Falling Short-en Foreign Affairs
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Falling Short-en Foreign Affairs

Falling Short-en Foreign Affairs

Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten addressed a group of ship builders in a union rally in Adelaide. He claimed it is a threat to our national security if the Coalition makes a deal with Japan to build submarines for our navy.

It was reported in The Australian that when a member of the audience cried out “Last time we had Jap subs, they were in bloody Sydney Harbour,” Shorten responded “this is a government with a short memory…In the Second World War, 366 merchant ships were sunk off Australia.”

Not only was his speech racist, ignorant and backward-looking, his comments could weaken our economic and diplomatic relations with Japan. Shorten fails to recognise the importance of Japan in the Asia- Pacific. In April this year, the Coalition strengthened ties with Japan by signing the mutually beneficial Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA). Shorten’s actions appear to have the intention of undoing the government’s hard work. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Tony Abbott have spent this past year raising Australia’s profile on the international stage. All the Opposition Leader has to offer is an hysterical, anachronistic whinge.

Japan’s submarines are not only technologically superior they are relatively less expensive to produce. Australia can buy 10 Japanese vessels for $20billion, whereas if submarines were built in Australia, it could cost the government up to $80 billion for the same number. With a budget deficit after six disastrous years of Labor, it’s understandable why buying Japanese submarines is an attractive option.

If Bill Shorten cares about our national security, he should build relationships with other countries rather than destroy them. His comments could anger the Japanese and if he ever becomes Prime Minister, tensions will not dissolve easily. By treating Japan as the enemy they were in World War II, rather than the ally they are now, Shorten places our relations in jeopardy. He rightly identifies that Australia is an island. Well if he carries on like this, our isolation will be far more than merely geographical. Australia will be isolated from the rest of the world, with no strong relations in the region and no strong submarines.

It is also important to remember that this submarine deal with Japan has yet to be finalised. However, what should be finalised is Bill Shorten’s political career. It is clear that he says whatever he needs to please a few, and does not think about its impact on the bigger picture. How can he look after our nation’s domestic and international interests when he labels one of our closest allies as a threat? His appeal to the worst Australian anxieties towards our Asian neighbours is an incredibly cynical ploy. It is clear that Shorten is incapable of leading this country, and does not have its interests at heart.

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