Wednesday 19th of June 2024

going troppo: bending submarines while still bending bananas....

The by-now mythical figure of $368 billion for the AUKUS submarine mirage is creating a frenzy. So far, we’ve seen some of those billions go to shipyards in the US and the UK, but now Queensland’s Banana Shire wants their own slice of the action. What’s the scam?


Banana Shire takes AUKUS by storm. What’s the scam?

    by Kim Wingerei |


The scam is the AUKUS Forum. The Forum “brings together industry, academia, researchers, government, and defence […] in a desire to make AUKUS work, and identify the opportunities it presents.” In other words, there’s a big pot of gold, let’s go get our share.

Co-chaired by former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and former Ambassador and Liberal stalwart Arthur Sinodinos, the AUKUS Forum is a registered company with a paid-up capital of $12 and a single shareholder, Michael Sharpe. Sharpe has the longest LinkedIn profile this writer has ever seen, and on the Forum website, he claims to have “a personal contact base of over 100,000 people.”

MWM has not yet been able to establish how the Forum is funded, but according to its website, it is creating an extraordinary amount of interest and activity.

The forum’s latest announcement is apparently ‘historic’: “Banana Shire Council and the AUKUS Forum have signed a landmark partnership, marking the first-ever membership agreement between a Local Government body and the AUKUS Forum.”

The Banana Shire is east of Bundaberg in Queensland. It is landlocked. According to Mayor Nev Ferrier, the AUKUS Forum represents substantial benefits, “including job creation, investment attraction, economic growth and diversification.”

We have no doubt that Ferrier and the Shire’s 14,500 inhabitants are sick of banana jokes, so we won’t add to that. But we do note that according to the Shire’s website, apart from being home to a coal mine and an ammonium nitrate manufacturing plant, it’s mainly an agricultural area that specialises in produce such as herbs and spices, squab (pigeon meat), mungbeans and leaf processing.

We can only speculate on which of these areas will benefit most from Submarines being built in the UK and the US, the announcement is long on rhetoric and very, very short on detail. But who are we to argue? That AUKUS pot of gold is very real, even if the rainbow isn’t.



war toys....

As a war breaks out between the Defence Minister’s Office and his Department, and as the Auditor-General hands down another scathing annual Defence Major Projects Report, Rex Patrick examines the Future Frigate Farce and explains why Richard Marles and the Defence Diarchy has to go.

A shambles in Defence leadership

On Tuesday, we saw media reports that the Future Frigate Program will likely be reduced from nine ships to three. 

On Wednesday, Senator Lambie stood up in the Senate chamber and summed up the Defence Department as a “very, very expensive basket case”.

On Thursday there were more reports in the media, this time triggered by the blame game that’s erupted between Defence Minister Richard Marles’ office and the most senior officers of the Defence Force and his department. 

Competitive leaking has surged on both sides of Lake Burley Griffin, the likes we haven’t seen since Joel Fitzgibbon lost his job as Defence Minister back in 2009.

On Friday, the Auditor-General released his annual report into the 20 current major Defence projects revealing, “The total approved budget for the 20 Major Projects has increased by $22.8B (39%) since initial Second Pass Approval by government” and the “total schedule slippage was 453 months (23%) when compared to initial project planning”.

Something has to happen with the dysfunctional Defence leadership, and what’s required is not what happened on Australia Day with the award of the Order of Australia to the Secretary of Defence, Greg Moriarty, on Australia Day. For the past six years he’s presided, with a bloated salary of almost a million dollars per annum, over what can only be described a shambles. Talk about devaluing the honours system.

I’ll come back to what needs to happen.

Frigate trim

It’s an old joke from the BBC TV series “Yes Minister” that the ship of state is the only ship to leak from the top.  

It’s nowhere truer than in our Defence Department.  

This week, another leak coming from inside Defence indicated that the Government may take the troubled nine-ship future frigate program and chop it down to just three ships.

That could only be described as just plain stupid.

Most of the cost of designing and producing a new class ship comes with the first ship. Most of the cost of fixing problems with a new class of ship comes with the first, second, and third ship. It makes no sense at all to limit an order to three ships. 

If Defence thinks that the future frigate ship design is good enough to buy three to put our sailors in and send it in harm’s way, then they should continue with the nine-build program so that they can bring the unit cost down over a large build.

If Defence thinks the ship is a dud, it should cut our losses now and move to an off-the-shelf design, built here in Australia starting later this year.

Of course, such a decision would involve admitting to another massively embarrassing failure.  

But it looks like dumb and dumber are again in charge.



It’s worth looking into the Future Frigate program.

When the program first became a topic of discussion inside Defence way back in 2014 (yes, to go from an initial thought to still having no future frigates at all has taken Defence the length of World War I and World War II and then some) the plan was to go with an off-the-shelf design – that is, a design that was already at sea working.

They set a budget at an eye-watering $30B dollars.

When the tender came out in 2016, the position of the Department was clear – they wanted a military-off-the-shelf design with minimal change.





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peaceful war......


by Kim Wingerei


Israel struck a Mosque in Gaza yesterday, a kindergarten too, fired rockets into Lebanon and raided the West Bank, but if you read today’s mainstream media headlines, the Middle East might as well be at peace. Like the war in Ukraine, it’s no longer front-page news in Australia.

The SMH and The Age both carry an analysis today buried down in their World section decrying Israel not doing a deal with Hamas, The Australian has a puff piece by Chris Mitchell blaming the media for Middle East misinformation (sic), and the ABC‘s website has another analysis piece currently sitting at number eight on their home page.

Even The Guardian has pushed Israel war coverage well below the fold, except for a story about those pesky Houthis. And their long-running daily updates from Ukraine disappeared weeks ago.

But hey, the Grammy’s are on, and our Kylie is back on the podium, so what gives?

Meanwhile, Hamas is still holding more than a hundred hostages, the US is raining bombs on Yemen and other belligerents, and the people of Gaza remain without medical supplies, water and food. That’s not a concern to President Biden, though, who has presented Congress with a $US118B package that includes another $US60B of support to Ukraine and $US14.1B to Israel.

Biden does, however, reassure the world that the US does not really seek conflict.





paul barry is a useless idiot....


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UK Red-faced As 2nd British Warship - HMS Prince Of Wales - 'Fails' To Join NATO Wargames | Report