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TICKER VIEWS – Is New Zealand really cosying up to China?

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The diplomatic rift between Australia and China continues to worsen, exacerbated by Scott Morrison’s government tearing up controversial infrastructure agreements.

Canberra is bracing for retaliation from Beijing, after it torpedoed Belt and Road Initiative agreements China signed with the Australian state of Victoria.

Australia hasn’t hesitated to stand up to an increasingly assertive and powerful China. It led calls for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19, much to China’s fury.

Beijing has even shared a 14-point list of grievances that it has against Australia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shake hands before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, April 1, 2019. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool Photo via AP)


TREADING CAREFULLY

New Zealand’s relationship with China has also been under the spotlight, but for completely different reasons.

New Zealand has been accused of turning its back on its “Five Eyes” allies, amid claims Jacinda Ardern’s government is soft on China.

There’s no question that Australia and New Zealand have fundamentally different approaches to handling the increasing assertiveness of China.

But is New Zealand moving closer to China?

Robert Ayson is a Professor of Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He says that while New Zealand doesn’t have a “hardline, zero sum approach to [its] relationship” with Beijing, it “… has taken a strong view on China compared to where it was 7-8 years ago.”

“New Zealand wants to maintain good relations with traditional partners, particularly in the Five Eyes context,” he told Ticker News.

“New Zealand also wants to keep room for a productive relationship with Beijing. New Zealand is unlikely to go down the path that Australia has…”

Australia’s actions have seen it become a victim of China’s economic coercion. New Zealand is seeking to tread carefully, mindful of its economic reliance on China.

FUTURE OF FIVE-EYES

New Zealand has on multiple occasions spoken out against China, including over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

But the island nation has also been conspicuously absent from some joint statements from its Five-Eyes allies, as it is wanting to chart its own course when it comes to its dealings with China.

The 70-year-old intelligence grouping is made up of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and United Kingdom.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister this week revealed that New Zealand was “uncomfortable” with expanding the remit of the alliance.

Nanaia Mahuta believes the focus of the group needs to remain on intelligence, not on pressuring or criticising China.

Robert Ayson says the “comments did catch out a few people”, given they were made “in a public forum”.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marine Payne travelled across the Tasman this week, taking advantage of the new travel bubble, for a face-to-face meeting with her Kiwi counterpart.Marise Payne was asked by a journalist if she would like to see the Ardern government take a tougher line on Beijing.

“One thing I have learnt in my role in this job as Australia’s Foreign Minister is not to give advice to other countries,” she responded.

It’s advice that New Zealand’s Trade Minister would have done well to heed in an interview earlier this year.

Appearing on CNBC, Damien O’Connor urged Australia to follow New Zealand and “show respect” and “a little more diplomacy” to China.

The comments went down like a lead balloon in Canberra, as the Minister was left to mop up a diplomatic mess of his own making.

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POV: Fully vaxxed Melbourne reporter in the centre of chaos | ticker VIEWS

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Sunglasses to protect my eyes from pepper spray, trench coat to hide my microphone, and a helmet to protect my head from flares.

A face mask isn’t the only covering I need as a news reporter in Melbourne, Australia

Isn’t it funny how Melbourne was voted top 10 safest city in the world on Sunday.

Two days later, I’ve never felt more scared to be at work.

On scene

I could feel thousands of eyes glare towards me as I pulled my microphone out, to show our global audience what it feels like to be in the city experiencing the longest lockdown in the world.

To my left, hundreds of the Victoria’s top authorities. Riot police were sent to control the protesters, who first gathered outside the CFMEU—Australia’s main trade union headquarters.

To my right, hundreds of protesters shouting anti-vaccination messages.

And I was standing in the centre—fuelled by adrenalin, waiting for movement from either side.

I was scared of the unknown, standing in the middle of passionate Melburnians who were chanting for their freedom from months of stay at home orders

Thousands of construction workers in metropolitan Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria were stood down after the state government shutdown was announced last night.

Some held a banner reading “freedom”, while others chanted “f*** the jab”.

I feel their anger, I too want to live a life free of government mandated restrictions and emerge from lockdown in Melbourne—a grim reality we’ve lived for too long.

I understand that I’m extremely privileged to be classified as an essential worker. I attend my shifts at the newsroom and can rely on a steady income.

For many, we don’t know what it’s like to be at breaking point. There were protestors in the CBD today who have been out of work for months, struggling to put food on the table and just want their voices heard—because that’s all they have left.

In a shared sense of frustration and anger, some protestors turned violent, with some participants throwing objects, including bottles, at police.

It’s my job to inform people. Rolling coverage on the scene is authenticity

Yet I was shoved and screamed at by angry protestors for standing outside Queen Victoria Market with a microphone.

This is a similar experience for many who work in media.

For giving protestors a voice. For reporting fairly and accurately.

Some argue it’s media who “paint a bad picture” or “write a bad narrative” – but how can you make up the narrative of journalists getting attacked whilst on the job – who are there on scene to hear, report and share their opinions, feelings, and actions.

One identified and unmasked woman approached me so close to the point of touching noses.

“You are FAKE NEWS” she spat into my face. I felt like a targeted villain in a sea of vigilantes

Standing alongside other Australian media outlets, I experienced the first hand hate and disgust towards reporters.

My heart was pounding a million miles a second. I gripped my umbrella tight, in case a protestor launched on me.

I was glad I was wearing a long sleeve jacket, shielding my microphone when off camera to avoid being a target.

A fellow reporter told me to keep sunglasses on my head to use for eye protection from pepper spray and flares.

Many female reporters stayed close to cameramen, as another layer of protection.

We stayed close behind police, who were getting many more profanities sprayed at them. I’m sure they were just as anxious to the unfolding events playing out before our eyes as we were.

Running to keep up with protestors barging through the streets of the City of Melbourne, I witnessed Channel 7 reporter Paul Dowsley get physically attacked.

A protestor approached his camerman and shook him to the ground.

Shortly later, Dowsley had a can of drink thrown at the back of his head while he was presenting live on camera.

“I’ve been grabbed around the neck today, I’ve had urine tipped on me, and now I’ve had a can of energy drink thrown on me,” he said.

Dowsley’s bleeding head was shown on camera. This shakes me. It actually makes me sick to my stomach.

If you can protest against a jab, no matter what industry you’re in, you’re privileged

I’m a fully vaccinated young adult, but it was stressful being amongst unmasked anti-vaxxers parading their hatred towards the Covid-19 vaccination.

Several protesters identified themselves as construction workers and CFMEU members who opposed mandatory vaccinations.

I understand the hesitation towards receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, but it’s an answer to being at work safe and having a ‘normal’ life beyond these life shattering lockdowns.

Just metres down the road from protestors chanting against the effectiveness of COVID vaccines, frontline health workers are treating Covid-19 patients on ventilators in the intensive care unit at the state’s best hospitals.

My dad is frequently in and out of Royal Melbourne Hospital, and visitors are currently banned.

My dad and I receiving a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from Royal Exhibition Centre in August.

He has a rare airways disease as a result of cancer, and I’m vaccinated to protect him.

It’s one thing seeing images of people the government calls “[people of] appalling behaviour on site and on our streets” but being in the centre of them, I see the pain in their eyes.

They’ve simply had enough, and it’s not just tradespeople. People of all professions joined the protest to support construction workers today and these scenes will only continue to make headlines.

Their emotions were raw. Their message was clear.

And as I write my own headlines and tell their stories. I just wish to be safe and respected.

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Does an apology make it acceptable to kill innocent children? | ticker VIEWS

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The United States military apologises for mistakenly killing innocent Afghan civilians, including children, in its recent drone strike

U.S. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of United States Central Command, is calling the drone strike a “tragic mistake” and says innocent civilians were the victims.

The U.S. military thought it had targeted an Islamic State group’s “facilitator” and diminished an imminent terror threat as it withdrew from Afghanistan.

The US military got it devastatingly wrong, killing ten innocent members of a family, including seven children.

“I offer my profound condolences, It was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology.”

FRAnk mckenzie- head of u.s central command
Frank McKenzie, Head of U.S Central Command apologises

Is an apology enough?

The head of the U.S Central Command has issued an apology. Although, questions immediately emerge on how an apology can ever be sufficient for taking the lives of innocent people.

The world of terror changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The members of the extremist group responsible were immediately labelled terrorists. The leaders of the group were hunted down, as they should be.

However, it seems ironic when America “accidentally” takes the lives of innocent civilians, that an apology is supposed to make the chilling miscalculation acceptable.

“America has suffered a black mark on its reputation. This will have affects for a long time to come.”

Bruce wolpe- u.s studies centre
Holly STEARNES ASKS BRUCE WOLPE FROM THE U.S STUDIES CENTRE IF THE U.S WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE

Accountablity for killing innocent civilians

The drone strike killed a longtime aid worker for a U.S group, including two other adults and seven children.

The U.S intelligence was wrong by assuming the aid worker was an imminent terror threat. They decimated the car in front of loved ones and onlookers.

Reports suggest the military is exploring compensation payments for the families of the victims. However, compensation will never bring back their loved ones.

The latest grim miscalculation calls into question the reliability of U.S. intelligence and the safeguards in the controls over the use of lethal drones by the U.S. worldwide.

It casts doubt on the Biden administration’s ability to target threats without a U.S. footprint. There have been no talks if any individuals will be held to account.

This horrible mistake killed innocent people who supported America. Protocols must change to prevent this from ever happening again.

A lasting thought, does this make America terrorists too? According to definition, no.

“Terrorism is defined as trying to change the way of life in a country, and unfortunately the drone attack doesn’t fit that definition.”

oz sultan- counterterrorism analyst

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Pros and cons of nuclear submarines | ticker VIEWS

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The Australian Government has declared a historic Trilateral deal with the United States and the United Kingdom that will see a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines

As part of the new trilateral alliance between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, Australia will have the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines. However, what is a nuclear submarine and how does it differ from its diesel rival?

What is a nuclear submarine?

The most important thing to note about this defence deal is a nuclear-powered submarine is not a nuclear weapon. The key difference between a nuclear submarine and a diesel submarine is the way they’re powered.

Submarines with nuclear propulsion systems have a limitless range, are less detectable, and are faster. Reports suggest nuclear submarines can reach speeds of 55 kmh in comparison to conventional submarines’ speeds of approximately 15 kmh.

A nuclear submarine would give the Australian navy the ability to patrol the Indo-Pacific for a longer time and farther, venturing as far north as Taiwan.

Each nuclear submarine draws power from its own onboard nuclear reactor.

“At the heart of every atom is an atomic nucleus, made of protons and neutrons. The number of protons defines what chemical element that atom belongs to; nuclei with the same number of protons but varying numbers of neutrons are called isotopes of that element.”

“Some very heavy nuclei are highly susceptible to a process known as nuclear fission, whereby they split into two lighter nuclei with a total mass less than the original nucleus. The remainder is converted to energy.”

“The amount of energy released is immense, as we can see from Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc², which tells us the energy is equal to the change in mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light!”

“Reactors in a nuclear-powered submarine are typically fuelled with uranium. Natural uranium mined from the ground consists mainly of an isotope called uranium-238, mixed with small amounts (0.7%) of the key isotope uranium-235.”

AJ Mitchell, Research Fellow, Australian National University

Mitchell explains for the reactor to work, the uranium fuel must be “enriched” to contain the proportion of uranium-235. This is normally about 50% for submarines.

The fuel enrichment determines the chain reaction to ensure a consistent and safe energy output. This is a crucial factor in maintaining a chain reaction that gives a consistent, safe level of energy output.

The output occurs as heat, which the turbines used to generate electricity for the submarine.

PROS & CONS

One huge advantage of nuclear-powered submarines is they don’t require refueling. The vessels will have enough uranium fuel to last more than 30 years.

Australia wants eight nuclear submarines. It is likely to take as many as 18 months to work out details of the agreement before work on the submarines begins in Australia. Building and commissioning such nuclear-powered submarines can take years or even decades.

Nonetheless, this deal will move closer to China’s existing fleet of six Shang-class nuclear submarines, who also own an additional 50 diesel/electric submarines.

The high efficiency of nuclear power enables the submarines to operate at high speed for longer periods than conventional diesel-electric submarines. Nuclear reactions do not require air, meaning they can stay submerged at deep depths for long periods of time.

The downside of nuclear is the eye-watering cost. Estimations suggest each submarine will cost billions of dollars to build and a highly skilled workforce with expertise in nuclear science.

Australia has plenty of uranium in the ground but doesn’t have the capacity to enrich or fabricate the reactor fuel.

Where does the spent fuel go?

What will happen to the spent fuel? There are heavy debates over the waste storage and disposal options for nuclear fuel.

Australia doesn’t have a domestic nuclear industry to support the manufacturing of these vessels, unlike other countries like the US and China.

Australia will have to rely on another nation for nuclear fuel. Devil will be in the detail over the coming years.

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