Australia news updates live: Paul Keating says submarine plan ‘like throwing a handful of toothpicks at the mountain’

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When asked whether Australia should be concerned that Chinese president Xi Jinping is effectively president for life, Keating says he would like to see Chinese leaders have 10-year term limits, but stresses that western nations do not understand the mindset in China:

China is broadly a Confucian society that believes in harmony, in authority and it is with this background that it accepts, I think broadly, the role of the Chinese Communist party. I mean, the idea that we have, if you don’t vote local ballot box, that is, if you are not a Jeffersonian liberal, then you are a savage, it belies the fact that China has a 4,000-year history which has these characteristics about it.

He says Xi has been at war against corruption, but says that does not excuse the use of facial recognition technology or attempts to control the internet and the content on the internet.

But nevertheless, there is a background in Chinese society which is about harmony, which has a Confucian basis to it, we don’t understand in the west and we have never had in the west. Does all that add up to mean, this guy is better with another term? I don’t think it does.



Canberra hospitals are now free of active Covid-19 patients for the first time since the beginning of the Delta outbreak in the ACT, AAP reports.

It comes as the national capital recorded nine new cases in the latest reporting period.

ACT health authorities reported there were no Covid-19 patients in the territory’s hospitals, the first time the milestone has occurred since Canberra went into lockdown in mid-August.

Vaccination levels have risen to 95.6% of over-12s being fully vaccinated.

The territory’s high vaccination rates have led to the easing of restrictions being brought forward by two weeks.

From Friday, visitor limits to households will be scrapped, density caps will be lowered in hospitality and retail, stadiums and entertainment venues will be able to open at 100% capacity, and nightclubs will be allowed to open their doors.

There are now 150 active cases in the Canberra community.

Testing levels remained relatively high, with 1,910 tests conducted on Tuesday.Canberra hospital in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP© Provided by The Guardian Canberra hospital in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP



Keating says Taiwan is “not a vital Australian interest” and Australia should not be involved in military engagement over Taiwan.

The first point is, Taiwan is not a vital Australian interest, let me repeat that, Taiwan is not a vital Australian interest. We have no alliance with Taipei, none. There is no document you can find. We do not recognise it as a sovereign state right? And under Anzus, Anzus commits us under an attack on US forces but not by US forces. We are committed under Anzus to an attack on US forces but not an attack by US forces which means Australia should not be drawn in my view into a military engagement over Taiwan, US sponsored or otherwise. As Xi Jinping said otherwise recently, we will try to resolve this harmoniously.

He says the only time China attacks or gets involved with Taiwan is if the Americans and Taiwanese try to declare a change of status of Taiwan, and if it stays as is, then things will be harmonious.Former prime minister Paul Keating appears virtually to address the National Press Club in Canberra. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP© Provided by The Guardian Former prime minister Paul Keating appears virtually to address the National Press Club in Canberra. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Submarines project ‘a handful of toothpicks at the mountain’


Former prime minister Paul Keating has called the federal government’s planned submarine project under Aukus “a handful of toothpicks at the mountain” and will be “very old boats” when they’re ready by 2040:

Eight submarines against China in 20 years time, a handful of toothpicks at the mountain. Kim Beazley and I … built the Collins. 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. What Arthur is talking about is our attack class submarines to contain Chinese submarines, hunter killer submarines and knock them out. What has that got to do with the defence of Australia and what possible impact could we have militarily with eight submarines Arthur Sinodinos?

These submarines were designed in the 1990s. By the time we have half a dozen of them, it will be 2035, they will be 60 years old. In other words, our new submarines will be old tech, 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.

He says the French nuclear submarines would have been the newest in the world.

If we were unhappy with diesels, the obvious choice was the most modern submarine in the drawing board, which is the French nuclear submarine. No no, we are rushing over, this has the Liberal party fingerprint all over it, they’re going to rush back to the Americans, to a data design but 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. To stop them having nuclear capability towards the United States.



WA police have confirmed the arrest of two men after they allegedly drove through a border checkpoint.

In a statement, police say a 17-year-old male driver and his 24-year-old male passenger were attempting to return to WA by road from NSW, via Victoria and South Australia, but his G2G pass had been rejected multiple times for “failing to meet the threshold to be granted entry from an ‘Extreme Risk’ location”.

A subsequent G2G Pass application was accepted on 7 November, suggesting he had been in South Australia for the previous fortnight.

They attempted to cross the border on Monday and were turned around. Police say the car returned later that day, and attempted to drive through the checkpoint.

About 6:25pm the same vehicle re-attended the checkpoint and it will be alleged the vehicle was driven through the checkpoint at high speed, failing to stop for police.

The vehicle was later located about 20km east of Norseman. The two occupants were arrested without incident and have been tested for COVID-19.

Both men have been charged with three counts of Fail to Comply with a Direction.



The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) is urging the Victorian government to rethink its decision to allow unvaccinated visitors to residential aged care homes.

The state government eased the restrictions on visitors on 29 October, allowing each aged care resident up to five visitors per day, as well as allowing unvaccinated visitors, as long as they avoided common areas and visited outdoors or in the resident’s room.

But the AACC, along with Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) have raised concerns at the decisions.

The AACC said in a statement they had written to chief health officer Brett Sutton, seeking a meeting on the matter.

The AACC has written to the Victoria Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton seeking a meeting as a matter of urgency. The AACC is a group of six aged care peak bodies representing more than 1000 aged care providers delivering care to nearly a million older Australians.

None of us want to experience the high rate of disease in facilities again given the traumatic experience in Victoria last year.

There are still high rates of community transmission in Victoria and even though the workforce and a high proportion of residents are vaccinated the presence of unvaccinated visitors poses too much of a risk particularly to vulnerable older residents.

Vaccination is one of the most important defences available to protect our older Australians. We therefore, urge the Victorian Government to reconsider this position.

NSW, the ACT and South Australia only allow fully vaccinated people to visit at aged care facilities.



Good afternoon, Mostafa Rachwani with you this afternoon, taking the blog into the evening. Before we dive in, a quick thanks to Josh Taylor and Matilda Boseley for their work this morning.



And with that, I will hand you over to my excellent colleague, Mostafa Rachwani, who will take you through the next little while.


03:01 Christopher Knaus

The federal government is attempting to lead new “super-secret” evidence against Bernard Collaery in the Timor-Leste spying case, prompting fury from Collaery and warnings from a supreme court judge that it may cause a “perpetual vortex” of delay and secrecy.

Collaery, a barrister charged for his role in exposing Australia’s bugging of Timor-Leste, won a major victory last month, when the ACT court of appeal overturned orders shrouding much of his looming trial in secrecy.

The court found the risk posed to national security by hearing the case in public was minimal, while open justice was crucial in deterring “political prosecutions”, among other things.

On Wednesday, however, lawyers for attorney general Michaelia Cash told the ACT supreme court that they wanted to introduce “updated” evidence about the national security risks posed by hearing aspects of the Collaery case openly.

They argued the national security situation had changed significantly in the 20 months that it has taken for Colleary’s appeal to be heard and resolved.

The government now wants to produce new “court-only evidence” – evidence only the judge can see, and not Collaery – on the security risks. It wants to appoint its own special counsel, paid for by the commonwealth, to examine the material on behalf of Collaery.

Collaery’s barrister, Christopher Ward, SC, criticised the move as a “carte-blanche” attempt to reopen the case by leading fresh evidence.

“It’s described gently as being updated evidence, but it’s fresh evidence, your honour,” he said.

The process that the commonwealth want to take to get the new evidence before the court would take months and may trigger another appeal, extending the timetable further.

Justice David Mossop questioned whether there would ever be an end to the case, if the attorney general wanted to continually produce new evidence updating the court on new developments in national security.

“Is there any prospect of this matter ever being completed? Or will we be stuck in a perpetual vortex of updating,” he said. “You may not want to answer that but I’m just telling you what I think, and perhaps thinking out loud a little too much.”

Outside of court, Collaery slammed the move, saying he was wholly opposed to the commonwealth relying on new “super-secret evidence” that was kept from him and his lawyers.

This takes the commonwealth’s hypocritical obsession with secrecy to new heights when one considers recent events.

I strongly object to the court being given and relying on evidence we can’t see. It’s a shameful mockery of open justice.


02:53 Peter Hannam

Pretty wet across much of Australia today, as hinted by this recent satellite image from Japan’s Himawari satellite.Satellite image of Australia on 10/11/2021 Photograph: Supplied© Provided by The Guardian Satellite image of Australia on 10/11/2021 Photograph: Supplied

Flooding is possible across five states and territories in coming days, as we have already seen in those pics of flooding near Alice Springs earlier today on this blog.

#Flooding is likely to develop across at least 5 states and territories during the next few days, with Flood Watches currently stretching 2,500 km across the country. ⚠️

More at— Weatherzone (@weatherzone) November 9, 2021

Emergency services are gearing up for quite a lot of flooding, according to internal details circulated to staff about “potential adverse weather”.

The deep low pressure system moving across the continent is interacting with very humid tropical air, and watch out behind it because some chilling winds are coming and snowfalls in alpine areas of southern NSW are possible.

For NSW at least the ranges, western slopes and plains and the north-east are likely to cop the heaviest falls. Some areas will top 150mm and require some record refreshing for November totals, the internal information states.

Mind you, there’s a lot in the public domain too, including a lengthy list of areas in NSW facing the prospect of widespread flooding, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

BoM’s national warnings include flood risks in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland, along with the ACT and NSW.

The risks have been amplified by previous falls making catchments pretty saturated to start with, and more than a few major inland dams close to full if they are not already.

Thunderstorm activity, which is harder to predict precisely, carries the threat of flash flooding but also hailstones, if you’re unlikely enough to be under one.

And we mentioned here yesterday, most of us can expect a wetter than usual few months to come.



Keating then stated the US misunderstands its role in our region:

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