The video above is a National Press Club of Australia address with the former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating (1991-96), providing a thorough rebuke of the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America) military alliance. After the alliance announced a plan to provide and build nuclear-powered submarines for Australia earlier in the week.
The address which was carried live on multiple established television media channels throughout Australia, produced by and principally distributed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), was unusual for multiple reasons. On the surface the "address" was, in fact, an interview, compared to the traditional speech, with the interviewer and guest not physically present at the Press Club in Canberra, they were at the ABC studios in Ultimo, Sydney, with Press Club members watching and participating from their usual club location in Canberra. But these are minor details compared to the elephant in the room, or via fibre video link, that being the former Prime Minister's long-standing critiques of the quote-on-quote "China will invade Australia" idea. This made this media event one of the few mainstream media events that platformed a narrative heretical to the major established media narrative in Australia, that China is quote-on-quote "evil".
Below is a summary of Paul Keating's appearance at the Press Club by his principal interviewer and club President Laura Tingle, on her regular daily spot on the ABC's 7:30.
Please Note: The ABC places tight controls on videos on 3rd party websites, so you may need to visit their YouTube channel, using the link above.
In my opinion, Paul Keating's appearance at the Press Club was nothing short of stunning, and one of the best hours of Australian television and public policy debate that I have seen in years. This Press Club appearance is required viewing for anyone interested in Australian politics or geopolitics.
The Press Club appearance started with the interview between club President Laura Tingle and Paul Keating, where he was provided with the significant opportunity to explain a statement on his opinions that he released earlier in the day. This was when he outlined his thorough arguments regarding China and the defensive military strategy of Australia. Following the interview, it was time to take questions from club members, who are some of the most prominent political journalists in Australia. Who then lined up at the podium as if they were lambs for the slaughter, with one of the exchanges between Mr Keating and Sky News Australia (News Corp owned and not the UK variant owned by Comcast) Journalist Olivia Caisley possibly being the most prominent exchange.
Ms Caisley's question was, "unlike present players, you haven't received a military briefing on this issue since the mid-90s. Could you be out of touch on this issue and given you didn't foresee the military buildup from China, as well as intimidation of neighbouring countries when you were in office? What makes you, so sure, China isn't a military threat to Australia?"
Mr Keating's response was "Because I've got a brain, principally, and I can think, and I can read, you know, and I read every day. You know. I mean, why would China want a threat, what would be the point, they get the iron ore, the coal, the wheat? What would be the point of China wanting to occupy Sydney, and Melbourne, militarily? And could they ever do it? I mean, could they ever bring the numbers here? It would be an armada of troopships to do it. You know, so you don't need a briefing from A dopey security agency we have in Canberra to tell you that. You know, I mean. I know you're trying to ask a question, but the question is so dumb it's hardly worth an answer."
Former Prime Minister Keating is no stranger to a sharp answer to a question, as displayed by the video playlist below.
As expected, following his Press Club appearance, the predictable critiques flooded in from both the commentariat and the current crop of elected representatives. Regarding the latter, those who sided with the Liberal-National Parties Coalition laid out a straightforward disagreement, with the Labor Party side still disagreeing but attempting to do it softly. The reason for the soft approach from the people siding with the Labor Party is because of Mr Keating's history with the party, which is often described in a positive light.
You can find a summary of the predictable critiques in the video below.
But in my opinion, the best critiques of the Press Club appearance come from the Eureka Collective and Dr Jayanth Tharappel.
Keating is, of course, spot on. However any geopolitical arrangement has an geoecomomic basis. It was the direction the Hawke/Keating governments set us down, selling off our Commonwealth Bank in particular, which laid the groundwork for our current disastrous trajectory. #auspol https://t.co/I5lv4QboJ6— The Eureka Collective 🦘☀️ (@Eureka_Coll) March 15, 2023
Sorry, this has to be said:— Dr. Jay (@JayChacko) March 15, 2023
> Be former PM Paul Keating
> Act "on behalf of the United States"
> Sell off the Commonwealth Bank
> Implement neoliberal economics
> Wonder how 🇦🇺 lost its sovereignty pic.twitter.com/llsjMu7msj
Dr Jayanth Tharappel, a day later appearing on a live stream with Simeon Boikov, cited a quote from Mr Keating at his Press Club appearance. "You know, politically in the Labor Party, I fought the left most of my life. You know, always mostly on behalf of the United States."
So maybe we can deduce from that statement, that Mr Keating, and his worry of Australia effectively being fully subsumed into the United States of America, is him speaking from experience.
By Rhys Jarrett, 17th of March 2023.
Check out this episode of RawCut Analysis featuring Rhys Jarrett.