Walking Away From AUKUS and Towards Beijing: Australian Labor Party’s Foreign Policy

Commentary This week, the usually cautious Australian Labor Party (ALP) shadow minister for foreign affairs, Senator Penny Wong, gave a speech at the Australian National University (ANU), where she unveiled a telling glimpse into Labor’s China strategy if they are elected in the coming federal election. “Australia’s leaders should take the world as it is,” Senator Wong pronounced. The speech was focused on Labor’s foreign policy regarding China, Taiwan, and AUKUS. And by “world,” she is clearly referring to “China.” If we take the world the way it is, we will see the continued trajectory of Beijing’s aggression and dominance over its peaceful neighbours, the region, and Australia. The regime has already built and militarised seven artificial islands in international waters, despite guaranteeing they would not. Beijing has built and surpassed the U.S. Navy to become the world’s largest maritime force with over 355 ships and submarines. It threatens democratic Taiwan on a daily basis and has also waged a $20 billion trade warfare on Australia. That’s not to mention the cyber-attacks Australian business, industry, and critical infrastructure experience at the hands of Chinese cyber criminals every day. And then there’s Beijing’s (mis)treatment of their ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans, as well as disappearing any person who dares speak out, like tennis player Peng  Shuai. But Wong dismisses Beijing’s aggression and atrocities when she said: “We need to look beyond the news of the day.” In other words, take China as it is and leave well enough alone. This is weak, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will see it as such and exploit our weakness to its benefit. A Chinese paramilitary policeman gestures to photographers at the entrance to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, China, on Sept. 17, 2012. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/GettyImages) Wong also said Labor would pursue an engagement strategy with the CCP and seek to solve the relationship problems that Beijing foisted on Australia. Her suggestion is the hardly novel approach of partnering with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A Labor government would “appoint an ASEAN Special Envoy,” she said. Somehow this will magically solve Australia’s and the region’s problems. But ASEAN is hardly a success. It has inadequate leadership and chronic institutional weakness. A 2020 paper from the Council on Foreign Relations describes ASEAN’s impact as being “limited by a lack of strategic vision, diverging priorities among member states, and weak leadership.” A prime example is there has been no unified approach to Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea despite the impact on ASEAN’s own members! But this is where Wong places Australia’s foreign policy hopes—and our future. Contrast Labor’s China-engagement and ASEAN-envoy approach with that of the Morrison Government and decide which places Australia at more risk, or continues our safety and sovereignty? On the one hand, you have a prudent Morrison Government forging alliances with our two tried and tested allies, the United States and the United Kingdom—both of whom have demonstrated their loyalty with blood and treasure to keep us safe—and on the other, you have Labor who will break away from our allies and place faith in a failed regional group, while bowing to a brutal regime. Wong said, “we need genuine partnerships, grounded in trust.” Yes, that’s why the Morrison Government forged the Australia, United Kingdom, United States (AUKUS) alliance for that very reason. So which of our Asian allies came to our rescue in our hour(s) of need in the 1940s? So, why are Labor stepping away from this important alliance? It seems because the Australian Labor Party are ditching our old and reliable allies just as we, the region, and the world are facing the most aggressive and capable authoritarian regime the world has ever seen. China’s Premier Li Keqiang (R) shakes hands with Australia’s Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong (L), as Australia’s then-opposition leader Bill Shorten looks on, at Government House in Canberra, Australia, on March 23, 2017. (Lukas Coch/AFP via Getty Images) Labor says Australia is an Asian nation, and we need to fall into line with the inevitable Asian hegemon. In their mind, it is better to submit to the CCP now rather than later. But Australia is not Asian. We are an island continent. We are Oceania. We are democratic. And most importantly, we are not servile. What does the leader of the Australian Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, say about all of this? No one knows. He’s been pursuing a pre-election small target strategy where he releases no policy, says as little as possible, and criticizes as much as possible. But his shadow foreign minister has said all we need to know. Albanese should be reminded the first and most important task of a prime minister is to keep Australians safe, to keep us sovereign, and therefore not beholden to an aggressive communist regime. It is cl

Walking Away From AUKUS and Towards Beijing: Australian Labor Party’s Foreign Policy

Commentary

This week, the usually cautious Australian Labor Party (ALP) shadow minister for foreign affairs, Senator Penny Wong, gave a speech at the Australian National University (ANU), where she unveiled a telling glimpse into Labor’s China strategy if they are elected in the coming federal election.

“Australia’s leaders should take the world as it is,” Senator Wong pronounced.

The speech was focused on Labor’s foreign policy regarding China, Taiwan, and AUKUS. And by “world,” she is clearly referring to “China.”

If we take the world the way it is, we will see the continued trajectory of Beijing’s aggression and dominance over its peaceful neighbours, the region, and Australia. The regime has already built and militarised seven artificial islands in international waters, despite guaranteeing they would not.

Beijing has built and surpassed the U.S. Navy to become the world’s largest maritime force with over 355 ships and submarines.

It threatens democratic Taiwan on a daily basis and has also waged a $20 billion trade warfare on Australia. That’s not to mention the cyber-attacks Australian business, industry, and critical infrastructure experience at the hands of Chinese cyber criminals every day.

And then there’s Beijing’s (mis)treatment of their ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans, as well as disappearing any person who dares speak out, like tennis player Peng  Shuai.

But Wong dismisses Beijing’s aggression and atrocities when she said: “We need to look beyond the news of the day.”

In other words, take China as it is and leave well enough alone.

This is weak, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will see it as such and exploit our weakness to its benefit.

Epoch Times Photo
A Chinese paramilitary policeman gestures to photographers at the entrance to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, China, on Sept. 17, 2012. (Goh Chai Hin/AFP/GettyImages)

Wong also said Labor would pursue an engagement strategy with the CCP and seek to solve the relationship problems that Beijing foisted on Australia.

Her suggestion is the hardly novel approach of partnering with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A Labor government would “appoint an ASEAN Special Envoy,” she said. Somehow this will magically solve Australia’s and the region’s problems.

But ASEAN is hardly a success. It has inadequate leadership and chronic institutional weakness.

A 2020 paper from the Council on Foreign Relations describes ASEAN’s impact as being “limited by a lack of strategic vision, diverging priorities among member states, and weak leadership.”

A prime example is there has been no unified approach to Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea despite the impact on ASEAN’s own members!

But this is where Wong places Australia’s foreign policy hopes—and our future.

Contrast Labor’s China-engagement and ASEAN-envoy approach with that of the Morrison Government and decide which places Australia at more risk, or continues our safety and sovereignty?

On the one hand, you have a prudent Morrison Government forging alliances with our two tried and tested allies, the United States and the United Kingdom—both of whom have demonstrated their loyalty with blood and treasure to keep us safe—and on the other, you have Labor who will break away from our allies and place faith in a failed regional group, while bowing to a brutal regime.

Wong said, “we need genuine partnerships, grounded in trust.” Yes, that’s why the Morrison Government forged the Australia, United Kingdom, United States (AUKUS) alliance for that very reason. So which of our Asian allies came to our rescue in our hour(s) of need in the 1940s?

So, why are Labor stepping away from this important alliance?

It seems because the Australian Labor Party are ditching our old and reliable allies just as we, the region, and the world are facing the most aggressive and capable authoritarian regime the world has ever seen.

Penny Wong and China
China’s Premier Li Keqiang (R) shakes hands with Australia’s Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong (L), as Australia’s then-opposition leader Bill Shorten looks on, at Government House in Canberra, Australia, on March 23, 2017. (Lukas Coch/AFP via Getty Images)

Labor says Australia is an Asian nation, and we need to fall into line with the inevitable Asian hegemon. In their mind, it is better to submit to the CCP now rather than later.

But Australia is not Asian. We are an island continent. We are Oceania. We are democratic. And most importantly, we are not servile.

What does the leader of the Australian Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, say about all of this? No one knows.

He’s been pursuing a pre-election small target strategy where he releases no policy, says as little as possible, and criticizes as much as possible. But his shadow foreign minister has said all we need to know.

Albanese should be reminded the first and most important task of a prime minister is to keep Australians safe, to keep us sovereign, and therefore not beholden to an aggressive communist regime.

It is clear the Australian Labor Party will walk away from the AUKUS alliance and Australia’s traditional allies. Instead, they favour an engagement policy with the CCP and place our foreign policy, sovereignty, and future in a regional body that is ineffective.

The 2022 federal election will be the most crucial election for a generation. The Australian public needs to be aware of the risks a vote for Labor will bring upon us, our democracy, and freedom.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Lincoln Parker has over 20 years experience in government, defence research and technology development. Based in Sydney, he chairs the Defence and National Security Policy Branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. Parker has worked for the Australian government, and at its consulates in San Francisco and New York. He later established the Victorian government's office in Washington D.C. with a focus on defence tech collaboration. He contributes regularly to domestic and international publications, and has appeared on Sky News Australia