Wren's Week: The Chinese Navy, AFP raids and interest rate cuts

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A Chinese warship sails into Sydney (Screenshot via YouTube - edited)

John Wren takes a look at the visit to Sydney by the Chinese Navy, the AFP raids against journalists and RBA interest rate cuts.

Wren’s Week


THE CHICKENS are coming home to roost.

We have discussed the fiscal booby traps the Liberal Government set for the Labor Government, who were convinced would win the election, but now we are seeing some of the others. How they are dealing with them is worth noting.

Morrison was in the Solomon Islands with Melissa Price’s open chequebook trying to convince them that they should politically and strategically align themselves with Australia rather than China who is subtly (and not so subtly) exerting its presence in the South Pacific. The Chinese have built a deep water docking facility there that can handle an aircraft carrier if needed. While Morrison was there, a small Chinese battlegroup sailed into Sydney harbour and docked at Garden Island naval base. Perhaps Morrison was telling the Solomons that there was no need for the Chinese docking facilities when Australia can host the People’s Navy in the heart of Sydney.

The giveaway in this is the timing. The Government would have known about the visit for many months but have kept it very quiet. The fleet was meant to arrive in Sydney in the first week of the new Labor Government to embarrass it. It would have made the perfect propaganda weapon for the new Liberal Party opposition.

Can we pause for a moment to imagine the Murdoch media’s headlines if Bill Shorten was PM:

‘Bill’s Chinese pals come to say hi!’

‘So much for no Chinese communist links to the Labor Party!’

And variants thereof.

Instead, Morrison has had to play down the visit as “routine” and “nothing to see here”. The mainstream media has, of course, allowed it through to the keeper as usual.

On the other side of the continent, a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers was allowed through the cordon by Peter Dutton. Now, this boat would have left Sri Lanka well before the Election. The Government would have known it was on its way. It has been suggested that it was kept in abeyance ready to arrive after the Election so that, again, the new Liberal opposition could claim that the boats had restarted under Labor just like they said they would.

It was even suggested that the asylum seekers on board had been secreted on Christmas Island for some time. The asylum seekers have since been promptly refouled to Sri Lanka with Peter Dutton there this week, supposedly negotiating their safe return.

Again, can we all just consider Murdoch’s headlines if the boat had arrived in the first week of the new Labor Government? It would have been on every front page: ‘Labor soft on borders!’ ‘The boats have restarted!’ and so on. For the record, the boats have never stopped coming despite the claim that the Government has stopped the boats. They have been turned around at sea, some have sunk before they reached our borders and others have been intercepted and the passengers refouled. The only thing that has stopped was the reporting on them.

While we talk of reporting, Dutton’s stormtroopers, the Australian Federal Police, executed search warrants on the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Ultimo head office. The two are supposedly not linked, but in both cases the AFP seem to be on fishing expeditions trying to identify who has leaked sensitive Government information to the press. Both cases go back well over a year. There is also a strong likelihood of more raids on other journalists.

The ABC raid is particularly disconcerting in that the warrant allows not just the sourcing of documents but their outright removal and alteration if needed. In other words, they AFP seems to have the legal right to actually delete and amend documents to suit their own whims. It would also allow them to place malware in these systems that would track any future interactions.

But again, timing is everything. These raids are a direct attack on the media, our free press and, as such, are an attack on our democracy. I have stated many times that the Liberal Party does not function effectively in a transparent, open democracy. They are fascist in intent and over the last six years we have seen them gradually chip away at the personal freedoms of Australians while surreptitiously drawing a veil over their activities. Dutton’s on-water matters is a classic example, but there are many others.

It is notable that both Dutton and Morrison were out of the country when these raids went ahead. Clearly, the AFP had been instructed to not raid during the election campaign and to ensure both leaders were out of the country at the time so that they could cynically claim plausible deniability. It was pointed out that Al Capone also ensured he was out of Chicago when he orchestrated the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. The Liberal Party gangsters think the same way.

Dutton has claimed he was not informed in advance of the raids and Morrison has said similar, stating cryptically that he supports those who enforce our laws. He, of course, makes those laws, no matter how unjust, immoral or unethical. He also provides the wherewithal and civil authority to the AFP to enforce those laws. So, claiming now he is somehow innocent is a bit rich. It must be noted that every horror that the Nazis committed was entirely legal under German law, too. Ultimately, the Nuremberg defence will not save Morrison or Dutton either.

The Government’s attack on the free press has largely gone unreported over the last five years as the Murdoch media has been unashamedly pro-Liberal Party throughout their incumbency. Social and independent media, including this publication, have pointed out Australia’s descent into fascism many times.

Mainstream media has largely abetted it. It has not challenged the Government’s lies or rhetoric. Often, it has just repeated it verbatim. The reaction of these publications to the raids has been swift. They have all uniformly condemned it and defended their journalists at the heart of it.

There is a stench of hypocrisy to it all, though. Through their own lack of objectivity and bias, the media has allowed the Government to implement an ever-tightening scrutiny on dissenters without challenge or exposure. It’s a classic boiling frog scenario, that they didn’t see coming until the black vans turned up outside. Now, it’s too late. History should tell us that we can’t appease fascists. They have to be stood up to and stared down. As the Sandinistas cried, ¡No pasarán!.

And finally, the Liberal party’s claim of superior fiscal management, as they repeated throughout the Election, has been brutally exposed. The RBA has cut interest rates to emergency levels and there are more cuts to come. We are in our third quarter of per capita recession. The economy is in freefall and after six years in government, trying to blame the Labor Party has worn thin, although Frydenberg did try it.

The Government, with its attendant media sycophants, has wrought the impending recession on Australia. They knew it was coming but expected the Labor Party to win and be the ones to deal with it. Now they will have to and they don’t have a clue what to do. It’s going to be ugly and many Australians will suffer because of the abject failure of Liberal Party discredited trickle-down economic theory.

Perhaps this election was a good one for Labor to lose after all.

You can sign the petition to have John Wren reinstated on Twitter here.

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