, Australian Minister for Home Affairs

Gandhi statue struggled to settle in Melbourne

Photos- SAT/NN

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 13 November 2021: Mahatma Gandhi has reemerged here after not being able to pass a community consultation some years back by the Greater Dandenong Council. It was proposed to have his statue opposite the Dandenong station and adjacent to the Little India precinct. The veil on the Mahatma’s statue (Made in India) was removed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he unveiled it at the Australian Indian Community Centre, Rowville, as rain and winds lashed the area.

Among those present were the Indian Consul General Mr. Rajkumar, Mr. Alan Tudge MP, Member for Aston, Minister for Education and Youth. Others present included Mr. Jason Wood MP, Member for Latrobe, Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, and Mr. Matthew Guy, Patron of Federation of Indian Associations in Victoria. The hero of the day was Mr. Vasan Srinivasan, Chairperson & Founding Trustee Australia Indian Community Charitable Trust (AICCT) who’s idea it was and is now a reality.

The earlier attempts (2018) to have the Mahatma in Melbourne though failed, the Council had a huge mural of Gandhi painted in Little India, part of the Daniel Andrews government plan to rejuvenate the precinct. Mysteriously the mural, I noticed a few months back, has vanished. One wonders what happened to India’s father of the nation’s mural which could be seen from Mason street. A blank wall now stares at visitors. Anyway, things were forgotten as the pandemic lockouts bruised the area.

By Julian Clavijo
The Gandhi mural that vanished from Little India, Dandenong.

Till this day the Mahatma is missed in Little India. So much for Australia’s engagement with India and Asia. But, now the Gandhi statue in Rowville is a big relief. I am sure every 2nd October (his birthday) and 30th January (his assassination day) people can pay their homage to the apostle of non-violence, who once said, “The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.”

In April 2018, The Immigration Museum organized ‘Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant’ Digital Exhibition which focussed on Gandhi’s years as a migrant in South Africa and the methods of non-violent resistance he developed during this time. Later, Ela Gandhi, renowned peace activist and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi visited Melbourne to view the exhibition. The exhibition was supported by the Victorian Government and the Deakin University. It was a big success, indicating the interest Melbournanians have in Gandhi.

Video-SAT/NN (Text of video below)

In his address,” Gandhi’s life is his message, a message that endures. It’s not a whisper from the past, but a teaching embedded in the hearts of millions around the world and reflected in every respect of this building, every aspect. So, congratulations, and I win, I wish, I should say, this centre a long and illustrious life, but more importantly, I wish the vibrancy of this community every success,” PM Scott Morrison concluded.

Talking to SAT, Mr. Vasan Srinivasan disclosed, ” The Australian Indian Community Centre will organize a series of lectures on Gandhi, his life and way of thinking from 30 January 2022 with prominent Gandhian’s participating in the program.”

PM Scott Morrison welcomes Victoria’s reopening


By Scott Morrison*

Over the past almost two years, Victoria, like so much of the world, has been engaged in the battle of our generation. Beating COVID-19. With the state reaching the 70 percent double dose vaccination milestone, victory is in sight. I want to thank each and every Victorian for the incredible job you’ve done.

Again and again, Victorians have stepped up. Thank you to all Victorians who have had a double dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – and to those who have a first or second dose booked in.

I welcome Premier Andrews’ announcement to safely reopen as part of the National Plan. Bringing down state borders and bringing down the international border.
Reuniting families and friends. Getting businesses going again. Firing up jobs.

And I look forward to the safe easing of more restrictions across Victoria as the vaccination rate continues to surge. Victorians have sacrificed so much over the course of extended lockdowns.

Crucially, you’ve rolled up your sleeves, with a first dose vaccination rate of almost 90 percent – that’s higher than the United Kingdom. If Victoria was a country it would be the 12th most vaccinated in the OECD on first doses. Having reached 70 percent double dose – a critical early mark of the National Plan – you’re about to start reclaiming your lives.

It’s a new chapter, as you begin to open up safely. And stay safely open. We’ll see relaxations for the fully vaccinated at restaurants, cafes, cinemas, gyms, religious gatherings, weddings, and funerals. Children are heading back to school. Next month, when the 80 percent fully vaccinated target is met, Victorians will enjoy even more freedoms. We’re taking our lives back.

And it’s been achieved by Victorians – and Australians and their governments from all states and territories – signing up to the National Plan.

Working together.

The Morrison Government rolled up its sleeves with significant vaccine supply and record economic support. We have provided Victorians with more than 10.8 million COVID-19 vaccines, including almost 685,000 doses that were brought forward to deal directly with outbreaks. Our Government has provided Victorians with over $51 billion in economic support to date, the highest per capita support of any state.

Over $28 billion in JobKeeper Payments, over $5 billion in Coronavirus Supplement, and to combat the impact of Delta, over $3.7 billion in COVID-19 Disaster Payments and over $2.4 billion as our half of Business Support Payments. We’ve saved lives and livelihoods the Australian way, and now Australians are reclaiming their Australian way of life. Whether you’re in Victoria or NSW, Queensland or Western Australia, we can feel proud. We have now administered more than 33 million vaccines around the country.

That’s over 85 percent of eligible over 16s who have had a first dose and the 70 percent double dose mark now also achieved nationally (70.01 percent). Australia’s double dose vaccination rate has surpassed the United States, and over the coming month, we are on track to overtake Israel, France, and Germany.
And with first doses administered to around two-thirds of 12 to 15-year-olds, thank you to all those parents and kids for responding magnificently to the challenge.

I can understand in Victoria how tough the lockdowns have been. However, vaccinations are clearly winning the fight. The vaccines are doing their job. The vaccines are working. As a result, freedoms are very close for every state or territory that has at some stage been subject to lockdown, or for those states locked in and wanting to see loved ones interstate.

Planes are ready for take-off again, as we prepare to reignite international travel and bring Australians home. All of this has been achieved by following the National Plan, and Australians getting vaccinated at record rates. We understand that every state is starting at a different point, but we all want the same ending – to bring our country together again, and join the rest of the world.

I know all Premiers and Chief Ministers want this. It’s what the National Plan that we agreed to is all about. For locked-down states, it’s been about winning freedoms back. For others, it’s about protecting the freedoms you’ve been fortunate to enjoy by safely reopening as a nation. But for everyone, it’s about getting back to living our lives as we once did, as best we can.

The vaccine supply is there for everyone. Right now.

So please, go and get your second jab. If you haven’t already, please get your first dose. Encourage your friends and family to also get vaccinated. Victoria, you know this has been the battle of our generation. It’s been long and tough. There have been many sacrifices. We can’t be complacent. We still have to take one step at a time safely and ensure we always put that safety goal first as we reopen our country.

So thank you again. For rolling up your sleeves, not just in terms of getting the vaccines, but for the sacrifices you’ve made and the resilience you’ve demonstrated. And thank you to the thousands of nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and health care workers who have cared for us, protected us, and vaccinated us.
Let’s bring this home – that 70 percent has to become an 80.

And most importantly, ensure that we are back together with our families, friends, and loved ones this Christmas. Making this Christmas the best ever.

*Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia

Former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull censures PM Scott Morrison’s handling of the N-submarine deal (READ FULL SPEECH AT THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB OF AUSTRALIA)

Photo- @PressClubAust

Australia’s 29th Prime Minister (2015-2018) Malcolm Turnbull had international careers in law, business, and the media before entering politics at the age of 50. Since leaving politics, Mr. Turnbull has resumed his business career. He is a senior adviser to KKR and an investor in, and adviser to, many Australian technology businesses. He is a director of the International Hydropower Association and Chairman of Australian Fortescue Future Industries. Mr. Turnbull speaks and writes on a range of issues including cyber security, geopolitics, and renewable energy. (National Press Club OF Australia, website)

In his address to the National Press Club, Mr. Malcom Turnbull comes down heavily on Prime Minister Scott Morrison for scrapping the N-submarine deal, which his government has signed with France. He says: ” Mr. Morrison has not acted in good faith. He deliberately deceived France. He makes no defense of his conduct other than to say it was in Australia’s national interest. So, is that Mr. Morrison’s ethical standard with which Australia is now tagged.: Australia will act honestly unless it is judged in our national interest to deceive?”

Former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull’s address to the National Press Club – September 2021

The following is the text of Mr. Turnbull’s speech published on his website.

Address to the National Press Club
By the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull AC
29 September 2021

With the swirl of media soundbites, the impression has been created that the Australian Government has replaced a diesel electric French designed submarine for a nuclear powered American, or British, one. This is not the case.

Australia now has no new submarine programme at all. We have cancelled the one we had with France and have a statement of intent with the UK and the US to examine the prospect of acquiring nuclear powered submarines.

Over the next eighteen months there will be a review of the possibilities – the biggest probably being whether the new submarine should be based on the UK Astute[1] submarine or the larger US Virginia class[2].

The hyperbole around the new AUKUS partnership has been dialed up to 11. No three nations in the world already have closer security, intelligence, and technology collaboration than Australia, the US and the UK. And it has been getting closer in recent years. As Canada’s Justin Trudeau observed this is all about selling submarines to Australia[3].

The Australian Government has chosen to terminate a contract with France’s largely state-owned Naval Group to build 12 Attack class submarines. While based on the design of France’s latest nuclear sub they were to be conventionally powered – a modification stipulated by Australia in the competitive tender process begun in 2015 and concluded in April 2016 when it was approved by my Government’s NSC of which the current Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister were all members.

But nothing is agreed. There is no design, no costing, no contract. The only certainty is that we won’t have new submarines for 20 years and their cost will be a lot more than the French subs. However, high hopes and good intentions are in abundance. But there were plenty of them when we did the deal with France too.

The first of the Attack class[4] submarines was to be in the water by 2032, with the rest of the fleet coming out of the shipyards every two years until the full complement had been constructed. It was the largest defence procurement in our history – a partnership of generations between France and Australia.

The nagging concern about the French submarines was that they were not nuclear powered. Nuclear powered subs have unlimited underwater range – nuclear reactors, unlike diesel engines, do not need oxygen. Their endurance is only limited by the need to keep the crew sustained. They can operate at much higher sustained speeds underwater, about 25 knots, than a diesel/electric submarine. And they don’t need to surface, or snort, to recharge their batteries by running their diesel motors.

So, given the long distances our subs have to travel, and our vast maritime domain, why did Australia decide not to order nuclear powered submarines? The answer is, or was, that we do not have, and by law are not able to have, a civil nuclear industry which is needed to support the maintenance of a nuclear navy. There is no country with a nuclear navy that does not also have a civil nuclear industry.

The choice of a conventional submarine had been made long before I became Prime Minister, and the competitive tender was well underway. This determination was confirmed to us on numerous occasions not just by our own Navy, but by the expert advisory board chaired by Don Winter, an engineer and former US Secretary of the Navy and included three US Navy Admirals with direct command and engineering experience in nuclear submarines.[5]

There were three bids – from France, Japan and Germany. It was my Government, which chose the French bid on the basis that it was the best – especially in terms of stealthiness, which is the prime requirement for a submarine.

In 2018 I tasked the Defence Department to formally reconsider the potential for nuclear powered submarines in Australia. Technologies were changing, the risk environment was worsening, I was concerned that conventionally powered boats would not be good enough in the future. The big question, however, remained whether we could sustain and maintain a nuclear-powered navy in Australia without local, Australian nuclear facilities and the advice remained that we could not.

Leaving aside the politics it was plain enough that we did not need a civil nuclear industry to generate electricity. It was very clear that the cheapest forms of new generation were renewables backed by storage – batteries or pumped hydro. So, any local nuclear industry would have as its overwhelming justification the support of a nuclear navy.

The alternative, I was advised, would have been to have a nuclear-powered sub that required maintenance in another country. This would have meant our submarine capability was not sovereign – if you can’t maintain your own ships, you are not in full control of them.

One of the attractions of the French subs was that they were originally designed for nuclear propulsion. So, if we decided to switch to nuclear we had a partner that had the expertise to do it with us.

In its natural state uranium is 99% made up of a stable isotope U238, the unstable radioactive isotope U235 is only about 0.7%. The more U235, the more radiation, reactivity and energy. Highly enriched Uranium (HEU) has a concentration of 20% or more U235. Low enriched uranium (LEU) as used in nuclear power stations is typically between 2-5%.

The United States, United Kingdom and Russia are the only countries still to use HEU in their naval reactors. It is enriched to about 95% and is drawn from stockpiles built up for nuclear weapons.

For Australia, a non-nuclear weapons state, using HEU in a submarine is not a breach of the Treaty on Non Proliferation (NPT), but it does set a precedent which other currently non-nuclear weapons states, like Iran, will seek to exploit as a justification for producing HEU.

Following the AUKUS announcement, I was advised by the Government that the work I had commenced on nuclear options continued and it had been concluded that Australia could use the modular HEU reactors currently deployed in the UK Astute and US Virginia class submarines which, because of their HEU fuel, do not require replacement during the 35 year life of the sub. This, it is contended, means that Australia could have a nuclear-powered submarine without any need to maintain, service or refuel the nuclear reactor.

This is very different advice to that given to the Government as recently as three years ago. It sounds too good to be true; Australia would have submarines powered by nuclear reactors running on weapons grade uranium. And we would not need to have any of our own nuclear facilities or expertise?

Is it credible to have a hands-off plug and play nuclear reactor filled with weapons grade uranium and not inspect it for 35 years? The US and UK will know for sure in about thirty years. And until then if something does go wrong, both nations have extensive nuclear facilities and expertise to deal with it.

Australia does not.

The French nuclear propulsion system however uses low enriched uranium (LEU) – somewhat more enriched than that used in civil nuclear plants. By law they inspect their reactors and refuel them every ten years. All submarines go in for a lengthy, year or more, refit every decade. The refueling of the French naval reactor takes a few weeks. In this regard at least, French naval nuclear reactor safety standards are stricter than those applied in the United States and the UK.

The new AUKUS submarines, we are told, will still be built in Adelaide. But if there are no nuclear facilities there, that must mean the submarine hulls will be transported to the US or the UK to have the reactor installed together with all of the safety and other systems connected to it.

You don’t need to be especially cynical to see it won’t be long before someone argues it looks much simpler to have the first submarine built in the US or the UK, and then the second, third and so on.

Australia is the first country to receive access to US naval reactors since the technology transfer to the UK in 1958. But the UK was and remains a nuclear weapons state with a substantial civil nuclear industry. Australia will be the first country without any civil nuclear industry to operate a nuclear submarine and the first non-nuclear weapon state to use HEU in a naval reactor. So, if we are not going to develop nuclear facilities of our own (as Mr Morrison has promised) then we will no more be sharing nuclear technology with the US than the owner of an iPhone is sharing smartphone technology with Apple.

A new submarine, under the new AUKUS arrangement, would not be in the water until 2040, we are told. That is about eight years after the first Attack class sub would have been in service. So, we are now without any new submarines for the best part of 20 years. In the meantime, the Collins Class submarines are going to be refitted so they can last another decade. Let’s hope that works. But it doesn’t get us to 2040. So whichever way you look at this there is going to be an even bigger capability gap.

For several years now the Attack Class submarine programme has been accused of cost blow outs – from $50 to $90 billion. The $50 billion was the estimate of the cost of the total programme in 2016 dollars. This included the Lockheed Martin combat and weapons system and the construction of a new dockyard in Adelaide. The $90 billion figure is no more than the estimated cost of the project in nominal dollars over its 35- year life. It is a rough estimate based on assumptions about inflation, exchange rates and technologies over decades.[6]

Of course, now that the flurry of the media announcement is over, the question remains whether we will be able to negotiate a satisfactory deal with the US and UK to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine for Australia. If the Astute is preferred because of its size, then for practical purposes we will be price takers.

Tony Abbott was of the view that Australia could not build the new diesel/electric submarines itself and his original plan was that they would all be built in Japan. With the support of my colleagues, I determined that all submarines should be built in Australia. This was to be the biggest element in a new continuous sovereign shipbuilding industry in Australia, itself an engine of innovation, science, and technology with enormous spillover benefits to the rest of the economy.

How can we maintain that commitment without having the nuclear facilities in Australia to enable maintenance and support of the new submarines’ reactor and connected systems? If that is where we are heading, and I believe it should be, then a reactor fueled with LEU is safer in every respect than one fueled with HEU.

Nonetheless, in 2040 if we have the first of a nuclear-powered submarine fleet, that will be a good development in that the submarine will have range and capabilities a diesel/electric boat does not.

But the way we are getting there has been clumsy, deceitful, and costly. Too many questions are not being asked, and fewer answered. The blustering attempts to wedge those who seek answers do not serve our national interest.

Our national security does not rely on fleets and armies alone. And that is just as well, for we will never have military might to match that of potential rivals.

Echoing our 2017 Foreign Affairs White Paper[7], as Marise Payne said on Monday “Australia is respected when we engage with the region honestly and consistently.”[8]

Diplomacy matters, and at the heart of diplomacy is trust. Australia’s reputation as a trusted and reliable partner has been an enormous asset to us on the international stage, just as a trustworthy reputation is an enormous asset to someone in business.

Some of you may have read the transcript (fairly accurate) of my notorious phone call with Donald Trump in January 2017 in which I persuaded him to stick to the refugee resettlement deal I had struck with President Obama. My argument was that America had given its word, and he should stick to it. When he suggested I had broken agreements in my business life, I said that I had not. Furious he may have been, but Trump did not renege on the deal.

Imagine if he had been able to say, “How about the time you double crossed the French?”

It was only a few years ago that our partnership with France was to be one for generations. As the sun set over Sydney Harbour in March 2018, from the deck of HMAS Canberra, President Macron described the partnership with Australia as the cornerstone of France’s Indo Pacific strategy. This was not just a contract to build submarines, it was a partnership between two nations in which France chose to entrust Australia with its most sensitive military secrets – the design of their latest submarines.

France is an Indo Pacific power. With two million citizens and 7,000 troops across the two oceans, drawing closer to France as a security partner made enormous sense both for us and the United States.

France is the world’s sixth (and the EU’s second) largest economy, a permanent member of the Security Council, a nuclear weapons state with its own nuclear technology for energy, naval propulsion and weapons. With Merkel’s retirement, Macron will be the most influential of the EU leaders. Always inclined to protectionism, France became a strong supporter of our bid for an FTA with the EU, invited Australia (for the first time) to the G7 and aligned its Indo Pacific strategy, and ultimately that of the EU, to ours.

Mr Morrison has not acted in good faith. He deliberately deceived France. He makes no defense of his conduct other than to say it was in Australia’s national interest. So, is that Mr Morrison’s ethical standard with which Australia is now tagged.: Australia will act honestly unless it is judged in our national interest to deceive?

It was as recently as 30 August that our Defence and Foreign Ministers met with their French counterparts and publicly re-emphasised the importance of the submarine programme. Two weeks later, on the day Mr Morrison dumped the President of France with a text message, the Department of Defence formally advised Naval Group that the project was on track and ready to enter into the next set of contracts.

The media has been gleefully briefed that Mr Morrison struck the deal with Boris Johnson and Joe Biden at the G20 in July shortly before going to Paris where the PM confirmed to President Macron his continuing commitment to the submarine deal.

France’s Foreign Minister has described Australia’s conduct as a stab in the back, a betrayal. Macron recalled his Ambassadors to Canberra and Washington. Dan Tehan can’t get a meeting with the French Trade Minister any more than he can with the Chinese Trade Minister.

France’s Europe Minister has already poured cold water on the prospects of concluding an EU-Australian free trade agreement. Australia has proved it can’t be trusted, he has said.

France believes it has been deceived and humiliated, and she was. This betrayal of trust will dog our relations with Europe for years. The Australian Government has treated the French Republic with contempt. It won’t be forgotten. Every time we seek to persuade another nation to trust us, somebody will be saying “Remember what they did to Macron? If they can throw France under a bus, what would they do to us?”

So, what should have been done? The conventional/nuclear debate was hardly news. Morrison could have told the truth. He could have said to Macron that we wanted to explore the potential for acquiring nuclear powered submarines. Macron would have been supportive. The French Government had already invited such a discussion. The Americans, who were supplying the weapons system, should have been engaged. President Biden has acknowledged this has been mishandled and that there should have been “open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners.”[9]

If after that honest discussion it was concluded that we could not use a French reactor, the inclusion of a US or British reactor could have been considered. Let us assume that after this discussion the conclusion was that only a US or UK submarine would do. If the contract was terminated at that point, nobody could say Australia had been dishonest or sneaky. France would be disappointed, but not betrayed, disrespected or humiliated.

Morrison’s response is to say that he could not be open and honest with Macron because the French might have run to Washington and urged Biden not to do the deal. That tells you a lot about how confident he is about the commitment of the Americans.

As Paul Kelly records[10] (with approbation), Scott Morrison deliberately and elaborately set out to persuade the French their deal was on foot and proceeding until he knew he had an alternative deal whereupon he dumped the French and his deceitful conduct was exposed.

Despite this awkward birth, I hope that AUKUS turns out to be a great success. It should be. We are already the closest of friends and allies – none closer.

As Prime Minister I argued we should not see our region as a series of spokes connected to Washington or Beijing but rather as a mesh where nations like Australia would build their security by stronger ties with all our neighbours – great and small. This approach delivered a much stronger relationship with Indonesia and most nations of ASEAN. It secured in 2017 a commitment from the four leaders to revive the Quadrilateral dialogue between India, Japan, Australia and the USA. In the same year, with Shinzo Abe, we were able to defy the doubters (at home and abroad) and conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership without the United States.

Throughout this time, and since, our security alliance and cooperation with the United States became stronger and more intense. But we always made our own decisions. Of course, our rivals and critics have said Australia will always fall in with the US. Years ago, the foreign minister of one of our neighbours said to me, “If Australia is seen as just a branch office of the US, why should we take much time with you – better to talk direct to head office.”

If we want to have influence in our region we must be trusted. Our word must be our bond. We must be seen to have an independent foreign policy and sovereign defence capabilities. We need to have, develop and retain relationships with other nations, in our region and beyond – like the TPP – which are not simply derivatives of our alliance with the United States.

And at the heart of all this is trust.

[1] 7,400 t, 97 m length, crew 98

[2] 10,200 t, 140 m length, crew 132 (Block V)

[3] https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/17/justin-trudeau-criticism-aukus-canada-federal-election

[4] 4500 t, 97 m length, crew 60

[5]Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board members appointed – Defence Connect

[6] Well explained by Greg Sheridan in The Australian 4 March 2021 “Short of Nuclear Subs We won’t do better than these”

[7] Foreign Affairs White Paper, 2017 p.17 “We cannot impose our views or our will overseas. Our ability to protect and advance our interests rests on the quality of our engagement with the world. This includes the ideas we bring to the table, our ability to persuade others our point of view and the strength of the relationships we build with other governments and, increasingly, with influential non- government actors.”

[8] Sydney Morning Herald 27 September 2021

[9] Joint Statement on the Phone Call between President Biden and President Macron, 22 September 2021.

[10] Diplomatic test isn’t the French, it’s Beijing.” By Paul Kelly, The Australian 27 September 2021

‘Quad’ leaders bat for ‘free & open’ Indo-Pacific; warn against use of Afghan territory for terrorism

Quad summit in progress. Photo- ANI

By SAT News Desk

WASHINGTON/MELBOURNE, 26 September 2021: Quad leaders, US President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister N. Modi, and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have in a joint summit communique called upon for a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific, directed at China, though it is not named. The leaders’ summit on Friday (24 September 2021) in Washington DC, discussed many issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and critical and emerging technologies.

The Quad also welcomed India’s announcement to resume exports of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, including to COVAX, beginning in October 2021. On the climate front, the Quad countries decided to work together for successful outcomes at the COP26 and G20 that uphold the level of climate ambition and innovation. It announced the launch of Quad Principles on Technology Design, Development, Governance, and Use that to guide not only the region but the world towards responsible, open, high-standards innovation.

The communique says, “In South Asia, we will closely coordinate our diplomatic, economic, and human-rights policies towards Afghanistan and will deepen our counter-terrorism and humanitarian cooperation in the months ahead in accordance with UNSCR 2593. We reaffirm that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist acts, and reiterate the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan. We denounce the use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks. We stand together in support of Afghan nationals, and call on the Taliban to provide safe passage to any person wishing to leave Afghanistan, and to ensure that the human rights of all Afghans, including women, children, and minorities are respected.

Quad leaders at the summit.Photo-ANI

The communique concludes: ” At a time that tests us all, our commitment to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific is firm, and our vision for this partnership remains ambitious and far-reaching. With steadfast cooperation, we rise to meet this moment, together.

China had reacted sharply against the recently formed AUKUS, comprising of the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom. A pre Quad meeting article in the Global Times said, ” While the Quad mechanism is engaged in splitting Asia and instigating various forces to contain China if Japan, India and Australia went too far in following the US strategy of containing China, they will become cannon fodder as China will resolutely safeguard its interests, Chinese analysts warned.”

China’s reaction to the Quad leaders’ communique is awaited.