The Australian is a disgusting rag. It’s made up of about 20% distorted news and 80% open or disguised opinion pieces and editorial columns justifying the spin.
As if it’s not bad enough that it has its own stable of hacks like Greg Sheridan, Janet Albrechtsen et al, it has a coterie of former Labor politicians and tame-cat academics who can be relied upon to keep the discourse within the parameters of safe discussion.
The framing of discourse around the stationing of US troops on Australian soil is a case in point.
It is obviously aimed at China, so China has to be demonized to make the betrayal of our independence and sovereignty into a "response" to a China "threat".
For example, comprador academic Paul Dibb was given column space on November 15 to explain how the US troop invasion of Australia protects our sovereignty. His explanation was based on a deficit view of Beijing: "it is open to Beijing to contribute much more to maritime security concerns in the region by supporting the universally recognized Law of the Sea convention…"
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is widely recognized: 161 member states have ratified it.
But it cannot be said to be "universally" recognized while ratification is refused by a major player.
And no, that is not China, which has signed and ratified the Treaty.
It is the United States.
Perhaps the good professor had a senior’s moment and put in "Beijing" where he really meant to say "the United States"….but I think that’s being a little to kind to him.
He knows what he’s doing.
Likewise, on the front page the following day was an EXCLUSIVE (their highlighting and capitalisation) exposure by reporter Cameron Stewart of the "fact" that a "satellite ground station in the West Australian desert is being used by the Chinese military to help locate Australian and US navy warships in the region."
A close reading of the article shows nothing factual at all - just a series of speculations and half-truths emanating from Professor Des Ball, described as "the nation’s foremost expert on space-based espionage".
Despite an Australian government denial of the claims, buried towards the end of the article, this crap piece of pimp journalism was picked up by the likes of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age and given further prominence.
A spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, Miao Miao, had to submit a letter to the Australian to get the Chinese side of the story into print – not on the front page, but tucked away on p. 15 where it was the last letter printed.
Miao Miao found it "difficult to agree with" Cameron Stewart’s article.
"I note his claims," she wrote, "that a satellite ground station at Mingenew is being used to locate US ships.
"In fact, the Australian government recently confirmed that the station is entirely for commercial purposes. It identified no security concerns with operation of the facilities.
"People cannot but wonder the purpose of publishing such an article at this moment.
"China is Australia’s largest trading partner and has never posed any military threat to Australia. Any attempt to spread Cold War remnants is against the trend of the times."
But can we trust a Chinese denial?
It is not a newspaper on the national stage, but the Geraldton Guardian sent out a reporter to discover the truth.
Here is his article:
Chinese "spies" at Mingenew were the flavour of the US presidential visit week, judging by reports in a range of capital city newspapers.
They were excited by President Barack Obama’s declaration that the US would step up its military presence amid "growing fears about the rise of China".
And the satellite tracking station 20km west of Mingenew was claimed to be the target for nefarious Chinese military activities.
Australian National University Professor Des Ball was quoted as saying the federal government may have unwittingly acted against the national interest by allowing China to use the station to track its Shezhou satellite launched on November 1.
The satellite "was not just part of China’s space program but was used to collect electronic emissions from warships", it was claimed.
Geraldton Newspapers decided we had better get on to this, so a reporter and photographer were dispatched to investigate.
There the station’s manager, Vince Noyes, said the original story in a national newspaper was as far from the truth as its observation that Mingenew — in the middle of the Wheatbelt — was in "the WA desert".
"There’s no kerfuffle between the Chinese and the Americans about using the station," he said.
"They both signed international traffic in arms regulations and entered into a technical assistance agreement so China could use the station to track satellites associated with its proposed space station."
As well, Mr Noyes said, everything done through the station — now owned and operated by the Swedish Space Corporation — was overseen by the corporation’s onsite staff.
Mr Noyes works for Electro Optic Systems, which is subcontractor for the corporation’s Mingenew satellite tracking operations.
He said there was nothing secret or sinister about the station, which had been operating in various forms since 1979 before the Swedish Space Corporation became involved.
"Under the arms regulation agreement, required by the US because the corporation is using a satellite station owned by them but built by the Americans, there’s no way the Chinese can use the equipment for anything but scientific purposes," he said.
Mr Noyes said the "kerfuffle" arose because China had taken a lease on satellite station time and had recently placed tracking equipment in the station.
This was being used for tests to ensure correct docking of parts being assembled for the Chinese space station.
Mr Noyes said there were no guards or restrictions on visits to the satellite station, and its facilities were used by the United States, Geoscience Australia and the University of Tasmania as well as the Chinese.
"It’s even on the route for grey nomad wildflower tours," he said.
Mingenew Shire CEO Ian Fitzgerald also discounted claims that it was being used by the Chinese as some form of spy base.
"This has gone viral and I’ve been interviewed by the BBC and a Chinese newspaper about it," he said.
"Happily, the latest publicity simply places Mingenew at the centre of the universe, just where it should be," he said, adding that there might be an opening for a Chinese restaurant in the town.
There’s another reason China might have an interest in Mingenew.
The husband of local baker Michelle Boylands makes the fireworks used in big events in Geraldton.
"I guess we could sell some of them to the Chinese," she said.
So let me get this straight.
The US President stands in an Australian Parliament to lecture China on "playing by the rules" and "upholding international norms".
At the same time, he encourages us to sell uranium to India, one of only three states not to "uphold the international norm" of being a signatory to the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (the others are Pakistan and Israel).
This is after he and Gillard have agreed to disregard "international norms" of political independence, state sovereignty and territorial integrity by stationing US troops on our soil who are answerable only to their own military command.
The purpose, as outlined by Hillary Clinton most clearly in an article in the November edition of Foreign Policy magazine, is to enhance the meddling by the United States in China’s waters under the banner of "defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea".
There is bipartisan support for this from Gillard and Dr No although China, our top foreign direct investment destination and largest trading partner, is a country that has "played by the rules", having ratified the UN Law of the Sea, whilst the US has not.
For the US to dictate the terms of our subservience in disregard of international norms is a disgrace.
And the comprador journalists, like the comprador academics, are simply willing servants of imperialism to be named and shamed.