Via The Guardian:
Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he has sought information from Australia’s intelligence agencies about the implications of the chair of parliament’s intelligence committee publicly revealing details of an FBI investigation provided by American officials in a private briefing.
It comes as the governor of the reserve bank, Philip Lowe, called for Australia to “avoid escalating issues” with China during a speech in Sydney on Wednesday night.
Facing questions about his knowledge of Andrew Hastie’s decision to use parliamentary privilege on Tuesday night to name one of Australia’s biggest political donors as the person funding the bribery of a senior United Nations official, Turnbull continued to insist he had no prior warning of the contribution.
Asked by Bill Shorten in the House whether he had sought information from intelligence agencies after Hastie’s speech “about the implications of publicly sharing the details of an FBI investigation which has been provided by our ally”, Turnbull replied: “Yes, I have.”
Asked whether Hastie was authorised to disclose information about an FBI investigation that was obtained during confidential briefings in the United States, Turnbull said his understanding was the briefing was “not classified” and had also been attended by Labor members of the intelligence committee.
As Shorten pursued the line of inquiry during question time on Wednesday, one government MP interjected to the Labor leader: “Whose side are you on?”
Is Phil Lowe and the central bank now the diplomat of last resort? What if deeper understanding means we need to escalate issues? Perhaps a little receding diplomatic liquidity is exactly what Australian democracy needs. Either way it sure isn’t the business of the RBA to comment.
The Chinese dictator jumped the shark in his push to control Australia. All he had to do was to keep quietly buying houses and we were goners. Australia’s clique of insider economists were falling over themselves to hand it to him. Recall former RBA member Professor Warwick McKibbin several years ago:
Obsessed by weak commodity prices and volatility in global financial markets to the point of not thinking about the future?
Don’t be, advises top economist and former Reserve Bank of Australia board member Warwick McKibbin.
Australia is better placed than most countries to benefit from long-term global trends – such as population ageing, fiscal adjustments and the shift in economic clout from Europe to Asia, Professor McKibbin says.
…”If you have got something like a fixed asset in a country and you are globalising the entire world then location becomes a valuable asset.”
“Real estate on Sydney harbour for example is also from a national point of view attractive. But for foreign investors it’s also very attractive because there’s billions of dollars of wealth being generated in China.
“The middle class is expanding, and they’re going to want to buy things, environmental goods – they’re going to want to buy stuff which we actually have in abundance. But much of it is fixed assets so you can’t change the supply of it, and so therefore it’s value is likely to go up a lot.”
But it will also drive up the real exchange rate, hurting the competitiveness of trade-exposed industries such as tourism – currently enjoying good growth with a lower Aussie dollar – and manufacturing. A stronger dollar means Australian goods and services are more expensive for foreigners while competing foreign goods and services are cheaper for Australians.
Instead the Dictator closed his capital account and rescued us from the appalling McKibbin dystopia.
The Dictator’s mistakes have mushroomed since. The Dastayari Affair and its high profile apologists are now objects of such rising concern that they have birthed foreign interference laws. These have been held up by the usual Coalition ineptitude but they will come.
In this context, the apologists of yesteryear – Raby, Carr, Forrest, Laurenceson – appear more and more corrupted in their praise of the Dictator. They’ve gone from free runs for their media propaganda to alienating public outbursts of fascist ideas, kowtowing junkets and panicked op-eds. We get more of that today from Laurenceson who blames the deterioration entirely upon Australia:
Firstly, China’s rise has been “so rapid” that it’s shocked Australian defence and security officials who are seemingly “uncomfortable” with the challenge this has posed to American hegemony, Dr Laurenceson said.
Secondly, Donald Trump’s presidency in the US has made Australia feel “more vulnerable”.
“That means we are more sensitive to countries that we are not particularly familiar with such as China.”
Thirdly, the Turnbull government has publicly highlighted the risk China has posed to its national security because Australia is “not in a position of political strength”, Dr Laurenceson said.
It is “not unusual for Australian governments to focus on issues around national security when they’re in a politically vulnerable position”, he added.
No mention at all of the Chinese bribery push, upon which his institute was founded.
No wonder the defense establishment has moved from alert to alarm and is now actively pushing the debate away from Chinese soft power engagement towards US hard power. This is how you should view the excellent work of Andrew Hastie yesterday.
As the blow back to the “silent invasion” has developed, the Dictator appears to have lost patience and, rather than taking stock for a longer run battle, has now gotten himself into a persistent slanging match with the Australian people. Via his media Chinese media mouthpiece, the Dictator now delivers daily threats to Australia that is formalising a welcome Sino/Strayan schism:
China does not have to throw away Sino-Australia relations. China just needs to slow their relationship for a period. For example, it will not be necessary for the Australian Prime Minister to visit China this year. In fact, he could visit a few years later. China’s ministerial officials, other than those with the economic and trade departments, could postpone interactions with Australia.
Non-government related exchanges between the two nations should be maintained. Chinese students and tourists in Australia should not be bothered.
China has promised to increase its imports from the US, according to the recently-concluded Sino-US trade talks. It is reasonable to cut a few imports from Australia to implement the China-US trade agreement. It will benefit China anyway. By doing so, China will be able to keep its promise to the US, and while helping Australia to reconsider the ways in which they can balance relations with their Western allies and China’s interests.
Metal ore is Australia’s major export to China. As long as China is in need of the metal exports, and a replacement remains difficult to find, they will continue to import them. But when it comes to wine and beef, China can easily import those items from the US, replacing Australia.
The scope of import reductions could be limited. Last year, Australia exported $76.45 billion in goods to China. Lowering Aussie exports by $6.45 billion would send cold chills up and down the spine of Australia. Of course, it would be an even greater shock if the import reductions totaled $10 billion.
China has been very friendly toward Australia, but their arrogant attitudes in return over the past two years have become a virtual example of what it means to “bite the hand that feeds.”
Australia’s image among Chinese people has grown increasingly negative due to its warped accusations hurled at China. China does not need to spend time and effort seeking out revenge against Australia.
The cooling of bilateral relations between the two may last for a while, perhaps a few years or even longer. It will be a good lesson for Australia to learn, while also setting a precedent for other nations to follow in that there are no benefits for any country that chooses to take provocative measures against China.
Perhaps most worrying is Labor’s response, via Domainfax:
Fairfax Media has been told some Labor MPs were angry at Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s decision to pursue the government over Andrew Hastie’s surprise move, and that some regarded it as a breakdown in traditional bipartisanship on sensitive national security issues.
This has deepened tensions on the key Parliamentary security committee that Mr Hastie chairs and which is examining the foreign interference laws, with a meeting set for Thursday being cancelled, Fairfax Media understands.
Labor MP Anthony Byrne, who is the deputy chair of the committee, was in the chamber when Mr Hastie gave his speech. As he gave leave to Mr Hastie to table US documents relating the bribery case, Mr Byrne said: “Leave is most definitely granted in support of my friend and colleague.”
Fairfax Media has been told there was disagreement within Labor over whether to pursue Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull politically over Mr Hastie’s speech. One Labor MP who opposed pursuing the government “absolutely did his head” about the decision, according to an opposition source.
That does not bode well for national security nor democratic integrity under Bill Shorten.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.
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