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Paul Keating blasts Australia's nuclear submarines in pro-China speech

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Paul Keating has blasted Scott Morrison over the decision to build nuclear submarines, saying they will be impotent compared with Chinese naval power by the time they are ready in about 2040. 

The former Prime Minister said the boats will be so outdated that using them would be like throwing toothpicks at a mountain. 

‘Eight submarines against China in 20 years’ time, a handful of toothpicks at the mountain,’ he told the National Press Club on Wednesday. 

Former prime minister Paul Keating appears virtually to address the National Press Club

In September, Mr Morrison cancelled a contract with France for 12 conventional submarines in favour of a new partnership with the US and UK which will give Australia the technology to build nuclear boats for the first time.

But Mr Keating said they will take too long to arrive and pale in comparison to China’s navy which already has six nuclear-powered subs and more than 50 diesel-powered subs.  

Mr Keating, who led Australia as a Labor Prime Minister between 1991 and 1996, said the eight US-style nuclear submarines would have no impact militarily. 

‘These Virginia-class submarines were designed in the 1990s – by the time we have half a dozen of them it’ll be 2045 or 2050 – they’ll be 50 or 60 years old.

‘In other words, our new submarines will be old tech – it’ll be like buying an old 747.

‘And here we are, we’re going to wait 20 odd years to get the first one and 35 to 40 years to get the lot. For what will be then very old boats.’ 

Mr Keating said instead of partnering with the UK and US, Australia should have asked the French about nuclear-powered submarines.

‘If we were unhappy with diesels, the obvious choice was the most modern submarine in the drawing board, which is the French nuclear submarine,’ he said.

This graphic compares the strength of the US navy and Chinese navy

This graphic compares the strength of the US navy and Chinese navy

Mr Keating said Australia was falling in line with the US strategy to use nuclear ‘hunter killer’ submarines to contain China. 

‘The whole point of these hunter killer submarines is to round up the Chinese nuclear submarines and keep them in the shallow waters of the Chinese continental shelf before they get to the Mariana Trench and become invisible,’ he said.

‘To stop them having nuclear capability towards the United States.’

The 77-year-old insisted that China has no desire to expand its territory in the east and said Australia should be focussing on its own defence with conventional subs.

‘[Former Deputy Prime Minister] Kim Beazley and I built the Collins [class submarines]. I built the Anzac frigates, they were built for the defence of Australia. Their range was to stop any incoming vessels, military vessels against us,’ he said.   

But Mr Morrison wants US or UK-style nuclear-powered submarines, which are faster, stealthier and can stay at sea longer than conventional submarines, by 2040.  

Mr Keating also blasted the Morrison Government over its April 2020 call for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, which infuriated China and prompted huge tariffs on Australian imports such as barley and wine. 

He accused Mr Morrison of ‘wantonly leading Australia into a strategic dead end by its needless provocations against China’. 

Instead, he said Australia should show China respect for the way it has brought millions of people out of poverty with rapid economic growth over the past few decades.

‘I think what the Chinese want is the acknowledgement of validity of what they have done and what they have created,’ he said. 

Mr Keating, who has frequently defended the Chinese Government, said Australia also should not get involved in Taiwan.  

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to take it by force if necessary while Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy. 

‘Taiwan is not a vital Australian interest,’ he said.

‘We have no alliance with Taipei, none. Australia should not be drawn in my view into a military engagement over Taiwan, US-sponsored or otherwise.’ 

Last month Taiwan reported 148 Chinese air force planes had flown over its air defence zone (pictured) over a four day period beginning on the same day China marked a key patriotic holiday, National Day

Last month Taiwan reported 148 Chinese air force planes had flown over its air defence zone (pictured) over a four day period beginning on the same day China marked a key patriotic holiday, National Day

The latest criticism of the submarine program comes after French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault accused Australia of stabbing France in the back for the way it failed to tell Paris it was dropping the contract.

Mr Morrison denies lying to President Emmanuel Macron before the announcement and claims France should have realised the $90billion deal was on the rocks – but Mr Thebault said this was ‘fiction’ and used a telling example to prove that France was deceived. 

He referred to a joint statement released on August 30 after a video conference between French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly and their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton.

The statement said the ministers discussed the importance of the submarine deal – but at the same time Australian officials were planning to scrap the agreement and announce a new partnership with the US and UK. 

An awkward handshake in Rome between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) and French President Emmanuel Macron (left) at the G20 summit this week

An awkward handshake in Rome between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) and French President Emmanuel Macron (left) at the G20 summit this week

A joint statement (above) released on August 30 said Australia and France had discussed the importance of the submarine deal. Just two weeks later it was scrapped

A joint statement (above) released on August 30 said Australia and France had discussed the importance of the submarine deal. Just two weeks later it was scrapped

‘What is a hard fact is that still on August 30, French and Australian ministers of foreign affairs and defence had a dialogue, and they agreed a joint communique,’ Mr Thebault said.

‘It was available to the public and widely acclaimed for its ambition. It agreed the following sentence, ”the two countries underline the importance of the Future Submarine program”. 

The deceit was intentional… the way it was handled was plainly a stab in the back 

Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault

‘Do you agree on such a communique when there’s the slightest doubt on something so massive as the official backbone of your co-operation? Maybe on Mars, but not that I know on this planet,’ he said. 

Mr Thebault insisted his leader was ‘misled’ and this amounted to a lie among allies. 

‘Was the president lied to? Yes, he was,’ he said.

‘Maybe there’s a difference between misleading and lying. But, you know, among heads of states and governments, when you mislead a friend and an aIly, you lie to him.’    

A secret leaked text message (pictured) appears to show that Emmanuel Macron was given warning that Australia would torpedo its $90billion submarine deal with France

A secret leaked text message (pictured) appears to show that Emmanuel Macron was given warning that Australia would torpedo its $90billion submarine deal with France

In a bid to prove he did not lie to President Macron, Mr Morrison’s office earlier this week leaked a personal text between the leaders to show the French President knew the agreement was on shaky ground.

President Macron wrote: ‘Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarines ambitions?’ 

Quizzed by reporters in Dubai on Thursday – on his way back from the Glasgow climate summit – Mr Morrison did not deny leaking the text. 

‘Claims had been made and those claims were refuted,’ he said. 

Mr Morrison had conceded Mr Macron was not aware of negotiations with the US and the UK, but said the French leader was told as early as June that Australia was consulting on other options for submarines.  

Why is Australia building nuclear-powered submarines? 

Why nuclear submarines?

Nuclear submarines are powered by nuclear reactors which produce heat that creates high-pressured steam to spin turbines and power the boat’s propeller. 

They can run for about 20 years before needing to refuel, meaning food supplies are the only limit on time at sea.

The boats are also very quiet, making it harder for enemies to detect them and can travel at top speed – about 40kmh – for longer than diesel-powered subs.

The first nuclear submarines were put to sea by the United States in the 1950s. They are now also in use by Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, and India. 

A senior US defence official told reporters in Washington DC: ‘This will give Australia the capability for their submarines to basically deploy for a longer period, they’re quieter, they’re much more capable. 

‘They will allow us to sustain and to improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific.’

Zack Cooper, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, said nuclear submarines would hugely boost Australia’s military capability.

‘They are going to be much, much more capable in the large, expansive ocean that is Australia has to deal with,’ he told the ABC.  

Will Australia have nuclear weapons? 

Scott Morrison made it clear that the nuclear-power submarines will not have nuclear missiles on board.

Australia has never produced nuclear weapons and signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1973 which prevents non-nuclear states which don’t already have them from developing nuclear weapons.

Mr Morrison also said the Australia has no plans to build nuclear power stations which are widely used around the world. 

‘But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,’ he said.

‘And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.’  

Are they safe? 

The nuclear reactors are shielded from the rest of the submarine in a separate section to protect the crew from dangerous radiation. 

The US has an excellent safety record with its nuclear-powered fleet although early Russian subs suffered a few accidents which caused 20 servicemen to die from radiation exposure between 1960 and 1985.

At the end of their 20-year lifetimes, the contaminated parts of nuclear reactors need to be disposed deep underground in special waste storage cells. 

Anti-nuclear campaigners say any leaks of radioactive waste could lead to an environmental disaster. 

Greens leader Adam Bandt called the submarines ‘floating Chernobyls’ in reference to the 1986 nuclear power plant explosion in the Soviet Union.

Why now?

Australia needs to replace its six ageing Collins-class submarines. 

In 2016 it signed a deal with French Company Naval Group to build 12 diesel-electric attack subs – but the parties were in dispute over the amount of building that would be done in Australia.

That deal has now been torn up in favour of nuclear powered subs aided by the US and UK who will provide the technology to Australia.

The West is becoming increasingly concerned about the growing assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region where it has made huge territorial claims in the South and East China seas, clashed with Indian troops and repeatedly flown planes over Taiwan.

Mr Morrison wants Australia to have serious defence capability to deter China from encroaching in the Pacific and long-range nuclear submarines are just the ticket. 

China has vastly built up its military in the past few years and now possesses six Shang-class nuclear powered attack submarines, equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles.    

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‘How many slots are you giving us?’, By Waziri Adio

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I had been in some meetings where those with oversight powers would start by aggressively picking holes in our performance, putting us on the defensive, only to end with: “we got information that you are employing. How many slots are you giving us?”

A major manifestation of our prebendal attitude to public office in Nigeria is the expectation that office holders must help themselves and others around them to jobs, contracts, and sundry favours. This expectation expands to include regular and hefty cash donations, obviously beyond what the salaries and allowances of the office holders could cover. It should be said that the idea of ‘bringing home the pork’ or the concept of patronage politics is not peculiar to our clime. But ours verges on the extreme, and in most cases amounts to a clear abuse of office.

To be sure, there are many laws and regulations aimed at preventing or limiting abuse of office. There is also the open and often-mouthed commitment by most citizens that government exists solely to advance the interests of the collective, not the narrow interests of the lucky few; that public officials should serve the public, and not themselves; that things should be done rightly, and everyone should be given a fair shake.

But these laws and regulations and open commitments are easily undermined and trumped by the prevailing and pervasive culture; one that sees public office as a conquered territory, where the conquerors are at liberty to treat themselves to the spoils of war, and be magnanimous enough to sprinkle the largesse either to those lucky to be close to them on account of kinship, religion or ethnicity or to those who contributed in cash or in kind to their victory. This prevailing culture explains why people hardly raise eyebrows when office holders evidently live beyond their means.


Public office has thus almost become a sure path to wealth for many in our society. Families, friends, and associates of different ilk also expect such wealth to rub off on them, as having one of their own in a position of power is their rare chance to partake in the ‘national cake’. It is their chance to ‘chop’. For most people, ...uring about doing the right thing collapses under the weight of the hidden commitment that they have a right to benefit from being proximate to a person of or in power.

Those who don’t help themselves or others are seen as either stupid, naïve, wicked, or selfish. Also, refusing to help others or to ‘be useful’, especially to patrons and to real or assumed constituents, could set a limit to how long office holders can hold on to the seats or how far they can go. So, layered into these dynamics is not just the nature of the expectations but also the potential costs of not meeting those expectations.

During my five-year stint as the head of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), I opted to tackle this deeply entrenched value system by starting with myself. My reasoning was that not favouring myself or those close to me would give me the moral right to insist on due process and help me secure the understanding, even if grudging, of others. I insisted that procurements and the few recruitments done must be carried out fairly, competitively, and transparently.

Steering clear of conflict of interests remains a big deal for me. I left a standing instruction that the office must never buy food or pastries from my wife who runs a bakery and a food business in Abuja, and that if anyone did, I would not approve the payment. Occasionally, I asked my wife to supply cakes, pastries, and food to the office to mark occasions such as the International Women’s Day or Christmas or the achievement of a major milestone like achieving Satisfactory Progress in EITI Validation. But I paid for these from my pocket, or it would be my wife’s contribution to my work.

It is important to state that these were not requests for their candidates to be given a fair chance to compete but to be favoured, for the process to be bent for them, or for their candidates to be employed without any process at all. The volume of the letters increased and replying to all of them would have been some work all by itself.

On a few occasions, someone that I know would apply for a contract or a job. While I could not stop them from applying, I did nothing to enhance or influence their chances. On such occasions, I would declare my conflict and recuse myself from the process. Of the few people employed under my watch, not one was from my state, my geo-political zone or of the same faith as me. Not that I deliberately stopped anyone from these groups though. But I did not deliberately go out of my way to smoothen the path for anyone either. The only person I had any sort of prior relationship with, who got employed while I was in NEITI, was my erstwhile special assistant, a Christian from Cross River State. He emerged through a competitive process, and I excused myself from the board’s committee that interviewed the candidates when it was his turn, to the surprise of other committee members.

This attitude did not stop many people from asking me to employ or give jobs or contracts to their candidates, constituents, or relatives. I received a steady stream of letters from members of the National Assembly, from presidential aides, traditional rulers and others introducing candidates for employment, even when there were no vacancies or any ongoing recruitment processes. The first of such letters came from a ranking traditional ruler from the South-West, introducing someone from the North-West for employment in NEITI.

I was mindful of the unemployment situation in the country, which most certainly pushes people to desperate lengths, but I also wondered if people actually got employed this way. On my part though, I ensured we replied to such letters promptly by saying that we were not recruiting at that time, and that they would be notified whenever there were positions to be filled. We also never failed to mention that such future recruitments would be done through an open, competitive process.

It is important to state that these were not requests for their candidates to be given a fair chance to compete but to be favoured, for the process to be bent for them, or for their candidates to be employed without any process at all. The volume of the letters increased and replying to all of them would have been some work all by itself. I used to promptly minute on the letters to the appropriate departments, just for their information. However, I made a few exemptions for accepting candidates for NYSC and internship postings, but not for jobs. Even the exemptions did not apply to anyone personally known to me.

But it is not seen as unusual or unexpected for public officials, especially CEOs, to employ their relatives and others from their clans, communities, states, or tribes. Even some who are not CEOs manage to wangle such. In some instances, it is easy to know where the head of or the most powerful person in an organisation is from based on the state with the highest number of staff in the organisation or the language or the dialect mostly spoken as if it is the official language. In fact, one of the warped metrics for measuring the performance of public officials in their communities is the number of ‘their people’ that they employed.

Apart from violating the tenets of conflict of interests and advantaging those already privileged, this and other preferential approaches to recruitment invariably create a lopsided workforce, reduce the faith of young people in their country, and shut out the best and brightest where they are sorely needed. As the head of NEITI, I had relatives and siblings looking for jobs, not to speak of friends and others. The most I could do was to point them at opportunities or provide them with financial support.

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The fact that you choose not to bend the system for your relatives and friends would not discourage others from pressing you to employ their own friends and relatives though. In fact, some of those making requests could be quite daring. I remember one of the traditional rulers of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) mounting vigil at our office gate in Asokoro with the full paraphernalia of office. He drove straight after me into the compound. I had been out in the official car, so it was difficult to claim that I was not in the office or that I was in a meeting. So, I had to see him.

There were occasions when my explanation of our tight financial situation and the need to follow due process fell on deaf ears. Those seeking favours would promise to talk to higher ups in government to get our budget increased and released in full so that we could employ more people, especially their candidates.

He started out speaking to me in Hausa (many people do so because of my first name), and when he realised that I was Yoruba, he switched to impeccable Yoruba. He came to hand-deliver letters that he had sent earlier with CVs of his subjects that must be employed in NEITI. I respectfully explained our situation to him and promised to inform him anytime there was an opening. He sounded impressed by my explanation. I saw him off to his car, half-prostrated in respect for him, and even waited till his car left.

There were occasions when my explanation of our tight financial situation and the need to follow due process fell on deaf ears. Those seeking favours would promise to talk to higher ups in government to get our budget increased and released in full so that we could employ more people, especially their candidates. Since these were things that would happen in the future, and which I knew were likely not going to happen, I would often play along, as arguing with such people would have been a waste of time anyway. There were also those who took it upon themselves to advise me to employ my own people, as ‘that is what everyone does.’ It was made clear to me that if you don’t help your own people, you would be reminded of it when you need them in the future, possibly if you are seeking elective office. A cleric once told me that I should assist people of the same faith because “this is Nigeria, everyone assists their own.”

I remember vividly an encounter with the chairman of a National Assembly committee who had sent for me. Based on prior encounters, I knew there had to be something. I went to see him with one of the directors to make sure I had a witness. Before we could finish exchanging pleasantries, he brought out an envelope and called in a man who had been waiting in the outer part of his office before our arrival.

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“I know how much I put in your last budget for your audit,” he stated, matter-of-factly. “This is the man that will do the audit and here is his proposal. Go and work it out with him.”

This was the budget before I assumed office and luckily for me, the contract had been awarded. I disclosed this to him, adding that the procurement of the NEITI auditors was an extended, open process that would be difficult for anyone to control. The only thing I could do was to get our team to explain the process to his candidate so that he could submit a competitive bid in the future. He grudgingly accepted.

I developed different ways of handling these requests, from offering to visit VIPs who would have requested to see me, through painting a very grim but truthful picture of our financial situation in ways that would evoke pity, to taking time to explain why we had to do things in an open and transparent way or promising to help in other ways or when things improved. But I guess it also helped that there was nothing they could use to force my hands. Abuja is a very small place with little secrets. If I had been helping myself and those close to me, they would have gotten a whiff of it and there could have been investigations, especially from those with oversight powers, to put me on the spot and possibly to extract concessions out of me.

I had been in some meetings where those with oversight powers would start by aggressively picking holes in our performance, putting us on the defensive, only to end with: “we got information that you are employing. How many slots are you giving us?”

Waziri Adio is the erstwhile Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

This is an edited excerpt from The Arc of the Possible, his memoir that will be on sale from December 1.

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Australian TV reporter celebrates huge health victory – as wife changes one word on Twitter bio 

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Veteran Australian journalist Hugh Riminton has revealed his wife has beaten breast cancer in a moving post on Twitter. 

‘And my best news of the day..? My wife has quietly changed her twitter profile from ‘Aspiring Breast Cancer Survivor’, dropping the first word. Been a long road,’ he wrote.

The national affairs editor at Channel 10 news added ‘Welcome back’, to his wife, fellow journalist Mary Lloyd. 

Channel 10 journalist Hugh Riminton (pictured left) has used a late night Twitter post to reveal a health update about his wife Mary Lloyd (pictured right)

Mary Lloyd (pictured) didn't know how she would feel about losing her hair, but the children were not concerned at all, which helped

Mary Lloyd (pictured) didn’t know how she would feel about losing her hair, but the children were not concerned at all, which helped

In an interview with Woman’s Day magazine in mid-2020, Ms Lloyd spoke about how having chemotherapy during Covid-19 isolation made a difficult situation even worse.

Mr Riminton, 60, had to isolate away from his wife, 46, who is a landscape photographer and journalist, as the treatment left her immune system very vulnerable to infection.

She said the experience was hard on the entire family, but especially for her husband.

‘He was working every day, doing his best to bring us the supplies we needed, but not getting any of the uplift from being part of the family, hanging out with the kids or really having any contact with us.

‘That was an enormous sacrifice he made to keep me safe and I’m incredibly grateful for all the support he’s given me.’

Ms Lloyd said she was fortunate to have a supportive husband and three loving kids, Coco, 15, Jacob, 12, and Holly, nine, to help her through the worst of her battle.

‘I really want my kids to have a worry-free childhood, and I didn’t like the thought of them being concerned about me, but kids get a sense of what’s going on without you telling them,’ she said.

Mary Lloyd (pictured) has changed her Twitter bio from 'Aspiring Breast Cancer Survivor' to 'Breast Cancer Survivor'

Mary Lloyd (pictured) has changed her Twitter bio from ‘Aspiring Breast Cancer Survivor’ to ‘Breast Cancer Survivor’

Ms Lloyd told the children straight up about what she was going through. ‘They’ve been an enormous source of comfort and support throughout the whole thing,’ she said. 

She didn’t know how she would feel about losing her hair, but the children were not concerned at all, which helped her.   

Her daughter Holly even made a joke at school pick-up about it, calling a friend over to show her she could pull clumps of her mum’s hair out.  

Ms Lloyd was so concerned about catching Covid that her oncologist asked her to consider giving up chemo to lessen her risk, but Holly inspired her to keep going.

‘I think when you start something you should see it through,’ Holly told her mum.

Hugh Riminton (pictured left) was awed by how his wife Mary Lloyd (pictured right) dealt with her cancer treatment

Hugh Riminton (pictured left) was awed by how his wife Mary Lloyd (pictured right) dealt with her cancer treatment

She continued and finished chemotherapy in mid-2020. After that she started radiation treatment, while her earlier surgery got rid of the tumours.  

And almost 18 months on she has now changed her Twitter bio from ‘Aspiring Breast Cancer Survivor’ to ‘Breast Cancer Survivor’.

Throughout her treatment, Ms Lloyd took comfort from being able to photograph the people who rallied around her, from her children to neighbours who dropped in food and the health workers who treated her.

Mr Riminton was awed by how his wife had dealt with it all.  

‘Ernest Hemingway said that courage is defined as grace under pressure. And what I’ve seen in Mary in these last few months is not a great surprise to me, but it’s remarkable all the same,’ he said. 

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Tesla car melted down into bust of Elon Musk

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Russian luxury accessory brand Caviar has launched sales of busts of Tesla CEO Elon Musk; which it claims are made from the melted-down parts of a Tesla electric car.

According to the company, it has made 27 of the 20cm-tall (8in-tall) Musk busts as part of a limited-edition set; which is available worldwide at $3,220 each.

 

“The exclusive, extra-limited version of the desk bust of Elon Musk; is no longer just a portrait of the great visionary. This is, one might say; the quintessence of his progressive inventions and ingenious thoughts,”  the company press release says.

 

The bust was made out of the melted metal of a blue Tesla Model 3; Caviar’s Head of Marketing Dmitry Stolyarov told Business Insider, adding that the sculpture’s likeness of Musk had been especially crafted by a 3D artist.

 

We didn’t download it from the internet,”  he said.

 

 

 

When asked about the discrepancies between the bust design and Musk’s appearance; Stolyarov explained that the goal was not to create photographic accuracy but an image of the inventor in which all his achievements and inventions are reflected.” 

 

Caviar is also selling iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Max designs made from Tesla parts, starting at $5,600 per item.

 

They have a portrait of Musk in the top right corner – an engraving in copper derived from a Tesla battery.

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