The implications of the Chinese-funded mega development proposed for Swansea need to be considered in full.
In 2014, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop connected the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the event that sparked World War 1, with the rising tensions between China and Japan (and therefore Australia) in the South China sea.
Bishop warned that a single random act could trigger a major conflict. In a column for The Age, I wrote, “We Australians seem to have no more choice in the matter than we had 100 years ago”.
In the wake of Australian swimmer Mack Horton’s altercation with Chinese swimmer Sun Yang at the 2016 Olympics, I wrote another Age column quoting the response of China’s state-owned tabloid newspaper, the Global Times: “In many serious essays written by Westerners, Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilisation…no one should be surprised at uncivilised acts emanating from that country.”
This followed a Global Times piece two weeks earlier, after Australia endorsed the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s finding against China in the South China Sea dispute: “Australia has inked a free trade agreement with China, its biggest trading partner, which makes its move of disturbing the South China Sea waters surprising to many.
“Australia lauds Chinese-Australian relations when China’s economic support is needed, but when it needs to please Washington, it demonstrates a willingness to do anything in a show of allegiance…..If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.
“Australia is not even a ‘paper tiger’, it’s only a ‘paper cat’ at best….But this paper cat won’t last.”
I agree with the Global Times that Australia has no place in the South China Sea conflict. We are being dragged towards yet another Gallipoli. I also believe our political leaders have created a desperate contradiction by entering a free trade agreement with an ambitious global superpower while allying us militarily with their old foe, Japan. I wrote in 2016: “Neither the free trade agreement with China nor the involvement in the South China Sea dispute were policies taken by either major party to the Australian people...”
Some things happen politically without ever being taken to the electorate. Like, for example, the way Tasmanians never voted to have a quarter of Tasmanian agricultural lands foreign-owned, a practice totally prohibited in some countries.
The contradiction of our position seems obvious to everyone but us. In 2014, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton reportedly criticised Australia for “two-timing” the US, its military ally, by increasing its trade with China. One can only imagine the view Donald Trump, now entering a trade war with China, will take.
It is against this turbulent backdrop that I see the Chinese-funded Cambria mega development on the East Coast. I am a Dolphin Sands landowner. When I dealt with the Glamorgan/Spring Bay council, they were so rigid they ruled on what shade of grey cladding I could use on my shack.
Cambria went from being wholly unknown to receiving its first council approval in four working days. The developer was given a flying start. What is there in our current political arrangements to stop more mega developments of this sort being visited upon Tasmania? Not a lot, I’d say. This is a national issue.