Australia

Australia’s defence dilemma: projecting force or provoking China?

The shipyard in Osborne, a suburb 20km north of Adelaide in the St Vincent’s Gulf of South Australia, feels far removed from the simmering geopolitical conflict between the US and China.

The freshly built, modern facility has the air of a Hollywood set with enormous sheds connected via narrow roads. Golf cart-like vehicles ferry equipment and people between locations. A small strip of marshland, intended as a bit of greenery for the workers, is the only reminder of what used to be.

Now the Osborne precinct is the symbolic heart of Australia’s burgeoning military industry at a time when the country seeks to claim a seat at the “big table” of global affairs.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. and South Korean naval vessels taking part in joint exercises off the coast of South Korea, September 2022. Third Party / Reuters

For four years, as an increasingly belligerent China breathed down their necks, the United States’ allies in Asia quietly endured a torrent of abuse from President Donald Trump. Under President Joe Biden, they again have a winning hand in Washington. By the time he took office, Biden, a leading optimist about cooperation with China when he was vice president, had transformed into a hardened skeptic. He has promoted key alliance builders to the top Asia posts at the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Pentagon and ensured that his first in-person summit was with Yoshihide Suga, then Japan’s prime minister.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como muchas otras democracias, en años recientes Australia experimentó un aumento de la polarización política, sobre todo durante los últimos nueve años del gobierno conservador liderado por el Partido Liberal, en coalición con el Partido Nacional, una agrupación más pequeña con base rural. Por eso el resultado de la elección federal de mayo puede tener enseñanzas importantes para otras comunidades políticas polarizadas.

Tomemos por ejemplo el resultado en Kooyong, el distrito más seguro que tienen los liberales: se extiende sobre algunas de las áreas más adineradas de Melbourne, y desde su creación en 1901, siempre eligió a un liberal o a un representante de sus predecesores conservadores.…  Seguir leyendo »

Australia sent the democratic world some useful messages in its recent election. The most important: that democracy can stay healthy even when voters are disgruntled, and even when they have problems with the two major parties.

Our friends Down Under could do this partly because they have an electoral system that requires everyone to vote and allows voters to cast ballots in a nuanced way. Preferential voting, in which voters rank their choices, means that voters can say more about how they think than a single marking next to one candidate or party can convey.

And with turnouts approaching 90 percent, the will of the people really is the will of the people.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Australia, for just the fourth time since World War II, the Labor Party, this time under leader Anthony Albanese, has been elected to form government from opposition. The conservative Liberal Party — led by outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison — was routed.

How did it happen? And what are the lessons for politics in Australia and elsewhere?

1. Don’t take your heartland for granted

Morrison not only lost seats to Labor but also lost a swath of seats to a group of female independents who adopted the color teal — a blend of Liberal blue (to signal they were economically conservative) and green (to signal they were progressives on climate change and the status of women.)…  Seguir leyendo »

Australian incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese debate ahead of the 2022 federal election, in Sydney on May 8. (James Brickwood/Pool via Reuters)

I blame the Americans.

Back in 1992, somebody asked then-candidate Bill Clinton if he knew, among other things, the price of “a pound of hamburger”. As it happened, Clinton was able to supply the answer — “a little over a dollar”, he said — but the “gotcha” question became a staple of political journalism around the world.

Witness the current Australian election campaign. In the run-up to the vote on May 21, candidates have become contestants in a daily quiz show, with Australian journalists the anchors.

Even before the election was called, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quizzed over the price of bread and petrol.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jetskis fly the Australian and Aboriginal flags during Australia Day celebrations in Sydney on January 26, 2021.

January 26 is, by coincidence, a significant date in the national calendars of two countries, with an important difference.

In India, January 26 marks Republic Day, and celebrates the date when the constitution of India came into effect in 1950. In short: official independence.

In Australia, January 26 marks the day 11 foreign ships sailed into what is now called Sydney Harbour and established a penal colony on the land of the Eora, the Aboriginal people of the area. This act was without permission, agreement or treaty. It set in motion events the Indigenous peoples of this country -- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples -- are still reeling from today.…  Seguir leyendo »

Podríamos decir, como Cicerón, O tempora! O mores! al contemplar cómo un suceso al otro lado del mundo genera una marea de reacciones que arrasa la aldea global. Unos y otros enarbolan sus respectivas banderas, se arrojan como pedradas enfervorecidos tuits, likes, favs, shares y comments. Los odios sobrevuelan las cabezas, las audiencias imponen sus reglas y, entremedias, queda la amarga impresión de que el impostado espectáculo nos hace perder por el camino algo importante: los conceptos.

El problema que se le ha planteado a Novak Djokovic no se refiere en sentido estricto a la vacunación obligatoria. Es cierto que algunos estados de Australia la han impuesto para ciertos trabajadores, particularmente los que se emplean en sectores sensibles por su contacto con el público.…  Seguir leyendo »

Solemos ser muy reacios a dejarnos distraer, a la hora de abordar estos hebdomadarios billetes, por la gayumba mediática que convierte anécdotas en fenómenos morbosos que arman la mundial. Nos referimos, en este caso, al sainete Djokovic, que es un tenista de leyenda, pero, para este plumilla, nada más (y nada menos). Sin embargo, una vez acabada la ópera bufa que ha montado en tierra de wallabies, creemos detectar una reflexión de cierta enjundia, para inquietos ciudadanos españoles.

Veamos los hechos relevantes en su desnudez. Un señor no australiano ni residente en Australia quiere pasar unos días en Melbourne, invitado a participar en un torneo de tenis, porque es jugador profesional… Democráticamente tiene los mismos derechos fundamentales y las mismas obligaciones que un zapatero de Andorra invitado por unos familiares a pasar el cotillón.…  Seguir leyendo »

Novak Djokovic descansa en una práctica del Abierto de Australia en Melbourne, el 14 de enero de 2022. El tenista serbio ha tenido problemas por negarse a ponerse la vacuna contra el COVID-19. Tendrá que enfrentar la misma situación en el torneo Roland Garros en Francia. (Diego Fedele/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Novak Djokovic, el tenista masculino número uno del mundo, ha ganado 20 torneos de Grand Slam, un récord que comparte junto a sus legendarios colegas Roger Federer y Rafael Nadal. Este mes tuvo la oportunidad perfecta para distanciarse de sus rivales: pudo haber ganado su Grand Slam número 21 en el Abierto de Australia, donde ya ha sido campeón nueve veces. Pero eso ya no sucederá. Djokovic ha sido deportado de Australia, y, por mucho que reclame y patalee, él es el único culpable de esa situación.

A diferencia de 97% de sus compañeros en el circuito de tenis masculino, Djokovic se niega a vacunarse porque está hipnotizado por disparatadas ideas new age sobre la salud.…  Seguir leyendo »

Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s tennis player in the world, has won 20 Grand Slam tournaments — a record he shares with his fellow greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He had a perfect opportunity to separate himself from his rivals this month by winning a record 21st Slam at the Australian Open, where he has already been the champion nine times. But now that won’t happen. Djokovic has been deported from Australia — and, however much he might wail and rage, he has no one but himself to blame.

Unlike 97 percent of his peers on the men’s tennis tour, Djokovic refuses to be vaccinated because he is in thrall to wacky New Age ideas about health.…  Seguir leyendo »

Novak Djokovic Got the Boot. Australians Are Thrilled

Update: A panel of judges ruled on Sunday that Australia’s immigration minister was within his rights to cancel the tennis champion Novak Djokovic’s visa. The judges’ ruling is final; the Australian Open begins Monday.

Novak Djokovic has had his visa to stay in Australia revoked — not once but twice. After a successful appeal of his apprehension at the border by authorities, our immigration minister has affirmed the initial refusal. The world’s No. 1 men’s singles tennis player is out of the Australian Open (at least for now).

It’s a move that the local papers have claimed will “undoubtedly prove popular with the Australian public.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Police personnel watch pro-refugee protesters rally outside the Park Hotel, where Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic is believed to be held while he stays, in Melbourne, Australia on Jan. 10. (Sandra Sanders/Reuters)

Tennis star Novak Djokovic’s detention by Australian border authorities has cast a much-needed spotlight on the Australian immigration system. Djokovic was held in the Park hotel in Melbourne, alongside 32 refugees who had sought asylum in Australia and have been indefinitely detained ever since — some for up to nine years.

If you are only just hearing this story, you may be shocked. But the arbitrary and ongoing detention of people, including children, indefinitely is tolerated and normalized in Australia.

This part of the story begins in July 2013, when the Labor Party announced that anyone who came to Australia by boat seeking asylum would be sent offshore to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea or Nauru, a tiny island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.…  Seguir leyendo »

This was not part of Novak Djokovic's plan. The tennis star who posed with a big grin Tuesday, planes on the tarmac behind him, announcing that he'd been granted a medical exemption to play at the Australian Open and was about to fly Down Under, was instead about to embark on a saga of epic proportions.

Had things gone according to Djokovic's plans, he would have arrived in Australia Wednesday night and be out on Rod Laver Arena in the Melbourne summer sun by Friday at the latest, working out the kinks from the flight and preparing for the Australian Open.…  Seguir leyendo »

F-35A survolant la Corée du Sud. 2014. — © Keystone

L’Asie-Pacifique se militarise à une vitesse foudroyante depuis plusieurs années, et la tendance s’accélère. Le Japon transforme actuellement deux porte-hélicoptères en porte-avions pouvant transporter des F-35B américains, et son nouveau premier ministre envisage de doubler le budget de la défense; la Corée du Sud prévoit de déployer son propre porte-avions en 2033 et a testé son premier missile mer-sol balistique stratégique, lancé d’un sous-marin, en septembre dernier; l’Australie a décidé mi-décembre de renouveler sa flotte d’hélicoptères et, quelques jours plus tard, signe un contrat d’armement de plus de 700 millions de dollars avec… la Corée du Sud.

Sans surprise, la Chine et la Corée du Nord sont pointées du doigt comme sources principales de cette militarisation régionale: Pékin continue de moderniser ses forces armées, entretient des conflits territoriaux avec une dizaine de pays, dont le Japon et la Corée du Sud, et étend son influence dans le Pacifique Ouest, aux portes de l’Australie; Pyongyang persiste dans le développement d’armes nucléaires et de missiles balistiques, menaçant Séoul et Tokyo.…  Seguir leyendo »

This weekend, Novak Djokovic should have been warming up for yet another grand slam.

But instead the world No 1 tennis champion – and noted vaccine sceptic – is cooling his heels in an Australian quarantine hotel, while an international row rages over whether he should be kicked out of the country altogether. Djokovic had boasted on social media of securing an exemption, for medical reasons he has not explained, to the rules that all players in the Australian Open must be double-jabbed. But hours later he was stopped at the airport, his visa cancelled, and he was unceremoniously threatened with deportation.…  Seguir leyendo »

No, Australia Is Not Actually an Evil Dictatorship

Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida who has made a name for himself as an extreme opponent of vaccine mandates, announced at the end of last month that Australia was “not a free country.” This was surprising news — most of all to Australians.

We have mostly spent pandemic lockdowns alternating between boredom, frustration, wine, a lot of Netflix and trying to locate our trousers before Zoom meetings. Recently, we’ve also become aware of a disturbing myth that appears to be enthusiastically fostered on the American right: Our experience of the pandemic, apparently, has been that of a violent police state.…  Seguir leyendo »

An orphaned joey that was rescued during the bushfires in Wytaliba, New South Wales in 2019. Photograph: Jorge Silva/Reuters

In November 2019 I wrote about the bushfires and burnoffs and calling for better political leadership. A few weeks ago we lit the first hazard reduction burn around our house since those fires. It brought up a few memories and feelings.

It’s two years now since the first fires came. They had been near Armidale and Tenterfield for a couple of weeks; then they were much closer. A hot day, a big wind and an ember from kilometres away landed high on the Leather Jacket Ridge that runs through the middle of Wytaliba, our 3,500-acre community. Over the next week, with calmer and cooler conditions that fire burned slowly downhill to our settlement areas.…  Seguir leyendo »

French President Emmanuel Macron and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stand on the deck of HMAS Waller, a Collins-class submarine operated by the Royal Australian Navy, in Sydney in 2018. (Brendan Esposito/AFP)

The new AUKUS security partnership led to an immediate diplomatic fallout between France and the United States. But beyond the concerns about NATO and the Western alliance, or questions about great-power competition in the Pacific, some analysts see another worry: Will sharing nuclear submarine propulsion technology with Australia set back the nuclear nonproliferation regime?

What does this deal mean for nonproliferation? Have such transfers of nuclear submarine technology occurred in the past? Here are four things to know.

1. What does the deal involve?

The first major AUKUS initiative will help Australia acquire a conventionally armed submarine fleet that’s powered by nuclear reactors.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Queensland-New South Wales border sign in Australia on Sept. 2. (Jono Searle/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

“State against state, mate against mate” is the slogan of State of Origin, an annual rugby league tournament held between the states of Queensland and New South Wales. As the slogan suggests, the matches are fiercely contested, but the banter between the states’ political leaders is traditionally light-hearted.

After all, we’re all Australians.

Well, that was up to the arrival of covid-19. The past 18 months have reinvigorated the tribalism of Australian politics. Even the “footy” league series quickly became mired in unpleasantness, as the two state premiers argued over pandemic border restrictions.

As covid-19 continues to rise in Australia, so has parochialism.…  Seguir leyendo »