The PM’s recent address to the US Congress said a lot about Australia’s expectations for its relationship with China.
HERE’S one for surfers of the worldwide web.
Firstly, Google ‘Melbourne University archives’.
Click on ‘Search Collections’, then on ‘Search the Collection Database’.
In ‘search our collection’, key in ‘Socialist Forum’, which brings up an information icon.
Click the Adobe icon, below the word ‘Image’ and another ‘Socialist Forum’ icon with yet another Adobe icon appears. Click on it.
Now read the 21-line description of the Socialist Forum’s Collection, from which I quote some lines.
“The Socialist Forum was established in 1984, initially by disaffected members of the Communist Party of Australia,” it says.
“Its membership included Australian Labor Party members and political activists and trade unionists seeking an alternative to the factional constraints of the CPA and the ALP.
“Socialist Forum’s stated aim was to contribute to the development of democratic socialism in Australia by facilitating discussion and analysis of ideas and experiences; providing education both for members and non-members; and developing links between political activists and organisations of political activists.”
In Box 1, Serial Number 1/5 hold papers described as: ‘Tax material (tax policy) 1985’.
I wonder what they proposed on taxing the mining industry?
Under 1/6 you can access: ‘What is Socialist Forum? (leaflet written by SF organiser Julia Gillard)’.
And under 1/7 is: ‘Broad Left Conference, Sydney, 28-31 March 1986’.
Now, I met a very knowledgeable South Australian Laborite while at a recent conference in Melbourne.
Since Ms Gillard hails from Adelaide, briefly attending Adelaide University, I asked my contact why they thought Ms Gillard left for Melbourne before completing her degree.
“Because Adelaide, unlike Melbourne, doesn’t have enough safe federal Labor seats; simple as that,” he answered.
Soon after, the Welsh-born, just-out-of-high-school Adelaide native immersed herself in leftist campus politics, even convening the Socialist Forum whose foundation membership had: “Disaffected members of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) ...’ and “included Australian Labor Party members and political activists and trade unionists seeking an alternative to the factional constraints of the CPA and the ALP.”
That’s her path into parliament and eventually the deputy prime ministership.
But ahead of her was Kevin ’07 Rudd, who was acting like a know-all party lord and master; so Labor’s right secretly set about dumping their increasingly intolerant off-the-rails leader to slot Ms Gillard, conditionally, into his job.
But her inclinations remain those of a Socialist Forum convenor, as her wasteful spending as education minister, and backing for the exorbitant mining and carbon dioxide taxes so clearly show.
The crucial factor therefore is that she was lifted from deputy PM to the top job by Labor’s still powerful – but ever-weakening (just wait for Saturday’s NSW state elections) – right faction.
So here we have a leader of directionless Communists and leftist Laborites during the party’s truly reformist Bob Hawke period, which she steered clear of, now fully indebted to Labor’s right.
As long as this indebtedness prevails things will be as kosher as they can ever be for Labor, which is feeling the Greens’ white-hot blowtorch from the left and as ever more voters realise global heating is a hoax used to justify ever more taxes.
The Gillard-Wayne Swan government will thus continue as a left-right alliance that hinges around Ms Gillard, who remains attached to outdated leftist yearnings, but indebted to Labor’s right.
That’s why she regularly says the difference between her and ousted Kevin ’07 is her commitment to always ‘negotiate’.
Rudd’s modus operandi differed since he believed only he – sometimes with help from his ‘kitchen cabinet’ that included Ms Gillard – had all the answers that Labor’s Muppet backbenchers should blindly follow.
How could a hardline leftist like Ms Gillard have delivered a Robert Menzies/John Howard-style pro-America and pro-ANZUS Treaty Congressional address in Washington earlier this month?
She’s only the third Australian PM to speak to a joint Congressional sitting, after Bob Hawke and John Howard. Robert Menzies addressed two joint ‘receptions’.
Here’s how one of Australia’s most astute China affairs experts, John Lee, foreign policy research fellow at the Sydney-based Centre for Independent Studies and a Washington-based Hudson Institute visiting fellow, explained her career backflip in the American conservative publication, The Weekly Standard.
The article, headlined ‘Why Australia’s Socialist Prime Minister now loves America’, says: “As the secretary of the extreme left-wing group Socialist Forum during her student days in the mid 1980s, Australian PM Julia Gillard put her name to pamphlets advocating the end of the ANZUS alliance with the United States and the scrapping of the US-Australian Pine Gap military facility in Australia’s Northern Territory.
“If she was asked then how her life would pan out in 25 years, the last thing she probably would have imagined was delivering a speech to Congress reaffirming that Australia is the firmest of all American allies, and that if she had her way, the six decade old ANZUS alliance would survive for many decades more.
“The fact that she delivered just that speech yesterday is testament to the truism that even the most passionate left-wing Australian politician moves to the right when given the reins of power.”
That rightward shift must, of course, be qualified by stating that it’s so because she knows her PM’s job depends on Labor’s right faction.
“But it is also an indication that Australia has abandoned any realistic hope of trying to manage China’s rise by shaping its ambitions,” Lee continues.
Put otherwise, elements within Labor have rightly concluded China has no intention of ever scrapping its harsh authoritarian ways.
Dr Lee hits the quick on this.
Thanks to starry-eyed Mr Rudd and his weak and obedient foreign minister, Stephen Smith, Australia set about in 2007 pandering to China, hoping it evolved into a larger version of Japan and South Korea, which it hasn’t, never intended to, and shows no sign of doing.
“When Gillard’s predecessor, Kevin Rudd, became prime minister in December 2007, one of his first foreign policy acts was to withdraw unilaterally from the Quadrilateral Initiative involving the United States, Japan, India and Australia – a grouping Beijing referred to as an ‘Asian NATO’ against China,” Lee continues.
“Then foreign minister Smith announced Australia’s intention to withdraw from the grouping while standing alongside his Chinese counterpart Wang Jiechi at a press conference.
“Rudd’s first overseas trip to Asia as leader included Beijing, but excluded Tokyo – Australia’s most powerful Asian ally.
“His idea was to help coax and ease China as a cooperative power into the regional order.
“But Gillard’s pronouncement that the ANZUS alliance is becoming more important in this Asian century rather than less is all about China’s re-emergence.
“Her declaring that Australians were ‘clear-eyed’ about their differences with China – and pointedly contrasting the latter’s authoritarian rise with the emergence of democratic India and Indonesia – is telling.
“Hedging against authoritarian China by strengthening the US-led hub-and-spokes security system in the region is now Australia’s preferred – and possibly only – option.”
So true. However, State Scene would forever prefer a “clear-eyed” lefty who’s indebted to Labor’s right as PM before a serial uncivil “starry-eyed” careerist convinced he held all the answers, even on national security, in his crack-pot jack-pot dilly-bag of publicity seeking ideas.