The last week has thrown up some thorny political issues. Firstly there was Christian Porter, thinking it was okay to accept bucket loads of cash, from anonymous donors, to pay a personal account.
As the previous Minister in charge of drafting the National Integrity Commission bill, one would hope that he would understand what those words actually meant. He delayed that bill for over one thousand days; it was never finished. And now we are relying on Michaelia Cash to step up. Good luck with that!
Porter sued the ABC for defamation. When the ABC presented its defence, Porter then went to court to suppress that defence. That cost even more money. I’m sure most of us would have the native common sense to find out what the costs would be, before engaging two teams of fancy lawyers. There is an old saying that if you have to ask what something costs, you probably can’t afford it, anyway.
We were then exposed to one of the biggest cop-outs in our history. We heard the Prime Minister’s pathetic approach to accountability, and leadership. Morrison stated that Porter “upheld the Ministerial code of conduct” by breaking it, and then by resigning, because he broke it.
He then went on to say that he wasn’t the boss of parliament, but only the boss of the Ministry. That would be news to every other PM in history. It is an excellent reason why the current PM should actually call an election, and see how we feel about him, and his team of clowns.
Porter is to be replaced in the portfolio of Industry, Innovation and Science by Angus Taylor. Taylor is the Minister who has a pathological aversion to wind-farms, and he also believes that the ute is about to be made illegal. The Chaser website says that Taylor is the least qualified Minister for Science, since the last Minister, Porter. We should tell him the new submarines are powered by gas.
Then we had the submarines controversy. We broke a huge contract with a close ally, but we didn’t bother to tell them beforehand. Mr Morrison said there was no way Australia could have been more transparent with the French, without potentially derailing the highly sensitive deal with the US and Britain. But do not despair-he did try to ring them, the night before the announcement, but he couldn’t get through. Oh well. There goes a century of good relations with the French. We should remind Morrison that it was our choice to order the submarines. We were not hoodwinked into it.
So Morrison said we had to be sneaky, but the Defence Minister, Peter Dutton, who will be an old man when the first nuclear submarine arrives in Australia, stated that Australia had been “open and honest” with the French about its concerns with the project, which had been beset by cost blow-outs and delays.
This is a tricky situation. Morrison’s word v Dutton’s word. This was a $90 billion contract, and we have already spent $2.4 billion on it, now down the drain. There will also be huge break fees, a broken relationship, the possible loss of a free trade agreement with the EU, but Morrison gets to boast about being America’s deputy again. We could have bought lots of hospitals, but hey. Everyone loves a nuclear sub.
He also committed us to nuclear power, with no debate in Parliament. We decided that we were possibly going to war against China, if Washington says so. We will not see a submarine until at least 2040. So we have gone from having no modern submarines, to having no nuclear submarines. We do not yet know the price. At all.
Someone should explain to Morrison that when you buy expensive military hardware, you are not buying them from our so-called ‘friends’, the Americans, but from a multi-national arms dealer.
In 2002, the Howard government ignored military advice that it was too soon to join the F-35 program, and directed the “Air 6000” program to settle on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The expected cost was $28 million per fighter in 1994 US dollars. Imagine what inflation has done to those prices already. Imagine the price for submarines in twenty years. Food for thought. Our Liberal Prime Ministers seem to have a bit of a thing for American weapons. Maybe they should just grow up. This was just a clumsy attempt to look busy, and important, in the lead-up to a looming election. Strewth!