China

Premier McGowan, Beijing’s Very Best China Plate

After a third case of community transmitted coronavirus was reported, the West Australian government imposed draconian new measures which command its citizens to stay at home . Premier Mark McGowan has decreed that this new lockdown “will be in place for four days at a minimum”.[1] As a consequence, people living in Perth and the Peel region are now forced to stay at home unless they require to shop for essentials, attend medical appointments, or to get vaccinated. They cannot even go to work unless the state authorities regard them as providing “essential” service.[2]

This is happening amidst growing evidence that lockdowns do not necessarily reduce the mortality. To the contrary, in a recent working paper published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, four renowned economists and scientists from the University of Southern California and the Rand Corporation concluded there is absolutely no relationship between lockdowns and COVID-19 cases and deaths.[3] “The evidence supporting [lockdowns] is shockingly weak, resting on little more than anecdote, faith and tendentious modelling”, co-author Neeraj Sood told The Australian.[4]

For the WA Labor government, of course, it does not really matter if, like communism, lockdowns may seem reasonable in theory but don’t work in practice. Curiously, a video has emerged from a meeting held in February 2020 by West Australian Premier McGowan and Chinese Communist Party officials attached to its consulate in Perth.  Also present are Tourism Minister Paul Papalia and Labor backbencher Pierre Yang MLC. In this video Premier McGowan and all present, in Chinese, exhort: “Go Wuhan! Go China! China First!” [5] Find that hard to believe? Just watch the video below.

The clip was shot not long after after a virus that appears to have been leaked from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan began wreaking havoc around the world, Australia included.

In a June 7 article in The Australian, Dr Steven Quay MD, who holds both a masters and a doctorate degree from the University of Michigan, and Richard Muller, an emeritus professor of physics at the University of California-Berkeley, informed that COVID-19 is a million-to-one proposition to have arisen naturally. Instead, they think it extremely likely the novel coronavirus was created in the CCP lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.[6]

Beijing should come clean about the origins of COVID-19. Instead, the Chinese government has recently hit Australia with a series of tariffs on goods ranging from crayfish to wine. “China is using economic coercion to bully and intimidate Australia”, argues French President Emmanuel Macron, who has described such tactics as a “blatant breach of international law and declared France stood with Australia”.[7]

The Australian Prime Minister has the moral duty to protect our sovereignty and future, and to ensure we don’t become a vassal state of that communist regime. But who would have thought the WA Premier would stand proudly with the Chinese regime? Instead of standing beside the federal government, McGowan has accused Scott Morrison of increasing trade tensions with China by refusing to bow to their pressure and intimidation.[8] In fact, the Premier has repeatedly stated that Australia needs to “work constructively” with Beijing. “We can have … a great friendship and trading relationship with China,” he told reporters.[9] “I know in some quarters it might be popular … to attack China because they do have a different system of government, a different way of doing things to us, but you’ve always got to think what the consequence might be,” McGowan said.[10]

Speaking at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in June, Premier McGowan told the 1700 delegates: “The federal talk of conflict, trade retaliation can and must stop.”[11] Premier McGowan also said comments in recent months from senior politicians and officials about a potential conflict with China were “off the planet”. He claims that Australia could still keep its values without coming to blows with China. “All this language I see coming out of the Commonwealth government about us going to war with China, I have never heard something so insane in my life,” he said.[12]

I don’t recall anyone in the Australian government talking directly about going to war with China.  Can the WA Premier direct me to when the Prime Minister has ever said or implied that we are going to war with China? In fact, Scott Morrison has insisted Australia has no desire for war with the Middle Kingdom. At the recent G-7 meeting of world leaders in London he insisted: “That is not an outcome that we would wish for in any circumstance”.[13]

The WA Premier has been tireless in warning the Australia government about “provoking” Beijing, and he has been doing it since May last year, even offering to help rebuild the relationship last December. Why, what’s his motivation? Maybe McGowan has some real sympathy for that communist regime, as is the case with his Victorian counterpart, Daniel Andrews, frequent visitor to Beijing and Belt & Road advocate.  I haven’t heard anything from McGowan about him denouncing the CCP’s atrocious handling of the coronavirus pandemic or the suppression of its own citizens’ right to free speech and other fundamental rights of the individual.  Above all, the Premier should stick to state issues and leave federal politics to those in charge. As noted by Greg Sheridan in The Australian: 

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan’s criticism of Morrison’s language on China is characteristically foolish and provincial.  McGowan serves Beijing’s interests by reinforcing the idea Beijing has the right to censor Australian speech. There was nothing in Morrison’s words which Beijing could reasonably find offensive, there was plenty it could unreasonably overreact to, which McGowan’s dopey reaction encourages.[14]

But who would have thought that an Australian Premier would be China’s poster boy, such a proud achievement for McGowan? Responding to a question by the CCP-controlled Beijing Daily, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has praised McGowan’s support for Chinese interests in the country. “The Australian government should heed these constructive opinions,” said Mr Zhao at a regular press conference in Beijing.[15]

As can be seen, Beijing thinks Australia should listen to McGowan and follow his lead.[16] It is certainly no compliment to be praised by a regime with blood on its hands and for which fundamental human rights are there to be violated. McGowan should know that any criticism he makes of the Australian government will now generate support from China. Communists describe people like him as “useful idiots”, as Lenin reputedly called them. The phrase is used to designate a person who can be manipulated to advance a foreign interest or political agenda.

It goes without saying that the WA Labor government has recently appointed two pro-Beijing community leaders to a paid advisory council before McGowan escalated his criticism of Australia’s handling of the China relationship.[17] Journalists Marta Pascual Juanola, Eryk Bagshaw and Hamish Hastie did our society an enormous favour by revealing these incestuous relations between the WA Labor Government and the Chinese Communist Party:

The WA government appointed two pro-Beijing community leaders to a new paid advisory council before Premier Mark McGowan escalated his criticism of the Morrison government’s handling of the China relationship …

 In February, his government has appointed Dr Edward Zhang and Dr Ting Chen, as the only two Chinese community representatives, to his 15-member… policy advisory board where members can earn up to $385 per day.

 Zhang … has condemned the [Australian] government’s position on the disputed South China Sea. ‘We overseas Chinese are the first line of defence for our motherland”, he said in 2016.

 Zhang is a founding member and honorary chairman of the WA branch of the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, a group tied to United Front. The United Front operates networks that mobilise support for the Chinese Communist Party.[18]

Another article from December 2019 reveals that shortly after taking office the WA Premier announced the state was giving around $200 million of WA taxpayers’ money to Huawei for a contract to build and maintain a mobile data network for Perth’s metropolitan railway system. Those in eastern states might not be aware of the much-vaunted Metronet, which is billed as a huge boon to the people of Perth but, after four years, has yet to see a single metre of laid track.[19]

Quite a few other examples could be given but all of this poses the question: Whose interests is the West Australian Premier putting first? 

Australia introduced the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS) in 2018, which aimed at providing the public with “visibility of the nature, level and extent of foreign influence on Australia’s government and politics”. This federal law was especially enacted to deter undue influences from China but without naming the country.

Has McGowan ever considered registering? Perhaps he should.

 

Dr Augusto Zimmermann is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education, and Professor of Law (Adjunct) at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus. He is also a former Law Reform Commissioner in Western Australia (2012-2017) and President of the Western Australian Legal Theory Association (WALTA).    

[1] Benjamin Gubana and Lana Taranto, ‘Perth and Peel Plunged Into Lockdown After Another Local Coronavirus Case Detected’, ABC News, June 21, 2021, at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-28/wa-coronavirus-perth-peel-hard-lockdown/100250920

[2] ‘4-Day Lockdown Introduced for Perth and Peel’, Western Australian Government, June 29, 2021, at https://www.wa.gov.au/government/announcements/4-day-lockdown-introduced-perth-and-peel

[3] Virat Agrawal, Jonathan H. Cantor, Neeraj Sood, Christopher M. Whaley, ‘The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Policy Responses on Excess Mortality’, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 28930, Cambridge/MA, June 2021, at https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28930/w28930.pdf

[4] Adam Creighton, ‘What If Lockdowns Don’t Save Lives?’, The Australian, June 29, at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/what-if-lockdowns-dont-save-lives/news-story/5a7b69881d3323d5edd51698270e2422

[5] Dight Canning, ‘The West is Red?’, The Spectator Australia, at https://www.spectator.com.au/2021/06/the-west-is-red/

[6] Steven Quay and Richard Muller, ‘The Science Suggests a Wuhan Lab Leak’, The Australian, 7 June 2021, at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/the-wall-street-journal/the-science-suggests-a-wuhan-lab-leak/news-story/07015d3c2a31e3c0f49c056c1c2f894d> See also: Tom Ozimek, ‘Experts Point to Damning Gene Splicing Evidence of Likely Lab Origina of CCP Virus’, The Epoch Times, 7 June 2021, at  https://www.theepochtimes.com/experts-point-to-damning-gene-splicing-evidence-of-likely-lab-origin-of-ccp-virus_3847591.html>

[7] Matt Coughlan, ‘I Don’t Want Cold War With China: Morrison’, The Canberra Times, June 17, 2021, at https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7301125/i-dont-want-cold-war-with-china-morrison/

[8] Perry Williams, ‘WA Premier Mark McGowan Continues Attack Over China Ties’, The Australian, June 15, 2021, at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/wa-premier-mark-mcgowan-continues-attack-over-china-ties/news-story/c11ad2e1f55fb648e16b71b0bb85cd0d

[9] Angie Raphael, ‘WA Premier says commonwealth must put effort into repairing China relationship’, The Australian, November 6, 2020, athttps://www.theaustralian.com.au/breaking-news/wa-premier-says-commonwealth-must-put-effort-into-repairing-china-relationship/news-story/0bc5a385c3004232ba6c1a84f5d7944b

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Paul Garvey, ‘Mark McGowan canes PM’s ‘mad’ rhetoric on China’, The Australian, June 10, 2021, at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/mark-mcgowan-canes-pms-mad-rhetoric-on-china/news-story/17eafec5a6b778d8d493d1208940c115

[13] Coughlan, above n.7.

[14] Greg Sheridan, ‘Pragmatic Scott Morrison right to champion G7 as a democratic bloc’, The Australian, June 10, 2021, at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/pragmatic-scott-morrison-right-to-champion-g7-as-a-democratic-bloc/news-story/a842b8576c079bf9c47f977a46119880

[15] Will Glasgow, ‘Beijing backs Mark McGowan’s ‘constructive’ criticism of Scott Morrison’, June 17, 2021, at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/beijing-backs-mark-mcgowans-constructive-criticism-of-scott-morrison/news-story/dac6ccf3fcf399dae37fa926c941af9a

[16] Lanai Scarr, ‘Beijing Says Morrison Should Follow McGowan’s Lead and Be Level-Headed About Australia-China Relationship’, The West Australian, June 17, 2021, at https://thewest.com.au/politics/policy/beijing-says-morrison-should-follow-mcgowans-lead-and-be-level-headed-about-australia-china-relationship-ng-b881903283z

[17] Marta Pascual Juanola, Eryk Bagshaw and Hamish Hastie, ‘The Chinese Community Group, the Consulate and the Labor Premier’, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 22, 2021, at https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/the-chinese-community-group-the-consulate-and-the-labor-premier-20210621-p582ra.html

[18] Ibid.

[19] Canning, above n.5.

10 comments
  • Rebekah Meredith

    THANK YOU, Mr. ZImmermann, for this piece. I understand that most Quadrant writers are Over East, but it is rather irritating to so seldom get a mention of our problems, here. Mr. McGowan is a tyrant; his words about China do, in a way, fit.
    However, though incredibly maddened by Chairman Mark’s actions and attitude (he must have one of the biggest heads in Australia), I try to be strictly fair in what I say about him. If I remember correctly, the McGowan government canceled the Huawei contract, of its own volition, because of security concerns. For all that the contract should never have been made in the first place, it is only right to give credit where it is due.
    Our cause is not served by giving selective information.

  • STD

    We really are idiots- outside the realm of good people, I’m talking about Christian Chinese. The rest are playing the white devil for mugs.
    Walked into a Chinese restaurant in Sydney’s China town outside of business hours- there was a bunch of Chinese sitting round doing what I presume was illegal gambling, their surprise at seeing me unannounced ,gave rise to a startled slip of the the folk tongue “Caucasian “.Australian thinking intelligent business and political elites are fools.
    Bartimaeus please intercede for us, before we go the way of the Dodo!
    Tom Switzer on ABC’s“ Between the Lines “ has an interesting 30 min interview on the 50th anniversary of Gough Whitlam’s delegation to China, and Henry Kissinger’s secret mission .

  • Ian MacKenzie

    It is important in both articles and comments here to draw a clear distinction between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chinese people. The CCP claims to represent all those of Chinese descent, but that it just another of its lies. There are more than 1 million Australians of Chinese ancestry, 5% of us in fact, the vast majority being loyal, hard working citizens and certainly not supporters of the genocidal CCP.

  • STD

    Yes ,the CCP is made up of people who are culturally speaking Chinese- hard to differentiate – just like Vietnam.
    And Ian this is a case where the CCP is not lying, they really mean it, when they say that they represent all Chinese – it’s an authoritarian regime, believe me they mean what they say, and they don’t suffer fools or dissent ,this is not a game this is serious, they mean business.
    This is China incorporated Ian, they have a plan.
    Chinese submarines have mapped the ocean floor off Western Australia, why, I tell you why, it’s because they have a planned agenda.
    PS, are Chinese culturally cohesive?

  • Harry Lee

    “Australia, Australia, I gave my best to you.”
    How many Australians could say that truthfully, as they lay dying?
    Answer:
    First, define Australia. Then, define Australians.
    Tricky eh, since approx 1972, and extra tricky since multiculturalism showed itself to be anti-Westernism.

  • lbloveday

    I don’t know whether McGowan is a “useful idiot”, but I’m pretty sure he’s an idiot.
    .
    He was widely reported as saying when admonishing Morrison “Last year we sold $100 billion worth of products to China, we bought $4 billion back, so we have a 96 billion dollar trade surplus”.
    .
    Who else believes that we bought just $4 billion from China last year? Maybe he was thinking of how much Bunnings imported?
    .
    To save looking it up: “Australia imports from China was US$61.05 Billion during 2020, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade”.
    .
    Out by a factor of 20!

  • Harry Lee

    It is clear, for those with eyes to see, that one of the two dominant factions of the ALP is working hard to turn Australia into a slave province -farm and quarry- of China.
    The other dominant faction of the ALP wants to turn Australia into a unit of a UN-style Global State.
    Either way, Australia will be flooded by persons of non-Western and anti-Westernist varieties.

  • Lonsdale

    Harry, please write an essay for Quadrant magazine.

  • Peter Marriott

    As I understand it from what I’ve read, Premier McGowan is only Premier compliments of the crazy move to the left by the W. Australian Liberals, who again as I read, were including in their election policies really idiotic things like ceasing all fossil fuel mining in the State. When you’ve got the supposed Conservative Party, in a primary producing and mining State like W. Australia, so far out of touch with the electorate and conservative philosophy that they are advocating what are extreme, destructive left Green policies like that, is it any wonder Labor got up. All I can say is the Libs there must have been infiltrated big time by the extreme left, so extreme in fact that it was even too much for a socialist party like Labor, and basically gifted them the State.

  • Harry Lee

    Lonsdale -thank you for your note of confidence and support. Perhaps that will happen at some point. Good to be on same team as you. All Best, Harry.

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