Landmark submarine deal trashed by former prime minister Paul Keating
Paul Keating has blasted Australia’s decision to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines from America and the United Kingdom.
The respected former prime minister fears the once-in-a-generation arms deal will make Australia beholden to the United States.
Mr Keating – who was prime minister from 1991 to 1996 – warned Australia risked becoming too reliant on the US.
He also questioned the US military’s prospects against China.
“The announced agreement will amount to a lock-in of Australian military equipment and thereby forces, with those of the United States with only one underlying objective: the ability to act collectively in any military engagement by the United States against China,” he said.
“The arrangement would witness a further dramatic loss of Australian sovereignty, as material dependency on the United States robbed Australia of any freedom or choice in any engagement Australia may deem appropriate.”
“If the United States military with all its might could not beat a bunch of Taliban rebels with AK47 rifles in pick-up trucks, what chance would it have in a full-blown war against China, not only the biggest state in the world but the commander and occupant of the largest land mass in Asia?”
The pact has been seen as a direct reaction to China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Asked about the former prime minister’s criticism of the deal, Mr Morrison told reporters he did not share Mr Keating’s views.
“The former Labor Prime Minister is entitled to his views and be respected for those views but those are not views my government shares. My government shares the view that is grounded in the decision of Curtin and Menzies which has always understood that our relationship with the United States is a forever relationship,” he said.
Just weeks ago, Mr Keating chastised the government for leading Australia into a “Cold War” with China.
“Australia is a continent sharing a border with no other state. It has no territorial disputes with China. Indeed, China is 12 flying hours away from the Australian coast,” he said.
“Yet the government, both through its foreign policy incompetence and fawning compulsion to please America, effectively has us in a cold war with China.”
China’s embassy in Washington rebuked the deal, with spokesman Liu Pengyu describing the plan as a return to Cold War mentality.
“(The three countries) should not build exclusionary blocs targeting or harming the interests of third parties. In particular, they should shake off their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice,” he said.
Originally published as Landmark submarine deal trashed by former prime minister Paul Keating
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