As a fellow resident of Cowper I can understand that we can be consumed with local issues that directly impact families in our towns, such as sporting grounds, healthcare or the cost of electricity.
Although, these issues are at the forefront of our mind there are also external and seemingly hidden factors which directly contribute to our way of life.
As a nation we are directly impacted by issues both at home and abroad.
Most people will appreciate that China has become increasingly rich over the last three decades (defence spending increasing 500% between 1997-2010 alone).
With this wealth China has built up its military capabilities. A major development consists of the military build-up on artificial islands in the South China Sea on top of developments at Yulin Naval Base.
China’s military build-up on artificial islands created in the South China Sea has changed the reliability nations can expect of shipping lanes.
Those sea lanes are now militarily contested when they weren’t before, and since 2009 China has claimed sovereignty over nearly the entirety of the South China Sea.
China is well aware of the changed security dynamic it has unilaterally forced on the world. It is a unilateral military action of force that changes the entire global security situation, even though not a drop of blood was spilled.
China concealed their construction of these artificial islands and the build-up of military on these new islands presenting this recent fait accompli to the world, confirmed for the first time in early 2017.
China can no longer be trusted at their own words when it comes to acting with force external to China’s agreed boundaries, and because it can’t be trusted, and the significance these actions have in degrading security and safety, China now constitutes a much larger threat to Taiwan, SE Asian nations, Australia and others.
It is in light of this new reality we will conduct a Federal election.
Australia cannot afford to be asleep at the wheel while China is acting hostile to the current world order, its unilateral action is hostile to global laws, rules and conventions, even if it hasn’t physically hurt anyone yet.
None of us need the cost of living to increase if trade is impacted, and we certainly don’t need to lose our sons and daughters in military conflict through the ignorance of Federal candidates.
How should this information inform your vote in the upcoming election; simply put there are three dangerous responses to this new threat:
First is to pretend it doesn’t exist, to downplay it to such an extent as to pretend this is a natural result of China’s increased wealth, we must be clear it is a threat and China does not have to conduct itself in this dishonest way.
Second, is to look at all money spent on our immediate region outside of Australia and see it as a waste of money.
To even consider Australia’s defences should be limited to Australia is weakness, Australia is and should project defences as far forward as possible to meet this and other threats before they hit territorial Australia, not after.
Spending money on our relationship with Indonesia, PNG, Fiji and other Pacific nations on our doorstep ensure we have triggers for military response before the mainland.
We can’t stop these nations getting caught up in this change in international security but we can help them, and in return help ourselves stay safe.
The third and final poor response would be to assume war is inevitable, true weakness invites war, but Australia is not weak, and if we continue to stand our ground against China we have as good a chance as any to avoid military conflict.
We need level-headed candidates capable of determining what is required to provide a credible defence against coercion. I hope we all return a good candidate across Australia, but especially here in Cowper.