The announcement that Australia is joining the nuclear club the West’s clearest message to China: Don’t provoke a confrontation.
The announcement that the US and UK are allowing Australia access to nuclear technology is a monumental shift in the regional security of the Asia Pacific.
Australia may share a lot with the US, and even share the Union Jack on its flag, but for the last fifty years it’s been kept out of the nuclear club.
But China’s recent actions have changed all that.
China thought it could bully Australia into submission by slamming steep tariffs on Australia’s wine and barley exports. Even though its heavy reliance on Australian iron ore made the whole thing look silly.
But it’s actions have led to an unintended consequence – the US and the UK took notice. And instead of allowing Australia to learn a hard lesson, Boris Johnson and Joe Biden decided to back Australia, and give access to nuclear technology.
The announcement is already making big news in US military circles.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the submarines deal was a “bold step” for Australia given the country’s economic dependence on China.
“The Chinese will view this as provocative, and they should,”james Clapper said on CNN.
Australia will now be forced to spend heavily on its defence force, above the current 2% of GDP. The shadow of Donald Trump lingers long over this announcement.
After all, he spent a great deal of his presidency trying to ween middle powers off the teat of the American defence forces.
Like much of Trump’s presidency, the diagnosis was right, but the medicine was wrong.
It’s taken Joe Biden to make this deal happen, no doubt backed by US hawks.
We now know what Scott Morrison, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson were discussing in their secret meetings at the G7 in June.
Since then, this deal has been negotiated very quickly.
But the devil will be in the detail, and so far, not much has been announced.
Here are the key questions:
- Australia doesn’t currently have a nuclear industry. Building one quickly will require the assistance of the US and UK. So what happens to the current French submarines that Australia has been spending millions on to turn from a nuclear Barracuda to a diesel Barracuda design.
2. Until now, Australians have been historically against the idea of nuclear, for safety and environmental reasons. Those concerns won’t just disappear, and the democratic process will play a key role.
3. Where will the subs be stationed when in dry dock? And what will be the community reaction? Will they be on Aboriginal land? Will they be near population centres? Will South Australia still want to be the home of our subs fleet?
4. While the US President stressed that Australia will have nuclear submarines, they won’t carry nuclear weapons. They will instead be nuclear subs with conventional weapons. This won’t be Trident.
5. It’s a long way off, but worth keeping in mind. What happens to our nuclear submarines once they reach end of life? As the British have found, they’re extremely difficult to get rid of. You don’t exactly chuck them up on eBay.
6. China has a great rate of submarine operations already., and the capacity to build more quickly. Australia is far behind, and as any military commander knows, the weapons you have at the start of a war, are the weapons you have throughout the war. Particularly if the new Aussie subs require parts from overseas, which they most certainly will.
7. Then there’s the unknown. The cost, the work and the fact that submarine construction is incredibly difficult. Think space design. The idea this will happen quickly is preposterous. It would be much easier for Australia to buy them off the shelf.
They are all questions being asked in military circles. And so far, no answers.
Aussie comedian on viral climate billboard crusade | ticker VIEWS
Australian comedian is on a climate crusade to hold world leader’s accountable, one billboard at a time
Dan Ilic is no stranger to the publics attention. He is a renowned presenter, comedian, and filmmaker, and podcast guru. Ilic is passionate about tackling climate change and using his voice and platform to hold Governments to account.
In October, Ilic managed to book the biggest electronic billboard in Times Square, New York City. The aim of the campaign was to humiliate the Australian Government and its climate change perspectives.
Ilic raised money from over 2000 people to fund the billboard campaign in one of the busiest places in the world. At the cost of $16,000 for ten minutes on screen, the sign wasn’t cheap, but it was effective.
The vocal billboards captured the attention of the world and did not hold back on their messaging. This campaign followed weeks of debate over Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison attending the COP26 Glasgow climate meeting.
Morrison held off on confirming his attendance at the critical meet until the last moment, announcing on October 15 that he would be going. Ilic suggests it may have been the billboards that convinced the Prime Minister to book his flight to Glasgow.
COP26 Climate Summit
World leaders are preparing to convene in Glasgow at the historical COP26 climate summit. Australia has been divided on what targets it will be taking to the meeting. Its Nationals Party continued to hold off on an agreement but has agreed to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Do we give them a lollipop or take them to Disneyland, I don’t think you should get any awards for doing the bare minimum.”
Dan Ilic- Comedian, Presenter, Podcast Host
COP26 has been deemed one of the most critical climate meets of all time. The world will be watching on as world leaders make their ambitions and targets to cut their emissions.
All of the science says we’re experiencing climate change and if the world doesn’t act now it will be too late.
“The real issue is, what’s going to be our 2030 target?”
Scott Hamilton, energy expert & Ticker Climate co-host
After incredible attention and success with the Times Square billboard campaign, Ilic has his eyes set on other key areas to gain traction. There will be a billboard at the front of Barnaby Joyce’s office of a burning Kangaroo and one near the seat of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
“It’ll say something like… Hey, it’s time to buy a standing desk because you’re about to lose your seat.”
Dan Ilic- Comedian, Presenter, Podcast Host
Biden channels his inner Gough | ticker VIEWS
As Joe Biden prepares to face his most momentous week as president, with his entire legislative agenda on the line in Congress over the next few days, Biden is channeling his inner Gough Whitlam, who famously said:
“You’ve got to crash through or you have got to crash.”
Whitlam was more charismatic, more tumultuous in bearing and outlook, more larger than life than Biden.
But not more of a dreamer of what a good government should stand for. The pillars of Whitlam’s policy agenda – health care, education, labour rights, human rights, anti-racism, gender equity, fairer taxes – are the same as what Biden is championing in his “Care Economy” program.
The president has been clear: he demands action now
He wants to take his climate policies to Glasgow to show the world that the United States is a leader in moving the planet to net zero by 2050 – and a lot more progress before 2030.
And he wants to tell the American people that more help on the issues they care about every day – good jobs at good wages, education for their children and removing the wolf of poverty from their doors, expanded access to affordable health care, rebuilding roads and digital highways – is about to arrive.
Republicans are unalterably opposed and are resisting the Biden program with full political force.
The Democratic margin in the House is three votes. There is no margin in the Senate; all 50 Democrats, plus the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, are essential. This is why Biden said in his CNN Town Hall last week that, in the 100-member Senate:
“Every one is a president. Every single one. So you gotta work something out.”
That’s what Biden is doing. He is in the late stages of reaching an agreement with his Democrats in both chambers. He has had to jettison free community college, reduce paid parental leave, abandon lower prescription drug prices through Medicare and higher tax rates for corporations.
Still, if this scaled-back legislation is passed, Biden will have this year delivered $5 trillion in economic stimulus and investment in American households.
In scale and scope, what Biden has on the table in Congress is as significant as Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.
This is why this week is Biden’s crash through or crash moment
If he succeeds, it will be momentous in its own right, and will give Democrats momentum as they face the midterm elections for the control of Congress next year.
If he succeeds, it will give Biden political capital to prosecute the racial equity agenda in a Senate choked by its rules for legislative debate.
But if Biden fails, if the Democrats do not unify and vote this legislation through the House and Senate, Biden’s presidency will come to a screeching halt. There will be no more progressive legislation of real consequence.
Unlike Gough, Biden cannot be removed as president by a Governor General, but there will be nothing to save his presidency from paralysis for the balance of this term.
The world’s most locked down city is free but is re-entry anxiety hitting Melbourne? | ticker VIEWS
Melbourne was once the world’s most liveable city. It appears that Covid-19 agrees, as the city recently ended its sixth lockdown
Victorians have been isolated for 262 days. It’s a grim statistic. In fact, it makes Melbourne the world’s most locked down city.
Unsurprisingly, Victoria is also the state with Australia’s highest number of Covid-19 infections (over 73,100), and deaths (1,005).
During lockdown, people began smiling through their face masks as they greeted passers-by on their daily walks. Cupboards were cleaned, old clothes were thrown out, and alcohol consumption was rife.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews put it bluntly, “these are shitty choices”.
But on Friday, restaurants popped open their first bottles of champagne in months; and people left their homes outside of curfew hours. These are the things that weren’t allowed just days ago, under the state’s strict stay-at-home orders.
But for some, the mental health toll of being locked down for such a long time is hitting home.
Ticker’s own Dr Kieran Kennedy says re-entry anxiety are “feelings of uncertainty, fear and anxiety around pandemic restrictions lowering”.
Psychiatrists believe re-entry anxiety is characterised by a major period of change.
What can help?
There are a range of techniques that are clinically proven to reduce anxiety during periods of change.
- acknowledge it
- take it slow
- put a simple routine or structure in place
- plan steps to get back outside
- look after yourself
- talk to people
- recognise the symptoms.
As Melbourne, and the world opens back up, there’s one word that comes to mind for me: balance.
The shadow pandemic
Australia has recently made the shift from a Covid-zero and lockdown mentality, to living with the virus.
Other countries have already adopted this approach, like the United Kingdom, where case numbers are spiking, and smaller nations like Singapore.
“We need to update our mindsets. We should respect Covid-19, but we must not be paralysed by fear.”SINGAPORE’s PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG
Some places are still working towards Covid-zero, including China, which was once the epicentre of the virus.
But as countries begin to emerge from the height of the pandemic, the mental health impacts are also coming to light.
LifeLine—a mental health support service—reported its busiest days in its 57-year history. Calls have reportedly increased by 40 per cent in recent months.
“Just two years ago we were averaging under 2,500 calls a day,” the company’s chair, John Brigden said.
You can almost feel these impacts in Melbourne. From businesses with a ‘for lease’ sticker splashed across their front windows, or for me, the reluctance of jumping straight into a weekend of socialising.
“Today we are regularly seeing more than 3,500—a 40 per cent increase.”Lifeline chair John Brogden.
Our health experts are telling us that it isn’t the end either.
Professor Adrian Esterman is a former epidemiologist with the World Health Organisation. He says there are a “host of potential viruses” that may cause the next pandemic in our lifetime.
It’s important to acknowledge this, because we are not immune to disasters or change. The world is a complex place.
Importantly, there’s no race to get back to anything. Yes, restrictions have eased but for some, the time to adjust may take a little longer.
I’m not trying to suppress anyone’s feeling of excitement, rather, just shine a light on the perils of re-entry.
Back to reality
As cities bounce back from an incredibly devastating and dark period, I’m having different conversations with my peers.
We’re talking more about our mental health—the harsh toll of being isolated from the things that we love.
But moving back into a ‘normal’ routine—with social and community commitments—isn’t easy.
In fact, research shows that sudden changes can lead to tiredness, stress and irritability—the term known as re-entry anxiety.
Above all, it can lead to unease. We’ve all changed our priorities and daily activities for well over a year, it’s bound to affect our recovery.
For me, I wonder what the world will look like in a month, and years to come.
I’m not in any hurry to rush back to ‘normal’ because our entire sense of normality has changed.
I think it’s been nice to strip life back, and appreciate the smaller things—a walk on the beach; dinner at the table; or connecting with an old relative.
However, I appreciate that the world moves fast, and people are keen to suppress these recent memories.
As people make reservations; gather outdoors, and see their friends; it’s time to enjoy these freedoms—at our own pace.
But remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you are struggling—short, or long-term.
If you, or someone you know needs help, please contact your local helpline.
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