Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Will Australia Defend Taiwan?

Greetings from the ANU Australian Centre on China in the World, where Iain Henry from the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre is speaking on "ANZUS and Taiwan: What are Australia’s obligations?". He went back to the formation of the ANZUS pact, arguing neither Australia or New Zealand wanted to defend Taiwan. The USA argued that an attack on their forces in Japan obliged Australia and NZ to act, but Taiwan was not mentioned.

While an interesting academic argument, I am not sure that the wording of the ANZUS treaty would have much to do with what Australia would do. The only time the treaty has been invoked was by Australia on 14 September 2001, after terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. This was an attack by a non state actor, based outside the Pacific, on the US Atlantic seaboard. If Australia would act similarly over Taiwan would perhaps depend more on the likely reaction of Australian popular opinion, than the wording of the treaty.  

On 24 April Australian PM, Scott Morrison said a Chinese military base at the  Solomon Islands would be a "red line": saying "We won't be having Chinese military naval bases in our region on our doorstep." This is a very serious statement, given the last time a regional power attempted to establish a base around the Solomon Islands was May 1942, resulting in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The USA and Australia met the Japanese Navy, with 13 ships sunk, and more than 1,500 lives lost.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Canberra World Center

The Canberra Innovation Network and ActewAGL are running a competition for ideas for a Canberra of the future. So I submitted "Canberra World Center".

My "Canberra 2020: World Information Capital" is from a previous ACT Government future history project in 1993. In this I envisioned Canberra replacing New York as the headquarters of the UN. That didn't happen, but is something I envisioned in 1998 did happen, with CBRIN being set up.

Canberra World Center

Combine a new sustainable fast built conference center, with facilities for dozens of universities to provide blended learning.

Canberra needs a new conference center, but such buildings stand empty much of the year. Canberra is a center for learning, but COVID-19 has shown how we need more flexibility in where and how we learn. These needs can be answered with a combined conference center and multi-institution vocational and university campus. This facility will have large multi-purpose halls, which can be used for conferences and courses. 

Dozens of educational institutions will be permanently based at the center, sharing the facilities, and bring vibrancy, and cash-flow(1). Some students will be full time on campus, but many will come for a week or two per year, staying in the conference accommodation, between events. 

The conference center will be rapidly constructed using the latest in prefabricated sustainable materials (2). The center's roof can be covered with solar panels, making it capable of operating independently of the grid, and offering an emergency center in times of crisis.

The Adaptive City needs to re-imagine Canberra for living and learning in 2040. Canberra needs to operate how it plans. It needs a place, an idea for  business innovation, sustainability, to create, connect, and thrive.


1. SA Government's Torrens Building accommodates multiple universities:

2. The  ANU Marie Reay Teaching Centre, is build from pre-assembled wood panels.

Who will benifit?

People wanting to host, or attend, major national conferences will benifit from the facilities, as will universities and their students.

What is the problem?

Canberra lacks an up to date conference center, and somewhere for nimble post-COVID educational institutions.

How will it make Canberra Better?

A conference center will attract events, and visitors to the city. An education center will attract academics, support staff to live in Canberra, and students to come to study.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Strategic Drone Material Stockpile for Australia

The Australian Government has been investing in billions in big weapons systems. But the Ukraine conflict has demonstrated the value of small smart systems. Perhaps there could be government funding to provide an Australian stockpile of carbon fiber, & other materials needed for airborne & underwater drones.

Companies such as Carbonix could buy from the stockpile at a discounted price, to keep the stocks fresh. In time of need, the government would order military drones made using the materials.

The avionics could be made just-in-time by companies like Core Electronics, from a stockpile of components.

This way the military could have a supply of up to date drones, suited to whatever situation arises.

The same could be done for underwater drones (UUVs). Imagine the number of small robot submarines which could have been built with the
$5B Australia is paying for French non-nuclear, non-submarines
. ;-)