I’m not sure we should be worried that we’ve been left out of this new Australia-UK-US defence pact.
I see that we’re already doing the thing we always do, which is to turn this into a story about ourselves and about how we’ve been "left out" and "sidelined."
But I’m not sure that is the right way to frame this.
How could we possibly be part of this?
This is a defence pact clearly targeting China but we don’t want to target China. China is our biggest trading partner. We’ve repeatedly made this position clear to our traditional friends and allies.
Then there’s the issue of the nuclear-powered submarines.
We don’t do nuclear-powered. Now, that's a ridiculous, old-fashioned hangover from the 80s on our part. But regardless we could hardly expect or be expected to join a group focused on getting nuclear power subs into Australian hands.
This is not about us. This is about these three scoring political goals that have got nothing to do with us: Boris in the UK wanting to show that he’s got heaps of mates after Brexit and he doesn’t need Europe, Biden in the US wanting to show that he can score foreign policy wins after the shambles he created in Afghanistan, and most importantly of all Australia wanting to play with the big boys.
We need to get used to that. This is the new Australia. They are becoming a regional power, they’re going hard on China, they’re the big brother wanting to hang out with their peers.
We haven’t changed much in recent years: still trying to be friends with the West and China at the same time. It’s Australia that has changed.
Do we want to join them in this? I can’t say that I do.
And so, I don't think we need to stress about being “sidelined” because we’re not the ones diverging from Australia. They’re the ones diverging from us.