Home opinion-and-analysis Beer Files Sanctions are good – tell that to Australian farmers

Sanctions are good – tell that to Australian farmers

Australia has two major export sectors and technology is not one of them. Aside from mining, food accounts for about $30 billion of this country’s national exports. Now, thanks to our good friends in Washington and our insipidly compliant lapdog Government we’ve just lost a reliable $500 million customer and moved a step closer to a senseless war.

Following on from my previous article about MH17, the downed Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, after showing remarkable restraint in the face of a series of increasingly humiliating and totally unjust sanctions, Russia has finally responded with sanctions of its own. The difference is that Russia’s sanctions actually mean something. They hit us where it hurts – in the bread basket.

Just to reiterate what has happened, the US and its lapdog allies, including the EU and Australia, after blaming Russia, without any credible evidence, for just about everything that has happened in the current Ukraine civil war, decided to impose economic sanctions on one of the world’s leading energy providers and military powers. Russia in turn has told the sanctioning countries where to get off and placed a minimum one-year embargo on all food imports from those countries starting 7 August.

In the coming year, Australian food producers would have been on track to sell a potential $500 million of produce to Russia. Particularly hard hit will be the dairy industry, which will now be forced to wipe about $100 million off its previously projected $575 million of exports. Russia was one of the Australian dairy industry’s shining star growth markets and this will be a big and needless hit.

While mining and resources have received all the glory in recent years for Australia’s recent and unprecedented lengthy economic boom, our food export business has been a relatively quiet achiever in contributing to this country’s continuing prosperity. Australian produce is second to none in its quality and purity. There are no GMO vegetables and fruit grown in Australia. Our dairy products are pure and radiation free, unlike those in Europe. Our grains are also largely GMO free and our meat produce is also generally high quality.

For Russia, Australia was a great supplier and for Australia, Russia was a great customer. Now that has come to an end because our spineless Government, like the equally spineless governments of the EU members, not only believe that the US has the right to exercise power as judge, jury and executioner in global affairs that do not concern it, but also that we must blindly follow our lord and master in its folly.

Is Australia truly a sovereign nation any longer? The truth is that when it comes to foreign policy, it is clear that we are not. To witness our parliamentary leaders of political persuasions publicly blame the MH17 fiasco on Russia within hours of the event, without any proof, in perfect lockstep with their US masters is evidence enough that when Washington barks a command, Canberra comes to heel immediately. We can stomach this when it doesn’t directly affect our national interests. However, even a faithful dog that can’t swim won’t risk drowning when ordered to jump in a swimming pool.

Whatever Australia may think of the situation on the other side of the world in Ukraine – and there are many Australians who do not agree with US prognostications on this issue – it is none of our business. Ukraine is on Russia’s borders not ours. Russia has every reason to be concerned with having a bordering neighbour with an openly hostile government determined to cleanse its country of ethnic Russians and Russian language speakers. We have no reason to be concerned with anything in that region – except for perhaps for the human rights of Eastern Ukrainians being bombarded each day a la Gaza. Like Switzerland, our stance would be much more helpful to all parties in the region if we declared ourselves to be neutral.

Unlike Switzerland, however, Australia seemingly has no choice but to join the Anglo-American alliance regardless of where our best interests may lie. This has been the story of our history for more than 120 years. The last Australian Government that tried to declare our national sovereignty was ousted in a US-led bloodless coup in 1975.

So Australia has allowed itself to be dragged by the US into a global trade war with Russia, a country that was a significant and growing, but relatively minor trading partner. One may ponder then what should Australia do if the US decides to impose economic sanctions on China because of its growing territorial disputes with Japan? Would it be in our interests to side with the US and also impose sanctions on China? Our Government has already done this to some degree with its treatment of telecoms giant Huawei.

Sanctions are tantamount to trade wars and trade wars inevitably lead to real wars. The only conclusion one can draw from current events, not just in Ukraine, but also the Middle East, is that the US is pushing Russia, Europe and by default Australia into a global war that no ordinary person wants. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Australia gathers about $30 billion annually from food exports. Coincidentally, that is about the same amount we spend each year on defence. Perhaps our Government, which in its wisdom, has lost Australia about $500 million in produce exports in the coming year, could cut back $500 million in defence spending and use it to compensate our food producers?

Oh by the way, I did mention Huawei for those who believe I should only be writing about technology.


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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.