Could Australian Premier Daniel Andrews’ China deal bring down his government? It should.
In 1975 Australian Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was accused of attempting to unconstitutionally borrow billions of dollars via a Pakistani broker to fund energy and resource projects. This highly unusual move bypassed Australian Treasury Department standard procedures and was widely condemned.
By the end of 1975, this issue along with other crises saw the Whitlam Government dismissed and replaced.
Forty-five years later we see another Labor politician, this time the Premier of the state of Victoria, potentially borrowing over $24 billion from China to, ironically, fund a post-COVID-19 stimulus package. But on May 20th when asked at a Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing how much of these borrowings would come from the government’s arrangements with the Chinese, the Victorian Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan refused to clarify.
Minister Allan was again pressed further: “Will you rule out using the Belt and Road agreements with your government and the Chinese government to help finish these projects?” This time the minister asked for the question to be ruled out of order on the basis that it was “not relevant” to the inquiry terms of reference.
The question was ruled out of order.
The state of Victoria is pursuing and signing international deals that have national implications but are accepting neither the oversight nor accountability that should (in a democracy) apply to these actions.
In November 2019 I wrote a piece titled “Hidden Costs: Victoria’s Belt & Road Deal Undermines Australia” where I examined how China is bypassing national governments to sign up state and regional governments to its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). Here we see the state government of Victoria, with no national accountability, ignoring the advice of the Australian Government and essentially committing the nation to an international treaty no one wants.
COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. After preventing residents in Hubei Provence from traveling within China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) strangely did not prevent their citizens from traveling overseas. It was, therefore, no surprise that countries with close trading ties to China, especially BRI signatories like Italy, suffered significant infection rates and deaths.
After Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, China revealed its true colors, calling Australia a “giant kangaroo that acts as the dog of the US”, along with other petty name-calling. To follow up on their bullying, China then placed a 40 percent tariff on Australia’s barley exports, blocked beef imports from four abattoirs, imposed new customs requirements on Australia’s iron ore and also told Chinese power stations to turn their backs on Australian coal.
Much is also known about China’s relentless cyber-attacks on Australian institutions, companies, universities, and governments; including the office of the Premier of Western Australia.
China stands accused of numerous human rights violations against its own people, not least of which includes imprisoning over one million ethnic Uighurs in concentration camps.
And yet, Premier Andrews of the state of Victoria, without moral objection or care for the broader implications to all Australians, single-handedly pulls Australia into China’s orbit of control.
The Australian Labor Party has form when it comes to pursuing close relations with the Chinese Communist Party. The aforementioned Gough Whitlam, as early as 1954, endorsed recognition of the People’s Republic of China, becoming the first member of parliament to do so. And in 1971, as opposition leader, Whitlam traveled to China, meeting with Zhou Enlai in the Great Hall of the People, even before Henry Kissinger did that same year.
In the House of Representatives Prime Minister McMahon accused Whitlam of being a “total advocate for the policy of a foreign power – the greatest Communist power in Asia.”