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The surprising reaction to Aus subs deal

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It might seem obvious to let Australia into the nuclear club, but it’s the reaction to the Australian submarine deal that will be surprising.

In the 1970s, the Australian protest movement found its feet. Vietnam, women’s rights and the environment got thousands of people out of their homes, and marching in Australian cities.

By the 1980s, it was nuclear disarmament that drew in the biggest crowds.

More than 250,000 Australians demonstrated for nuclear disarmament yesterday in marches that were bigger than the Vietnam moratorium protests of 1971. About 85,000 people converged on the centre of Melbourne from five points around the city and at the biggest demonstration, in Sydney, more than 100,000 people marched.

the age newspaper, 1984

With the benefit of hindsight, many environmentalists now admit Australia should have gone nuclear in the 1970s. The Lucas Heights nuclear reactor was meant to pave the way. But the vocal minority convinced the majority and scared the politicians. It’s the trouble with democracy.

And besides, at the time, no one was worried about dirty coal fired power stations.

One wonders how the past 10 years of Australian politics would have played out if Australia had settled the coal-to-nuclear question thirty years ago. Kevin Rudd might still be PM!

But here we are. It wasn’t an environmental summit that changed Australia’s stance on nuclear, it was the Chinese.

China’s rise in the region is too big for the Australian government to ignore. Australia has been financially punished by China for daring to stand up against it. China believed that Australia would buckle, and it would send a message to other middle powers in the region: it’s China’s way or no way.

But the announcement that Australia is joining the nuclear club with new nuclear submarines will send shockwaves.

Both to the anti nuclear protestors in Australia, if there any of them left, and to the Chinese embassy.

Make no mistake, this is a big deal, even if the deal is for nuclear powered subs, not nuclear weapons. But like everything in politics these days, what’s announced today is usually the precursor to the big news being announced tomorrow.

Australia has already signed a deal to buy and build its own billion dollar guided missiles.

Defence analysts have been worried about Australia’s capabilities for some time. Despite the arrival of the long overdue F35s, Australia has been historically reliant on the superpower of the day for its defence.

Australia’s Collins class submarines.

Until the fall of Singapore during the Second World War, Australia looked to the UK. In fact, despite Australia’s federation, the UK still controlled Australia’s foreign policy.

No more relying on the US

When the UK fell over as an empire, the United States came to Australia’s aid, helping to fend off the Japanese, and creating the ANZUS treaty, which has so far seen Australia join pointless wars like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq merely to curry favour with the Americans.

But something has changed over recent months. When the Australian and British Prime Ministers met with the US President at the G7 summit in June, China’s ears were burning.

So too were the French. Australia bizarrely chose the French to build its new submarines, to replace the ageing and troubled Collins class subs.

Five years ago, Australia was more interested in Aussie jobs than defence capability. China has changed that.

What happens now to Australia’s contract with the French will be telling. Last week the Australian government announced that the French military will have access to Australian bases, so read into that what you will.

The problem is the Americans don’t trust the French, ever since American secrets ended up in the hands of the Soviets during the Cold War.

The current Australian submarine build saw the subs made by the French, but the combat systems built by the Americans. Go figure.

Australia is spending $1bn on guided missiles.

Why the UK?

The other surprising aspect of all this is the UK’s involvement. Why does Australia require permission from the UK to gain access to the nuclear club? And why doesn’t Australia just buy them off the shelf from the Americans?

Today’s announcement is monumental for many reasons. But none more than this. Today is the day Australian governments grew a backbone, and did what needs to be done.

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Aussie comedian on viral climate billboard crusade | ticker VIEWS

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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.

Global attention

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

Billboard bonanza

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

 

 

 

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Biden channels his inner Gough | ticker VIEWS

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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. 

Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC was the 21st prime minister of Australia

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

BRUCE WOLPE ON BIDEN’S PLEDGE TO UNIFY USA

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:

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the May jobs report after U.S. employers boosted hiring amid the easing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, U.S., June 4, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“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

BRUCE WOLPE ON WHY BIDEN IS AT A CROSS ROADS RIGHT NOW

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.

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The world’s most locked down city is free but is re-entry anxiety hitting Melbourne? | ticker VIEWS

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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”.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews

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.

Picnics are back, as people around the world celebrate ‘freedom day’.

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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