Australia gets defensive with new alliance


At last. Some real backbone and leadership in our defence posture.

Woke morning teas and fingernail painting as expressions of solidarity with some group or another is thankfully a thing of the past in defence.

Our excellent special forces have had their status returned.

And to make up a trifecta of announcements showcasing that defence is purely focused on defending our nation and not on politically correct agendas, we have the nuclear submarines announcement. One cannot help but think Minister Peter Dutton has helped drive this desperately needed reform.

Some of us who’ve watched this space for years have been urging the need for Australia to fully immerse itself in the 21st century when it comes to defence capability. Nuclear submarines have been around for about 65 years and are the pinnacle of submarine capabilities, so we’re long overdue in acquiring them.  

With our long coastlines, non-nuclear subs compromised our security.  Diesel-electric sub operations last up to 70 days, with half of that time spent getting to and from their patrol area.

In comparison, a nuclear submarine never needs refuelling in its operational life, which is approximately 30 years.

Defence – the capacity to protect the integrity of one’s borders from attack – is the most fundamental task of the government of any nation-state wishing to claim sovereignty over its territory. It’s the first test to determine nation-state status.

Having been singled out by the Chinese Communist Dictatorship for our principled stand over human rights and transparency over the origins of covid-19 with belligerent rhetoric and economic sanctions directed at Australia, it was reassuring to see the warm embrace of us by our close allies in the United States and the United Kingdom.

This cooperative approach will benefit all members of the newly formed AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and the United States). It is an important deepening of the relationship, which has already been exceptionally close for the past seven decades.

The United States spends more on technology than the next 12 countries combined. To be invited into this stable of sharp leading-edge technology is a compliment defying description. It also bears testament to the closeness of the relationship and the deep trust within which we are held.

The sharing of nuclear submarine technology by the United States has only been done once before – 63 years ago with the United Kingdom. It is a great vote of confidence; other countries have been denied requests by the US to share their technology with them. Our status as a valued, trusted ally and a genuine partner is beyond doubt.

As our former Ambassador to the United States, the Hon Joe Hockey, said, the AUKUS agreement was “a real and tangible statement about the growing depth in the relationship between Australia, the US and UK that would reverberate around the world…”

We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that the Indo Pacific situation is not deteriorating. None of us want to hear that. But it’s regrettably true and we need to accept that truth and respond decisively, which we are now doing under Minister Dutton’s Defence leadership.

The new AUKUS arrangement is part of an ongoing strengthening of relationships and cooperation in our region with countries from India to Japan – countries which share our basic values of democracy and human rights.

What is particularly pleasing is the commitment of the United Kingdom. The UK has willingly and proactively placed itself with our interests here “down under”, indicative of its perceptions and concerns to maintain stability in our region.

And before some (the usual suspects) get too exercised, the submarines will be nuclear powered, not nuclear armed. Nevertheless, by exporting $750 million worth of uranium each year, it might be worth reconsidering our ban on nuclear energy which would provide baseload energy that is reliable, affordable and will easily meet our CO2 targets. It is a fact far too often ignored that no major economy intends to reach net-zero by 2050 without nuclear power in the mix.  If only the billions already spent on subsidising mainland wind farms and solar panels had been invested in modern nuclear energy capacity, we would all be better off and would have avoided the mass manufacturing exodus of recent times. But we digress.

The Prime Minister’s announcement of AUKUS should be celebrated by all Australians concerned about not only our national security but that of all the freedom-loving peoples of the world. The best security is always self-sufficiency. To achieve that, you always have to be ahead of the curve. And it doesn’t hurt to have strong, reliable, committed and principled friends on board in that endeavour. AUKUS provides such friends.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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