Ex-Attorney General Warns Against Public Indifference Towards Global Conflict

Former Senator George Brandis and high commissioner to the UK said Western democracies looked to Australia to take a leading role in the Indo-Pacific.
Ex-Attorney General Warns Against Public Indifference Towards Global Conflict
Hon. George Brandis QC, former High Commissioner of Australia to the UK speaks during the boardroom lunch at Australia House in London, United Kingdom on Nov. 16, 2021. (Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Daniel Y. Teng

BRISBANE, Australia—Former federal Attorney-General George Brandis has warned there is too little debate about the possibility of conflict in the Indo-Pacific, as well as a dearth of “awareness and consciousness” about Australia’s global responsibilities.

“One of the things that has struck me very strongly is how few voices there are in the national security discussion in Australia. The debate about Australia’s position in the world, our position in the region, foreign policy, and strategic policy generally, is a debate that tends to go over the head of the general public,” he told an audience in Brisbane on June 12.

Mr. Brandis is now a professor at the Australian National University’s (ANU) National Security College in Canberra, and was a former senator, attorney-general, and high commissioner to the UK.

“Even within government and politics, there are relatively few voices. I can tell you from my 18 years of experience as a senator, most members of parliament never discuss or participate in debates about national security policy. It’s not a kitchen table issue,” he told the “Securing our Future” discussion hosted by the College.

He said in the country’s capital, the “national security community” was relatively small and featured few commentators and experts.

“Relative to other sophisticated democracies, it is proportionately very small,” he said.

The former Liberal Party senator said he had been in London and received briefings from the chief of the UK’s Armed Forces Tony Radakin who warned the world was in a “pre-war era.”

“The threats to peace from authoritarian states—most obviously manifested by [Russian leader] Vladimir Putin in Ukraine—are of an order of magnitude that we have not seen in our lifetimes, and the world has not seen since the end of the Second World War. So all of the European democracies are re-arming,” Mr. Brandis said.

“But the conversation in Australia is way behind the conversation in the other democracies. The level of complacency and insouciance in Australia, which is always a problem by the way, is more striking and more dangerous today than it has been in any of our lifetimes.”

Mr. Brandis was concerned about the “No Limits” partnership between Moscow and Beijing signed in 2022, saying it meant conflict in far-off Eastern Europe had ramifications locally.

“For us to think that we live in a sequestered part of the world that is not affected by those conflicts is, frankly, foolishness,” Mr. Brandis warned.

“And yet I think that is still a mindset, certainly of the public, and a lot of policymakers as well. When the Euro-Atlantic democracies look to the Indo-Pacific—the democratic part—they think first and foremost of Australia.

“They expect us as a G20 democracy—and don’t forget a lot of the G20 nations are not democracies—to be pulling our weight in global politics.”

CCP Leader Official Visit to Australia

The former attorney general’s comments come as Australian leaders received Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Premier Li Qiang.

Mr. Li visited Adelaide, Canberra, and Perth over the weekend, part of an ongoing “normalisation” of ties between Australia and China.

The visits to Adelaide, and Perth, in particular, are connected to China’s trade links with Australia’s wine and mining industries.

Yet Premier Li’s tour comes amid ongoing concerns of military expansionism in the South-West Pacific region, as well as new revelations of Beijing-linked espionage locally.

Chinese defector “Eric” recently revealed about 1,200 CCP-linked operatives were in Australia, including 200 professional spies, and 1,000 informants from the local Asian community.

He said Western governments were yet to truly understand the CCP and its motives, leading many to be lulled into a false sense of security.

“The CCP is essentially a fascist organisation, similar to the German Nazi Party, and both are totalitarian and fascist,” he told The Epoch Times last week.

“No matter who you are, as soon as you are considered a threat to the CCP, you are their enemy. Official or commoner, rich or poor, right or wrong; this is not important to them.”

He urged his former comrades to withdraw from the CCP saying it “cannot rule forever.”

Eric was speaking at a rally in Canberra aimed at drawing attention to the issue of forced organ harvesting conducted by CCP-linked entities.

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Brisbane, Australia. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected].
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