After Australia’s announcement on its nuclear-powered submarines, the former Labor prime minister Paul Keating unleashed a vicious rant against the party he formerly headed.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gathered with his United Kingdom colleague Rishi Sunak and United States President Joe Biden in San Diego, California this week to launch the next stages in the AUKUS trilateral security relationship.

Beginning in the early 2030s, Australia will get three nuclear-powered submarines of the Virginia class from the United States before going on to operate the SSN-AUKUS, a submarine-based on a British design that combines components from the three nations.

The statement was the worst foreign move by an Australian Labor administration since Billy Hughes’ attempt to enact conscription in World War I, according to Mr. Keating, a strong opponent of AUKUS.

“Because underlying all this stuff about the need of nuclear power is the idea that China has either threatened us, or will threaten us,” he said.

“Now, this is a distortion and it’s untrue. The Chinese have never implied that they would threaten us or said it explicitly. But what ‘threaten us’ means is an invasion of Australia.

“It doesn’t mean firing a few missiles off the coast like the Japanese submarines did in 1943, firing a few things into the eastern suburbs of Sydney. It means an invasion. All great battles are fought on land. They’re fought as invasions.

“The only way the Chinese could threaten Australia or attack it is on land. That is, they bring an armada of troop ships with a massive army to occupy us, this is not possible for the Chinese to do.”

The Chinese would “need to come 13 days of steaming, say 8,000 kilometres between Beijing or Shanghai and Brisbane,” according to Mr. Keating, who backed up his assertion.



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