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Monday, 25 May 2020 12:02

Why does Morrison stand by and let the US interfere in Australia's affairs?

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Why does Morrison stand by and let the US interfere in Australia's affairs? Courtesy YouTube

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is maintaining a studious silence about a threat by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "disconnect Australia" because the state of Victoria has signed up to China's Belt and Road initiative.

In what is clearly interference in Australia's internal affairs, Pompeo, who is known for his bluster, told Sky News that the Chinese project increased Beijing's ability to do "harm". He did not specify what this "harm" was.

Though he confessed that he knew nothing about Victoria's agreement, this did not stop Pompeo from going ballistic.

[The US embasssy in Australia later tried to play down Pompeo's bluster.]

“We will not take any risks to our telecommunications infrastructure, any risk to the national security elements of what we need to do with our Five Eyes partners,” he said.

“I don’t know the nature of those projects precisely. To the extent they have an adverse impact on our ability to protect telecommunications from our private citizens, or security networks for our defence and intelligence communities – we simply disconnect, we will simply separate.

“We are going to preserve trust in networks … we hope our friends and allies, especially our Five Eyes partners like Australia, do the same.”

Morrison, who sports an Australian flag as his lapel pin, appears not to have noticed the fact that man supposed to be the chief diplomat of the US was threatening a state premier, in this case Daniel Andrews of Victoria.

The fact that Andrews has signed up to the Chinese initiative has not found favour with Morrison. But surely that is an internal matter for Australia?

Pompeo was condescending in the extreme in his remarks, even saying, "I suppose Victoria has some rights", something for which all Australians should be immensely grateful.

America's main spy station is in Pine Gap, on sovereign Australian land. Is this the country from which Pompeo wished to "disconnect"?

A new base for US marines is expected to be built in Darwin soon, to add to the 800-odd that the US maintains in countries around the world. Is Pompeo aware of this?

Pompeo may have been buoyed that a day earlier, on Saturday, reports said the UK had changed its stance on deploying equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies for its 5G networks. The US has been campaigning for years now to force other countries not to use Huawei gear.

Washington has also announced steps to try and prevent Huawei from obtaining the semiconductors it needs for manufacturing its 5G base stations and also its smartphones.

But nothing of this excuses Pompeo from behaving like a bull in a china shop. It does not surprise one that, after instances like this, other countries refer to Australia as America's poodle or deputy sheriff in the Pacific. If Morrison does not have the guts to ask ignorant American officials to keep their heads out of the internal affairs of the country he supposedly leads, then he cannot blame those who apply such terminology to Australia.

Morrison has plenty of guts when it comes to name-calling with other countries. But he is like a beached whale when it comes to the US. Shame!


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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