In one of the early seasons of The Simpsons, there is an episode ‘Lisa The Beauty Queen’ where Lisa is runner up for the Little Miss Springfield pageant and then becomes Little Miss Springfield after the winner gets struck by lightning. Lisa being Lisa, she is not content to be a figurehead for the powerful interests behind the pageant and quickly becomes outspoken on issues she feels strongly about, to the point where those vested interests come to see her as a major liability they need to depose.
Krusty the Clown, Big Tobacco, and the corrupt town fathers anxiously look for a way to remove their problem. The solution comes when they realise that Homer wrote something on the application form in a spot which he was not mean to write in. On that minor hitherto overlooked technicality, Lisa is stripped of the Little Miss Springfield title.
When I read some of the details as to why Communist China has just slapped an 80% tariff on Australian barley imports, I am reminded somewhat of Krusty the Clown and his corrupt henchmen in Springfield.
Apparently there has been issues in relation to our barley exports for about 18 months. That they now come to the boil just as Australia is leading calls for an enquiry into the origins of the Pandemic, an enquiry which Communist China was most hostile towards until the last possible moment, does not appear merely coincidental.
The allegation is that Australian barley is subsidised and that this makes the imposition of a high tariff justified. The main purported subsidy is some sort of social security payment to farmers. This is risable, and not even the barest of fig leaves to cover the naked intentions of the Communist regime’s desire to punish Australia for leading the calls for an International enquiry.
This of course, not the only threat to our trade. A couple of years ago, when Huawei was unsurprisingly bundled out of contention for our 5G network on national security grounds (you would need to be very naive to consider that a company based in a totalitarian regime was a safe bet to run a nationwide communications network), there were bans on coal imports from Australia (however, there are a lot of Australians, myself not exactly one of them, who would welcome an end to all Australian coal exports). And Canada, after it honoured an international arrest warrant on a Huawei executive, was also subject to retaliatory bans on their exports to Communist China.
Communist China is a rogue state, which is treated as a mainstream nation mainly for the sheer size of its economy, which countries and companies worldwide wish to trade with. The human rights abuses (think of the Uighurs for example), the thefts of intellectual property, the menacing behaviour in the South China Seas, these are all matters which are conveniently ignored.
However now, with the global economy under serious threat from a Pandemic which probably originated in a biowarfare lab in Wuhan (not, mind you, created there, simply a naturally occurring virus which was being studied under conditions of criminally negligent biosecurity), and people forced to bury their loved ones in conditions which are less than ideal, the degree of tolerance for a country which has so many inherent flaws in its political system is dropping fast.
When threats are not even thinly veiled, and followed by punitive measures whose stated and technical justification is highly unconvincing, it is time to wonder. The Communist Chinese ambassador recently said that perhaps Communist China might not now want to let its students come to Australia, or to buy our beef or wine.
I say OK. Let’s trade with the rest of the world instead. Whilst the opening up of trade with the PRC 30 years ago was done in the hope of both liberalising their economy and their political system, only one happened. For such a large part of the world’s people to still live under such capricious tyrants is a tragedy.
Our universities are turning into degree mills, rather than focusing on providing quality education to the Australian community. Wines popular in the export market are priced out of the reach of Australian drinkers. Houses in our major cities are being priced out of the reach of our community due to the flight of money from Communist China from those who get rich on that regime, but wisely do not trust it to allow them to keep their wealth or their lives. We should be finding a way to either trade our coal and iron ore to other nations, or to use them in our own neglected industries. We should be eating the best of our red meat here, not sending it there.
Who really needs to be Little Miss Springfield, or to trade with Communist China? Our leaders, both political and business, need to reflect on that.