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There are regular bombshell announcements, bizarre happenings, constraints on previously taken-for-granted freedoms, and hard to fathom widespread adulation of highly flawed overseas political leaders.
Yet there is still capacity for the odd bolt from the blue. And that came this week, with the pronouncement of a new global security alliance between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, rolled out on Thursday with the uncatchy title of AUKUS.
The AUKUS door appears to have been firmly shut against New Zealand. While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says we actually opted out of the grouping, she made it clear the Government believes we remain an important part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
Canada is the other country in Five Eyes which has also not made it into AUKUS.
It might initially feel worrying that we have been left out of this by some of our closest friends and allies. But when you take a few steps back and look again at this new grouping, and what it might be aiming to achieve, it may be no bad thing not to be involved.
For at its heart, at least in the initial stages, lies one of this country’s greatest anathemas — nuclear-powered vessels.
AUKUS involves the US and UK supplying Australia with the knowledge and technology to be able to build its own fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. That will make Australia just the seventh country in the world to have them, along with those two AUKUS partners, and China, India, Russia and France.
Former Labour prime ministers Norman Kirk and David Lange, and generations of peace and nuclear-free advocates, will be spinning in their graves at the thought of nuclear subs just across the Tasman Sea.
Of course for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison this is a huge moment, one that he and his ilk will see as confirmation of Australia’s importance on the world stage.
They will feel they have joined the ‘‘big boys’’ in the geopolitical playground. Even the mortifying moment when US President Joe Biden appeared to forget Mr Morrison’s name and referred to him as ‘‘that fellow from down under’’ will have been taken on the chin, just as any juniormost new member of the top group would have to laugh it off to save face.
But AUKUS goes further than just the adoption of nuclear technology by our closest ally and neighbour. It redraws the geopolitical map of the broader Pacific region and has already raised concerns, including from international affairs specialist Prof Robert Patman at the University of Otago. He says the new alliance may be viewed by some as an unwelcome intrusion by the West’s military powers and as a challenge to nuclear non-proliferation.
For New Zealand, it is upsetting to think of nuclear subs operating off our coastline.
The submarines will not be welcome here, of course, and rightly so.
One positive may be that, after having to put up with Australia deporting back here criminals who are barely Kiwis, we may finally be able to send something back in their direction.