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Ex-Australian prime minister blasts Albanese’s government for AUKUS deal

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating slammed Anthony Albanese’s government on Wednesday for a tripartite deal with the US and UK to build a nuclear submarine, calling it the Labor party’s worst international decision.

“Every Labor Party branch member will wince when they realize that the party we all fight for is returning to our former colonial master, Britain, to find our security in Asia – two hundred and thirty-six years after Europeans first grabbed the continent from its Indigenous people,” Keating said at the National Press Club in Canberra, a transcript of which he posted on his website.

On Monday, Australia announced its deal to buy at least three conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines under a trilateral security partnership with the US and UK, and the nations will work in tandem to develop a new “cutting edge” submarine.

The sale of the three Virginia-class submarines from the US will be subject to congressional approval, and Australia will be given the option of buying two more “if needed,” US President Joe Biden, Australian Premier Albanese, and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak said in a joint statement.

On Sept. 15, 2021, the nations announced the formation of AUKUS, a trilateral security treaty for the Indo-Pacific region. It is primarily intended for China, which is becoming more assertive in the region.

Keating, who served as premier from 1991 to 1996, has been critical of the AUKUS deal since former Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced AUKUS and canceled its Future Submarine Program with France’s Naval Group to purchase 12 submarines worth €56 billion (approximately $57.2 billion).

He claimed the approach behind the AUKUS deal was to have the US supply nuclear submarines for deep and joint operations against China.

The Albanese government’s complicity in a tripartite build of a nuclear submarine for Australia under the AUKUS arrangements represents the worst international decision by an Australian Labor Party government since its former leader, Billy Hughes, sought to introduce conscription to augment Australian forces in WWI, Keating said, accusing his own party government of blindly following the previous Morrison policy.

“The US would remain in the so-called AUKUS, not because it was building submarines for Australia but because it would forever own the nuclear propulsion technology and the fire control systems of any built elsewhere,” he said.

There were three people at the show in San Diego, California, where the deal was signed, but he said, “only one payer.”

“The US President and the UK Prime Minister could barely conceal their joy with A$368 billion heading the way to their defense companies – in the UK, BAE Systems, in the US its east coast submarine shipyards. No wonder they were smiling, and the band was playing,” he added.

“You may stay out of trouble, but you are compromised. Self-compromised,” he warned

He said the US wants to contain China militarily and economically, but “China is a world trading state – it is not about upending the international system.”

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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