Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Former Prime Minister Fraser opposes new US bases in Australia

Malcolm Fraser (left) became Australia's Prime Minister in 1975 a constitutional coup that saw the Queen of England's representative in the supposedly sovereign nation of Australia withdraw the commission granted to the elected Whitlam Labor Government.  Fraser had provoked a crisis by using the Liberal-National Coalition's majority in the Senate to block the Supply Bills that were required to provide money for the Whitlam Government's Budget.

With the support of the Murdoch press, Fraser quite convincgly won the next election and set about dismantling many of the welfare measures enacted by Whitlam, and in particular, the universal health care scheme Medibank.  he also tightened the penal provisions against industrial action.

With his rich squatter background, and his aloof patrician demeanour, Fraser further alienated working class Australians when he infamously said in parliament that "Life wasn't meant to be easy".

Although he lost the 1983 election to the former head of the Australian trade union movement, Bob Hawke, he had taken several steps that revealed a certain far-sightedness as a member of the ruling class.  He introduced land rights legislation to pacify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activists who were becoming more militant and directing their political anger at giant multinational pastoral and mining companies.  And he took a stand against apartheid in South Africa and against white minority rule in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

In recent times he worked closely with Gough Whitlam, his former political adversary, on issues ranging from the argument for a republican Australia to the humane reception of asylum seekers.  He was openly critical of John Howard's neo-liberalism.

Fraser's latest comment, below, has been taken from the Fairfax press, and follows a submission to a Government White Paper on Australia's relations with Asia in which Fraser stated that if Australia continued to be "a compliant ally of a virtually defeated super-power", then it risked "being taken as a prize by China".

All of which underscores the contemporary validity of Lenin's method of exploring the contradictions between imperialist powers for the redvision of the world into spheres of influence, sources of raw materials and markets for the export of capital. So long as imperialism exists, warned Lenin, so does the danger of war. 

US Marine 'Base' Is a Mistake, Says Fraser

The Age (Australia)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

THE former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser (above) says the new American marine "base" near Darwin is a mistake, and that Australia's grovelling to Washington is hampering ties with Asia.

In a strongly worded submission to the federal government's white paper on future relations with Asia, Mr Fraser has criticised Australia's subservience to the US as a product of misguided assumptions America offers a security guarantee.

"Over 20 years now we have given the impression of doing that which America wants," Mr Fraser writes.

"We seem to believe that our security can be best assured if we do what we can to win brownie points with the US. This is a mistaken assumption.

''No country can really win brownie points with great powers. Great powers follow their own national interests and we should follow ours."

Mr Fraser is highly critical of the deployment of US marines in the Northern Territory, saying it fuels Chinese concerns over a policy of containment. He also dismisses claims by Labor and the Obama administration that the presence of the marines does not amount to a "base".

"For America to say that 2500 troops do not constitute a base is nonsense, indeed a fabrication," Mr Fraser writes.

"In military terms, a base does not have to be bricks and mortar. If  2500 troops are stationed in a particular place then the language makes it quite plain that they are based in that place. It is a base.

"To say that they are just passing through and that it is not a base is deceptive and misleading. It sends the wrong message, not only to China, but to countries like Indonesia."

He told the Herald he was also concerned Australia would lose more of its independence in Asia should the US turn Cocos Island into a base for unmanned surveillance drones, as reported last month in The Washington Post.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, commissioned a white paper last year guided by the former head of Treasury, Ken Henry, titled Australia in the Asian Century.

Mr Fraser said he had only decided to put his thoughts on paper after the marines' presence in Darwin was announced and reports of plans for a US military presence in the Cocos Islands emerged.

In his submission, he said he was not against the US alliance but for Australian independence.

He said in assessing what to do in the future, Australia should conscious of our history and a dependence on Britain before World War II: "We believed that Britain would be able to secure our future," he writes. "It never occurred to us that Britain would be so preoccupied, so beleaguered, that in a situation of emergency she would not be able to help."

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