If the plan is implemented, Australia is at risk of the creation of a Third Force designed to lurk under the veneer of so-called democratic government with highly authoritarian potential to disregard civil liberties and values, a classic far-right political position.
New National Security Strategy
While nations around the world struggle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, committees convened in Canberra have been quietly discussing contingency planning for the post-virus world with a new national security strategy. The Intelligence Committee, chaired by Liberal M.P. Andrew Hastie a former SAS Captain, has been quick to mobilise right-wing opinion for far more than a return to normalcy as they seek to strengthen class and state power. (1) Hand-picked committee members include political and business elites together with a number of senior former military personnel; economic considerations have merged with security concerns and other matters.
The committee would appear to be based on similar organisation following the Global Financial Crisis of September, 2008. Over the 14-15 November the same year, a summit convened in Washington for heads of state formulated planning for an internationally co-ordinated crisis management which was then regarded as historically unique.
he summit was concerned with three areas affecting the global economy: economic, to prevent collapse; political, with fears of massive protests from workers; and security, which gave rise to the US establishing a directorate of national intelligence to assess threats to systems, and ideology, and to co-ordinate centralised information to prevent widespread criticism of the system from spreading. (2) Military considerations lay behind all three areas of concern.
Amid the discussion points on the agenda for the recent Australian Intelligence Committee, arising from a more assertive United States attempting to reassert its traditional hegemonic position, however, two points important have arisen.
Economic decline of Australian capitalism
Decades of enforced globalisation through international financial institutions controlled by the US, have not boosted Australia's economic fortunes. In fact, the opposite has occurred, as financiers have flung capital to the four corners of the globe in search of ever higher returns for shareholders. Decades of this spurious race-to-the-bottom cost-cutting and slavish adherence to economic rationalism, has seriously weakened Australia's ability to deal with crisis. And despite continuing to flout an innocent all things bright and beautiful mentality, even the mainstream media controlled by those who have the upper hand with class and state power have to acknowledge GDP growth, the only reliable indicator of the country's economic well-being, is in terminal decline.
From their own publications the following information has been readily accessible.
While global GDP growth has sunk from about 3.5 per cent in 2015 to well below three per cent since during the 2015-19 period, Australia's has sunk from six per cent in the early 1990s to about two per cent this year, a twenty per cent decline. (3) Australia's mediocre economic performance can be largely attributed to the decline of manufacturing which has also resulted in the country becoming dependent upon imported produce. In the five-year period 2011-16, there was a 24 per cent reduction in manufacturing jobs, from 902,829 to 683,688, a trend which has continued to the present time. (4)
A continuation of the present level of decline will see Australia's GDP growth disappear during the present decade. Crisis management, for the Intelligence Committee, has become, therefore, a matter of some considerable urgency.
Dependence of foreign supply chains
It is not surprising to find the advocates of a new national security strategy have been concerned with Australia's dependence upon imported produce, including medicines and oil. Australia is about ninety per cent dependent upon imported medicines. (5) The fact the country has now no 'Australian-flagged tankers, or any other international ships, to deliver the precious cargo', has raised serious security concerns. (6)
From behind the scenes, however, there has been no public discussion about changing the economic model responsible for the problem; the trend toward globalisation and so-called 'free trade agreements' (FTAs), between individual countries and whole regions of the world. The agreements were also been legally ratified and enforced through international institutions such as GATT. Re-negotiation would be a lengthy process, if possible, at all.
Talk about changing the economic model would obviously make those privileged enough to spend their time in air-conditioned and centrally-heated work environments, with index-linked pensions for life, a little uncomfortable. Those concerned have received the benefits of casino-type economics; they expect others to bite the bullet while they carry on regardless. The head of the National Security College at the ANU in Canberra, Rory Metcalf, for example, was quoted as stating 'Australians will face fresh obligations as community members', following the passing of the pandemic. (7)
No reference was made about his changed circumstances and fresh obligations to society.
Non-military national service
One committee agenda item carefully hidden amidst the general media release, however, can be regarded as particularly revealing about the type of Australia such people are planning to implement. The once-advocates of laissez faire attitudes, now recommend regimentation for the masses.
Metcalf has advocated 'a new non-military system of national service' should be established, 'enabling citizens to contribute their skills and energy to the sustainability and resilience of Australian society'. (8) There was little ambiguity in the type of organisation proposed by Metcalf, with the service being designed to 'take over civilian tasks that increasingly have been thrust on the Australian Defence Force'. (9)
The call from those associated with the Australian intelligence committee and their supposed national security strategy has also coincided with a massive surge in people stockpiling ammunition from gun shops. (10) It has revealed far more than meets the eye. Existing regulations in force to control the use of firearms in Australia have tended to produce a tightly-knit group of people who use gun-clubs to associate with like-minded people. Many of those involved are military-types, by experience or association.
They have become a major lobby within the corridors of power in Canberra, far more, it would appear, than many casual observers might have been led to believe.
Other spurious agendas pursued by the far right have been left unanswered although they are easy to establish from declassified documents and other information in the public domain. The idea of military involvement in civilian affairs, for example, has long been a taboo issue for the ADF. Civil affairs units, nevertheless, have a long history, with special responsibilities for control of population and provision for the effective use of para-military forces to enable the ADF to distance itself from more controversial operational matters and 'wet-jobs' and 'black-bag jobs', with the primary aim of strengthening class and state power. (11)
While the political chicanery of those concerned has invariably used levels of classification and screening to prevent public scrutiny, some of those who have walked inside the corridors of power, nevertheless, have later written about their experiences of the shadowy world of the organisational ear for discreet information, ten-minute briefings and parliamentary submissions.
One, award winning writer John Le Carre, as if confiding in those reading his novels, later commented that, 'he pulled out another file, marked TOP SECRET, GUARD, EYES ONLY, and gave it an affectionate pat on the flank … confession time, really, except we don't call it that. We always stretch habeas corpus … you have to bend the law from time to time, otherwise you don't get anywhere … no two bluffs are the same'. (12)
Bluffs, are perhaps, a hallmark of those lurking within the corridors of power and the patronage systems of which they form part. The Intelligence Committee in Canberra, is no exception. A seemingly civil body designed primarily for crisis management which they propose, for example, can easily be used for other nefarious ends with agendas easily switched at short notice.
It is also not difficult to identify the hidden hands of the puppet-masters: Australia is regarded as a strategic location for 'US interests', and Pentagon regional defence and security provision. Australia has been drawn ever closer to the US through military alliances. There is a long history of US covert involvement in Australian politics in order, primarily, to safeguard their sensitive intelligence facilities for regional operations. (13)
With the ADF being part of US-led military planning the recent moves in Canberra to consider the creation of a non-military system of national service can best be regarded as a sinister political manoeuvre. No reference, for example, has been given to which government department will actually control it, whether it will be publicly accountable, what specific uses and services it will provide and who will pay the wages and salaries.
Behind the plan for a new national security strategy being discussed at present in Canberra, therefore, lurk secondary agendas not openly discussed but seemingly acknowledged as part of the package. The people who sit around the committee tables of the Intelligence Committee are not stupid, although their agendas may be opaque and planned to serve more than one purpose with fall-back positions. The planned proposals for a non-military form of national service have been designed as a Third Force to raise economic rationalist philosophies to a higher level by increasing the powers of capital and their ability by a number of devious means and methods of operation to exploit labour.
With such planning taking place in Canberra we need to be prepared to fight for our rights and liberties.
Only socialism and an independent foreign policy will secure our success!
1. The sum of all threats, Australian, 3 April 2020.
2. Dawn of the International Socialist Revolution, Stefan Engel, (Essen, 2011), pp. 155-161; and, Global Governance Breakthrough: The G20 Summit and the Future Agenda, Brookings, 17 December 2008.
3. Canberra has room to spend, says OECD, Australian, 4 March 2020; and, Economy fragile but on rise before twin towers struck, Australian, 5 March 2020.
4. Census 2016, The Guardian (U.K.), 23 October 2017.
5. Australian, op.cit., 3 April 2020.
10. Surge in ammunition sales as shortages loom, Australian, 24 March 2020.
11. The Division in Battle, Organisation and Tactics, Canberra, 1965, pp. 50-51.
12. The Night Manager, John Le Carre, ( NSW, 1993), page 412.
13. The CIA's Australian Connection, Denis Freney, (Sydney, 1977).