What is this “war with China” of which you speak, Mr White?

Endless China fanboi, High White, penned a great piece at The Saturday Paper that summarised the nuclear debates over the weekend:

If Australia’s submarines were intended primarily to defend Australia and our closer neighbours, then there is no way we’d consider nuclear propulsion. But the navy decided many years ago that the primary role for our new boats should be to operate off the coast of China in co-operation with the US Navy, and the government has eagerly gone along. That required a submarine that was bigger and more complex than any conventional sub in the world, with attributes only found in nuclear-powered boats. It was the attempt to satisfy these demands that led us to the highly problematic French deal, which has now imploded so spectacularly.

Under the new AUKUS arrangement, announced on Thursday, Australia will get access to highly sensitive nuclear propulsion technology that will allow us to go nuclear ourselves. The plan is to build eight boats in South Australia, based either on the American Virginia-class or the British Astute-class designs. Scott Morrison said the decision will be made after an 18-month process to explore and assess all the issues and options involved.

In some ways switching to nuclear power makes a kind of sense – but only if we really need the highly ambitious capabilities that have driven us to this step, and are now driving us further and further into bigger and more complex boats. You can see this by looking simply at the size of the submarines we are talking about. The Collins class are 3000 tonnes. The now-abandoned French-designed Attack class were going to be 4500 tonnes. The American and British that we are now looking at are more than 7000 tonnes.

…Then there is timing. The PM has acknowledged that we will now not see the first of the new nuclear-powered submarines in service before 2040. Even if all goes well, that means we will not have replaced the six Collins-class boats until after 2050, and will not have 12 boats in service until the mid-2060s. That is just way too slow when our strategic circumstances are changing so fast. We need a much bigger submarine capacity, much sooner.

…What should we do instead? First, we should recognise, as our neighbours in South-East Asia do, that confronting and containing China won’t work. Whether we like it or not, we are going to have to live with China’s power and growing influence. That doesn’t mean doing whatever China says, but it does mean stepping back from Washington’s policy of trying to push back China by threatening war.

Second, we should be building forces to defend ourselves without relying on the US, rather than deepening our dependency in an ally that, for all its tough talk, is becoming less and less credible. That means buying submarines and other systems that work cost-effectively to defend ourselves, not serve our allies – which means buying conventional rather than nuclear submarines.

And third, we should step back and think about our long-term future as a country. Thirty years ago Bob Hawke and Paul Keating said Australia had no choice but to stop looking for our security from Asia and start looking for it in Asia. That remains true, and it is the very opposite of turning back the clock to the days of Robert Menzies and his two Anglo-Saxon “great and powerful friends”.

But that is exactly what Morrison has done this week. He has tied Australia to a deal that undermines our sovereign capabilities, overspends on hardware we can barely be confident of operating, and drags us closer to the front line of a war we may have no interest in fighting.

Some good points there. The timeframe is very screwed up. We should buy them from America instead and develop a nuclear support industry around them. The SA construction plan for all the subs has been political from the beginning, seeking to substitute for a car industry that the Coalition stupidly killed.

As for this “war with China” that Hugh speaks of, which one does he mean? Is it the war over Taiwan? Which is less likely to be fought the stronger that we, and it, are. Moreover, that war should not be fought and the US has no treaty with Taiwan for that very reason.

Is it some grand contest for the entire Indo-Pacific? China, North Korea, Iran and Pakistan versus the rest? That’s not a war that China can win. Simply block up its commodity import routes and it starves while its economy collapses.

Is it the war for the South Pacific? For the Australian mainland? Nuclear subs would be better for the former. Arguably conventional boats for the latter. But what’s the good of that if the Chinese military is dominant across the Indo-Pacific? We’ve already lost at that point.

And is the US the aggressor here? China has militarised the South China Sea. China has stolen industrial bases worldwide. China has launched the plague, soft power takeovers and wolf warriors onto the world.

Or is Hugh referring to China’s soft power war? The alternative of offering China the space to be itself in the region is appalling and also violent. Every state in Asia will be occupied by a Chinese elite that rules as Beijing’s proxy. That will result in civil wars everywhere.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Coalition could not run a piss up in a brewery and the sinking subs is the direct result of its ineptitude.

But that is no reason to give in to the Chinese tyranny.

Houses and Holes
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Comments

    • There is little evidence to support the notion that economic interdependence helps prevent war. In 1914, Germany ended up going to war with its two largest trading partners, Britain and Russia.

      The same pattern was evident before World War II. In the inter-war period, Germany had been by far the largest trading partner of the Soviet Union, but that did not stop the two countries from going to war.

  1. Can’t we use the Holden plant to build these FFS?! Then, we can re-engineer them as V8 Super subs, flood the valley around Mount Panorama once a year with Angus Taylor’s water rations, and race our subs vs the US, French and Chinese subs, in a winner takes all pay per view extravaganza! This would solve all political and economic problems as we reap a mega tax on the betting pool! You know it makes sense…

  2. C'est de la folieMEMBER

    My take too on the Hugh White piece in the Saturday Paper.

    I thought his piece was pretty much spot on – with the key point being whether we are supporting the US trying to dominate Asia (which i dont think they are) or are supporting the US curtailing China spreading their view via maritime means and retaining the ability to support nations in Asia (which i think more the gameplan and tend to support).

    From the submarine to the ridiculous
    Hugh White, SEPTEMBER 18 – 24, 2021 | No. 367
    https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2021/09/18/the-submarine-the-ridiculous/163188720012499#mtr

    The old plan was to build a conventionally powered version of a nuclear-powered French submarine. It was crazy. The new plan – to buy a nuclear-powered submarine instead – is worse. It will make the replacement of the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of Collins-class boats riskier, costlier and slower. It means an even bigger slump in our submarine capability over the next few dangerous decades. And it deepens our commitment to the United States’ military confrontation of China, which has little chance of success and carries terrifying risks.

    Hugh goes straight to some salient points. The old plan was crazy. Going with the American or UK nuclear powered subs carries an awful lot of risk we may not be factoring in, including joining in with the US at points we may no longer want to do so – and it does mean our submarine based defence capability is going to be degraded for longer (potentially opening a window of opportunity for an aggressor – lets call it China – to get in while the going is good). Whether it is a ‘worse’ decision or not is in the lap of the Gods.

    There is a reason why only six countries, all of them nuclear-armed, operate nuclear-powered subs. For everyone else their advantages, especially higher range and speed, do not outweigh their much greater costs. Nuclear propulsion makes perfect sense for nuclear-armed ballistic missile subs, and for the “hunter–killer” subs that are designed to track and destroy them. But for other tasks, especially for operating against enemy shipping, conventionally powered diesel–electric subs are more cost-effective.

    If Australia’s submarines were intended primarily to defend Australia and our closer neighbours, then there is no way we’d consider nuclear propulsion. But the navy decided many years ago that the primary role for our new boats should be to operate off the coast of China in co-operation with the US Navy, and the government has eagerly gone along. That required a submarine that was bigger and more complex than any conventional sub in the world, with attributes only found in nuclear-powered boats. It was the attempt to satisfy these demands that led us to the highly problematic French deal, which has now imploded so spectacularly.

    Under the new AUKUS arrangement, announced on Thursday, Australia will get access to highly sensitive nuclear propulsion technology that will allow us to go nuclear ourselves. The plan is to build eight boats in South Australia, based either on the American Virginia-class or the British Astute-class designs. Scott Morrison said the decision will be made after an 18-month process to explore and assess all the issues and options involved.

    Nothing to quibble with there. Nuclear subs are expensive. The capability he is talking about is ‘strategic strike’ – not so much parking subs anywhere near China – and Australia went that way years ago (when White was an advisor to Hawke). The reason the French subs were chosen back in 2015 was because the French have experience in running subs out into the Atlantic and parking missiles on them, whereas the Japanese subs were about knocking off ships and subs in relatively shallow waters near Japan and it was felt that making the adjustments to the Japanese subs to make them operate the way the RAN would want was going to be more expensive than massaging the French sub to do the same. That isn’t to say the 2015 decision wasn’t an expensive exercise in pork barrelling by an SA Defence Minister looking to shore up jobs in Adelaide – just that there was a half plausible rationale for it. He is quite right the decision could have been made to go nuclear then. If….the 64 billion dollar question…..we needed to do so.

    In some ways switching to nuclear power makes a kind of sense – but only if we really need the highly ambitious capabilities that have driven us to this step, and are now driving us further and further into bigger and more complex boats. You can see this by looking simply at the size of the submarines we are talking about. The Collins class are 3000 tonnes. The now-abandoned French-designed Attack class were going to be 4500 tonnes. The American and British that we are now looking at are more than 7000 tonnes.

    That is a lot of boat, and they are very capable. But those capabilities carry immense penalties. Start with cost. The prime minister has acknowledged that the new plan will cost even more than the old one, and the numbers will be cut from 12 to eight. At an estimated $80 billion for 12 boats, the French program was already staggeringly expensive. International comparisons make it clear we could build large, modern, conventionally powered subs for half that price. We could have twice as many submarines in service for the same amount of money if we scrapped the French but stayed with conventional power and didn’t go nuclear. Now we will have only eight boats. That’s a big operational loss, because numbers really count in battle.

    Completely agree with him here. They are very big pieces of kit and they are very expensive and the real questions is Do we need them?

    Then there is timing. The PM has acknowledged that we will now not see the first of the new nuclear-powered submarines in service before 2040. Even if all goes well, that means we will not have replaced the six Collins-class boats until after 2050, and will not have 12 boats in service until the mid-2060s. That is just way too slow when our strategic circumstances are changing so fast. We need a much bigger submarine capacity, much sooner.

    And that timetable may well slip, too. All subs are complex, but nuclear subs are doubly so, and Australia has no expertise at all in this form of propulsion, and very little expertise in nuclear engineering to build on. No decision has been made on what design we will buy – on whether we will buy an existing British or American design “off-the-shelf” or develop a modified design of our own. Even an off-the-shelf design would be risky, and any modifications would make it far more so. Then the challenge of building these boats in Australia, as the government remains committed to do, is daunting. Long delays are very likely, so we must prudently expect to wait to the mid 2040s for the new subs to enter service.

    Until then the government is relying on the old Collins-class boats to fill the gap. They plan a major upgrade to extend the Collins’ operational life, but that project also is complex and risky, and it is only now getting under way. There is no way to avoid a serious drop in capability in the 2030s, and a real risk that fumbles in the Collins upgrade and delays in the new nuclear boats will see our submarine force disappear for a while.

    He is right here too. We have no nuclear engineering expertise, and the need to upgrade the Collins class will be very expensive as well. What he is also pointing to is the scope for a degraded capability with regard to Australian submarines period which may result in China seeing a window of opportunity. That isn’t necessarily likely, but possible – and presumably will be papered over with US or UK subs doing extra rounds of the Indian and Pacific Oceans for a while.

    Then there is the challenge of operating and maintaining nuclear-powered submarines safely. This is an immensely complex and demanding responsibility, and would impose huge responsibilities on the navy, which has struggled in recent years to operate much simpler systems. No doubt the government and the navy intend to rely heavily on Britain and the US to help, but therein lies a problem. Apart from cost and delay, opting for nuclear subs deepens our dependence on the US and Britain, and that carries real strategic risks in the tense and fast-changing power politics of our region. So much for the government’s much-touted sovereign submarine capability.

    It is a big step for the US to agree to share, and to allow Britain to share, its nuclear-propulsion technology with Australia. They have never done that before with anyone else. Their reason has nothing to do with the boilerplate talk of shared values and mutual commitment to a free and open Indo–Pacific. It has everything to do with the US’s hard-nosed strategic interest to tie us in more closely to its military strategy against China.

    Washington wants Australia to be able to do more – much more – to support them in a war with China. It is therefore in America’s interest to see us invest in forces designed for that, and nuclear-powered submarines fit their needs perfectly. The government would argue this is in our interests, too, because we must depend on the US to resist China’s threatening ambitions, so we should do all we can to help them.

    Agree with all that too. It is a big step for the US – and there is plenty in it for them. I do find it interesting however that he doesn’t relate the gift of the technology as a potential recognition that the strategic capability of the submarine platform may have a shelf life which is shortening. As satellites and maybe even drones become more capable of identifying what is under the water the scope for Submarines to hide will be likely to diminish. That for sure isn’t here yet, but given the rate of advances in satellite technology – particularly by China, and with Russian expertise feeding in – it would be the sort of field that would experience a sudden transition from Submarines being able to hide quite well up until a day when someone unveils a new satellite which can scan waters quite effectively – at which point all of the investment in submarines becomes less cost effective. Australia will be hoping that moment doesn’t come while it is still paying off very expensive pieces of submarine kit.

    But putting all our eggs in America’s basket is only a good strategy if the US is sure to win the contest with China over which of them will dominate Asia in the decades ahead, and if its interests in the region will always align with ours. That is far from assured. Scott Morrison may refer to our alliance as the “forever relationship”, but nothing is forever in power politics. The US faces an immense challenge in confronting and containing China in its own backyard. It is the most formidable rival the country has ever faced, and it will demand huge sacrifices to defeat.

    This is where I start to wonder about White’s thinking. On the one hand I would be inclined to defer to his superior awareness and knowledge, but on the other I find myself thinking/wondering if the US position is not so much about who will ‘dominate Asia in the decades ahead’ – as much as a position of pretty much acknowledging that it will be China dominating Asia in the decades ahead, but wanting to ensure that such domination does not extend to the rest of the world via maritime means, while also retaining an ability to support American efforts to support whatever allies it has in the Asia region.

    That would no doubt be in the face of Chinese intention to limit the ability of the US Navy in particular to either threaten China or to support anti Chinese sentiment in Asia. While I do think any involvement in military engagement in Asia pretty crazy from an Australian (but also American or British) point of view, I don’t think it crazy for Australia to be a part of efforts to limit Chinese coercion or threats beyond Asia and also to be able to support allies closer to China in Asia.

    We have seen tough talk out of Washington now for a decade about its determination to take China on. But so far we have seen no sign that US voters or their leaders are really willing to bear the burdens and pay the costs involved. On the contrary, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, in their different ways, have made it clear that when push comes to shove they have little appetite for the obligations of global leadership. We in Australia simply cannot plan our future on the assumption that the US will always be there for us, no matter how many nuclear subs we buy.

    And if the US, by miscalculation, does find itself at war with China, we absolutely cannot assume that it would win. That must, surely, enter our calculations about whether we commit ourselves to fighting alongside America. And yet that is what we are increasingly doing.

    He is on the money here. Maintaining military forces is expensive, and we should be asking if we can afford what we seemingly want to be party to – with an economy revolving around commodity exports to China and real estate speculation at the moment (the only way that sort of potential military engagement makes any sense is if we are about to develop very serious technological and manufacturing capability to be able to give us edges, and presumably that would relate to the scale of demand for such capability in Australia).

    We certainly couldn’t assume the Americans would necessarily win. But at the same time we should also be thinking of the circumstances in which the Chinese would ‘win’ too. At the moment they have a major demographic issue in China with ageing and with the gender balance they have (more men than women). Other nations in Asia have other dynamics on these issues, meaning that over differing timeframes other nations who may potentially be allied to the US would offer differing levels of support in addressing (with or without actual war) any potential China threat. So the question of whether the Americans are planning to ‘win’ may not be one of them ‘winning’ anything but rather facilitating other nations beginning to shape their strategic environments more proactively (with US support related to that).

    What should we do instead? First, we should recognise, as our neighbours in South-East Asia do, that confronting and containing China won’t work. Whether we like it or not, we are going to have to live with China’s power and growing influence. That doesn’t mean doing whatever China says, but it does mean stepping back from Washington’s policy of trying to push back China by threatening war.

    That sounds great at one level, but at another it means some fishermen rock up to islands where they have been going for generations and discovering there is a Chinese naval base there. China is often fairly aggressive with these nations too. They all have Chinese money playing a part in their political processes, and all have Chinese security types in and about. I agree with the Latin dictum of Si vis pacem, para bellum. Only nutters actually want war, but laying down on a regular enough basis makes it more likely, and only feeds the appetite of the side you are likely to be engaging with. The question for Australia, and many of the nations closer to China, is ‘to what extent are the Chinese threatening war?’

    Second, we should be building forces to defend ourselves without relying on the US, rather than deepening our dependency in an ally that, for all its tough talk, is becoming less and less credible. That means buying submarines and other systems that work cost-effectively to defend ourselves, not serve our allies – which means buying conventional rather than nuclear submarines.

    These are perfectly valid points. But which seemingly fly in the face of our politicians for a generation deciding that our armed forces should be used mainly as an adjunct for US or coalition of the willing type arrangements a long way from Australia. The issue of our ability to scientifically and technologically support ourselves and a manufacturing capacity to support that too comes in about here. We have spent a generation quite deliberately getting rid of much scientific and technological capacity, while holding the pillow over manufacturing, to embed housing speculation and visa sales though the education sector. If we are maintaining a regional position as part of a team then that is one thing. If we are structuring a military to handle primarily domestic operations (and an adversary coming to play us at home, or have a pop at us here and be able to defend against that) that is another.

    Part of the ‘defence of Australia’ argument is that the other regional nations near us pose no threat to us and that the only real potential threat would need to travel across nations to threaten us. So it does cause wonder when seeing that the Indonesians seem peeved by the AUKUS announcement – though presumably it will help firm their position vis the Chinese over the longer term.

    And third, we should step back and think about our long-term future as a country. Thirty years ago Bob Hawke and Paul Keating said Australia had no choice but to stop looking for our security from Asia and start looking for it in Asia. That remains true, and it is the very opposite of turning back the clock to the days of Robert Menzies and his two Anglo-Saxon “great and powerful friends”.

    But that is exactly what Morrison has done this week. He has tied Australia to a deal that undermines our sovereign capabilities, overspends on hardware we can barely be confident of operating, and drags us closer to the front line of a war we may have no interest in fighting.

    The AUKUS announcement does seem a very turning back the clock kind of deal – and only one of the friends is ‘great and powerful’ and may well be becoming less so (though there may well be plenty of power left in the tank too). There is also the question of whether a threat to Australia has developed in the era since the Hawke Keating government had us looking for security in Asia. That one has developed is fairly obvious and that it is a China related threat is equally obvious. The question is about to what extent it is a threat, and to what extent it is something Australia should be prepared to do something about. And from there to what should Australia actually do in the face of that threat.

    There is a case for seeing the AUKUS deal as of a duration of about 35 years from when the submarines at its core become part of Australian capability. So that has us out about to maybe 2070 or 2080.

    Over that period of time we can expect that China will become a far more economically and politically powerful player than it is even now, and it is in Chinese hands how it plays that power, and how positive an experience it is for nations close to it. Some of those nations are no doubt dubious, while others will no doubt see opportunity.

    At the same time China will face challenges over that time, including the economic challenge of providing for its people while retaining economic engagement with the rest of the world – as well as the deliberation over the extent to which the benefits of that economic engagement are shared both internally in China, but also as with the economies and societies of other nations. If the relationship becomes exploitative then it would be logical to expect that some form of resistance is going to evolve, and if some form of resistance evolves then the diplomacy and the military capability and posturing that involves lends itself to alliances and capabilities like those implied by AUKUS

    Here are a couple of charts which should be seen in view of the AUKUS announcement. They go quite some way to explaining Australia and the UK’s involvement.

    The first is the major seaborne traffic through the South China Sea and Indian Oceans (not the preponderance of shipping going straight to the Persian Gulf and back to China. The location of India astride that is likely a supreme source of concern to the Chinese, and the very obvious choke point of the Straits of Malacca would be right up there too, and that’s after shipping clears the South China Sea.

    The US has a major strategic base at Diego Garcia, and Cocos and Christmas Islands (with Darwin) effectively provide Maritime surveillance across the Sumatra Malaya Singapore region. Adding HMAS Stirling (Fremantle) as a major supply and refitting venue amplifies Diego Garcia. Submarines based out of Fremantle and Diego Garcia would logically be able to cover most of SE Asia and the Indian Ocean strategically and would provide ample interdiction threat to any Chinese shipping as well – it is probably 50 – 75 years before China puts anything into the water to address that, and more than likely they will never even try (at least until they have satellite capacity which can scan oceans and provide security for a fleet) – my guess would be to double up the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China with an oil pipeline, maybe even another from Russia, but they will always be subject to the volatile Central Asian states, and the Chinese could also be sure they wont be nailing the Russians to the floor for gas and crude again the way they have in the recent past. AUKUS does have some scope to be more than irritating for the CCP

    • Even StevenMEMBER

      All good comments. I keep coming back to the prospect that in 20 or 30 years we may have something akin to autonomous submersibles which would make partly redundant the use of full-fledged submarines.

      However, perhaps I’m dreaming.

      Maybe you just can’t pack enough military kit into a smaller autonomous sub for it to be effective and be able to deliver sufficient payload (either ballistic or sub-to-sub).

      I think aligning with US rather than the useless French is absolutely the right thing. My concern is only that we don’t end up buying old (and overpriced) technology when there are other, more effective, technologies on the horizon.

    • The whole FAUKUS (I include F for France and it is a more accurate acronym) idea must be based on said Submarines carrying Nuclear armed Tomahawk missiles, even though SMF denies this. Do we trust him ? Otherwise they are meer popguns, and no deterrant.
      This then leads to Australia V China in a Nuclear exchange from which Australia would be destroyed.
      It’s alright for Scotty, he is expecting to be swept heavenward in the Rapture, but what about the rest of us ?

  3. FDA Banned Boosters

    Next prolonged GFC event and recession in the US I think China takes Taiwan. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. We saw how the US and its lapdogs got rolled in Afghanistan. One of the most humiliating defeats in history.

    • I'll have anotherMEMBER

      Pretty sure they kicked the Taliban’s ass until they decided to get up and leave.

      Like Vietnam, the US didn’t use it’s firepower here for fear of hurting civilians, who were also the Taliban.

      If the US is ever let off the leash, well, good luck to whoever is on the other side of that. They’ll be turned into a pile of ash.

  4. The issue with Australian Defence is that it does not allocate any funding in the white paper to R&D in general.
    All it does is expect companies to fund the R&D, in the hope that the Aussie Gov, then buys product from it.
    Why would any Board ever think this way of doing business was ok.
    In the US, the US Gov basically funds much of the r&d required to ensure Lockheed etc can build what is required.
    Hence Australia will never have any autonomous ability in defence.

    • Yes that’s been a chronic problem for this nation since probably the early 80s and I think is tied to the idiot neoliberal ideology both parties have followed since then. This stupid country really drank that cool-aid to a degree that would shock even the most hardened Reagan/Thatcherite.

      Plus our defence force leadership aren’t exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer when it comes to procurement and were always mesmerised by American kit, thinking we should just buy stuff off the shelf without any consideration for a national capability let alone access to things like source-code.

  5. One thought I had about reneging of the subs deal is that for years we’ve heard the large multinationals cry about “sovereign risk” whenever talk about things like domestic gas reservation or superprofits taxes or environmental legislation comes up.

    Well the government has just engaged in behaviour which actually increases sovereign risk and it is done so without even blinking an eyelid. Indeed, it is sledging France for not seeing it coming. Hopefully, they will take the attitude into future discussions about policies that might actually benefit Australians in the short term.

    • This government is so cack-handed when it comes to diplomacy it’s hard to imagine anything worse.

  6. In the early 70s we leased 24 F-4Es from the US while we were waiting for the F-111s to replace our Canberras. I think we’ll end up leasing some Virginia-class to fill the gap and get our crews up to speed on operating an SSN.

  7. If China is the enemy and that is a big if, why do we supply them materials to build their economy (rhetorical question), that defies logic.
    Why are we constantly pointing the finger at China, it is the US that has invaded more countries, have we not forgotten, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Why does out Australian Govnuts, allow the Chinese to buy our land, our farms, our businesses, if they are the enemy.
    Does Macro Fund, have any investments that are directly linked to the markets in China?
    Any why do we call China tyrannical, for those of us living in Victoria, it is really the pot calling the kettle black.

    • Even StevenMEMBER

      You equate Victoria’s lockdown rules with the kind of tyranny China exerts? Wow.

      You DO know that Chinese courts have a 99% conviction rate?

      I was going to seriously answer your questions but instead I suggest doing some preliminary reading ON China first. That aside, I do recognise some of the questions you ask are actually quite good ones.

      • And so does Japan.
        But as you cannot provide anything constructive, then I will leave it be, but will provide you this, Victoria is heading down the same path as China. protesting is illegal in Vic.

        • Even StevenMEMBER

          And so does Russia. The key point I’m making is that Victoria doesn’t have such a conviction rate.

          Victoria makes assembling during a pandemic illegal, not the act of protesting. You are absolutely allowed to protest within your 5km radius. Just make sure your mask is on and preferably wear a jogging suit.

          In China they would a) weld shut your door and if somehow you still got out b) shoot you and if you did not die of your wounds then c) you are looking forward to a 99% conviction rate. Yep, entirely comparable with Victoria.

          • It’s only illegal if you are protesting the lockdown itself. If you are protesting BLM for example, it is all good. In any case, governments all over the world are getting more Authoritarian. The USA is starting to look more and more like China everyday anyway. As with all things, they are far more sophisticated. They have their own version of a social credit score. Don’t believe me? See what happens when you voice a viewpoint that children younger than 18 shouldn’t receive “medicine” to turn them from a boy into a girl or vice versa. Say something that is not racist, but that someone thinks may be. Or simply lose your job for a 10 year old tweet or for a refusal to participate in re-education at work like CRT! Have the “wrong” view and watch yourself be banned or shadow banned from all online communication media. Refuse a vaccine and be banned from going anywhere. We should be looking in our own backyard before we look outward.

          • Even StevenMEMBER

            Nearly all of those things bother me. A lot. I don’t like the way society has been changing.

            It is interesting that what you describe as society becoming Authoritarian, I describe as society becoming too “touchy-feely” (and irrationally so). Where reason and science is being replaced “by the feels”, and “everyone’s opinions being equally valid”.

            I am an economic rationalist. I am guided by evidence and science. I have little sympathy for anti-vaxxers that are either in denial, wrong, or don’t care. I might quibble over the duration of the lockdown or the specific lockdown settings, but I don’t endorse protests in the manner undertaken, when a virus is circulating. Leaving aside whether the protesting is effective (they are not) there are other forms they can take without physically congregating (increasing case numbers) or committing violence against police.

            I feel strongly enough on this that if I could, I would put anti-vaxxers to the bottom of the health system should they succumb to the very virus they were protesting against. Then I would basically have no objection to granting anti-vaxxers complete freedom as they are not displacing a bed for someone more deserving.

            As you can see, I’m not touchy-feely.

            As an example: 86% of those in hospital with covid are unvaccinated. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-20/victoria-new-covid-cases-melbourne-lockdown-to-late-october/100475328

          • Your comments are both nave and without understanding, our consideration, or without knowledge and experience