Paul Keating's appearance at the National Press Club after a 26-year absence demonstrates one thing, at least: that each new prime minister of Australia is worse than the previous one.
Keating is streets ahead of Morrison. Keating correctly points out that Australia cannot go to war with China over Taiwan. It certainly cannot go into battle with the Chinese navy using American attack class nuclear submarines designed in Virginia in the 1990s. Keating should know: as PM, he had his own disaster with the Collins class submarines. The Collins submarines hardly ever left the docks and did not have sufficient trained personnel to put the entire fleet to sea at the same time.
U.S. coercion of China
Despite Keating's attempt to dispel the confusion over China, the Australian media chose to attack him. The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and even the ABC's Q&A program hosted by Stan Grant. This is not helpful when there are ministers like Peter Dutton in government saying things like "it would be inconceivable that Australia as an U.S. alliance partner, would not join in military action".
This is what Keating had to say about the United States' attempt at coercion of China:
And Keating is right to criticise the Government's hypocrisy over Kashmir. Australian governments would rather sell coal and tertiary education to India than criticise that Government's appalling human rights record in the independent state of Kashmir. On that score, India is nearly as bad as Israel's occupation of Palestine.
But you never heard Keating criticise Israel, nor did he criticise Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. Keating was the Minister for Northern development in the Whitlam Government when it allowed Indonesia to invade East Timor in late 1975. That was Fraser's first mistake: to turn a blind eye to the killing of Timorese by the Indonesian military.
Ignoring Indonesia military abuses of human rights in East Timor, Keating also put together a treaty with Indonesia's President, Suharto, in 1995.
Keating was right to say that the U.S. cannot control three oceans. This is especially when the Chinese economy is bigger and is growing at a faster rate the United States'.
This what Keating had to say at the National Press Club:
China is a big sea trading nation, so it wants its goods to be transported unfettered through the South China sea. The U.S. Navy is trying to challenge that; given the importance of trade with China for many countries including Australia, the U.S. government should reconsider this challenge to Chinese sovereignty.
However, Keating didn't criticise U.S. imperialism nor did he criticise Henry Kissinger when he gave the Indonesian Government permission to invade East Timor.
Keating even quoted Kissinger on China:
But he left out that the U.S. Government had threatened war with China over the Taiwan Straits as long ago is 1958. The truth is United States has left its run too late. Keating is right: there will be no war over Taiwan. And if there were, Australia should keep well clear of it.
The China Syndrome meets Dr Strangelove
Glenn Gibson asked if Paul Keating can help with diplomatic relations with China? Keating, when in power, followed a strategy of building up the Australian bourgeoisie, in order, in his terms "to break with the branch office mentality" inside Australia and so as to strengthen it as a regional power.
In the National Press Club, Keating opposed the purchase of the nuclear subs and the AUKUS alliance. He prefers to build nationalist pride rather than dependence on the U.S. and Britain. Predictably, Keating wants to build submarines in Australia. Failing that he came up with the crazy idea of buying "off the shelf" nuclear subs from France.
Keating questioned buying U.S. nuclear subs:
On the ABC's Q&A program, Stan Grant suggested that China would be very concerned about the threat of the Australian Navy having eight nuclear submarines, despite the fact that the are not yet built, may never be built, and their delivery date is not until 2040.
By contrast, China built its first nuclear-powered submarine in 1974. With the world's largest armed forces, China has increasingly worked to advance its naval capabilities. Beijing has at least 59 operational submarines, 12 are nuclear-powered and half of those are ballistic missle submarines (SSBNs). They make "mutually assured destruction" possible after a first strike.
Much of the public debate on commercial and public media is based on a premise of inflated importance of Australia both in the world and in respect of China.
Keating never gives up on Australian-U.S. alliance, even though China is a major trading partner for Australia.
Meanwhile, experts from the Independent Australia Peace Network (IPAN) have called for an independent and peaceful Australia.
Kellie Tranter, chair of the inquiry, said:
Paul Keating, at the National Press Club, was in agreement with sentiments expressed by Ms Tranter.
Ian Curr is the great-great-grandson of Australian settler and politician Edward Curr. You can listen to Ian's podcast 4PR Voice of the People, read his blog Workers BushTelegraph and follow Ian on Twitter @WorkersBushTele.