‘We Have Seen the Fading of Democracy Across the World’: Australian MP Warns

March 27, 2021 Updated: March 27, 2021

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce issued a warning in Parliament last week for Australia to rally its power in order to withstand what he lamented was the “fading of democracy” around the world.

“We have seen the rise of China and, unfortunately, it is run by a regime, not a democracy,” he said on Wednesday while debating the annual Appropriation Bill to fund government services.

“We have seen the fading of democracy across the world,” Joyce said. “We always believed that democracy would be the pre-eminent form of government and would grow into the future, but it has not. It is fading. And we are lucky and blessed that we live in a democracy.”

His remarks come a week after UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned that the combined GDP of autocratic regimes would exceed that of democratic countries within the decade—if left unchallenged by democratic allies.

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Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during House of Representatives Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia on Oct. 25, 2017. (Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Joyce warned that Australia may have to prepare itself for a world where the superpower in the region—China—was not a democracy, but a “unitary control.”

“It is almost a tyranny, a new lineage, which, as we’ve seen in how the Uyghur people have been dealt with, can be very belligerent,” he said.

The member for New England issued his warning in an attempt to bolster the Parliament to pursue a long term vision for the nation to grow.

“Our number one goal is not about climate change and our number one goal, to be frank, is not about COVID,” Joyce said. “Our number one goal in this nation is to make ourselves as powerful as possible, as strong as possible, as quickly as possible, because you’ve got no hope of managing the other two unless you do that first.”

Joyce advocated for the rebuilding of sovereign capabilities such as ambitious infrastructure projects and the manufacturing industry.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison inspects plans with Mark Chilcott of Energy Renaissance, and Industry Minister Karen Andrews during a recent visit to their site in Tomago, NSW, on March 4, 2021. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

“We don’t have a sovereign satellite capacity, even in our weather predictions. We use American satellites. We use three Chinese satellites. We borrow information from them. We use Indian, European, and Korean satellites. Australia does not have them,” he said.

If these services were switched off, Australia has no alternative, Joyce said.

The Australian and UK politicians’ sentiments come as Chinese leader Xi Jinping boasted of the Chinese Communist Party’s ascendency over democratic allies in a recent address to Party leadership.

“The strong West and weak East is history … the East is rising, and the West is declining,” Xi declared.

At a recent address to the Aspen Security Conference, Raab warned that democracy is in retreat in the world as tyrannical regimes accumulate more economic prowess than free countries.

But he said that the UK’s democratic allies could galvanise their will and take back control to shape a better path forward.

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Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks at the Aspen Security Conference on March 17, 2021. (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office)

Raab warned that the combined GDP of autocratic regimes is expected to exceed that of the world’s democracies within this decade.

“Just take a second to think about what that means,” he told attendees.

“Tyranny is richer than freedom. And that matters to us here at home because we know stable, freedom-respecting, democracies are much less likely to go to war, to house terrorists, or to trigger large-scale flows of immigration,” he said.

But he said that the future “bends towards freedom,” and he asserted that the rise of tyranny doesn’t have to be an “inevitability.” Nor was it the “end of history,” he said. Instead, Raab urged democratic allies to work together.

“If we summon the will, and if we galvanise those countries that share our core conviction, together we can and we must, wrest control of history once again and shape a better path ahead,” he said.

“And I believe Britain has a central, driving, role to play in all of this,” he added.