Letters to the Editor

There are important lessons here for New Zealand and now, with National and ACT in the driving seat, maybe we’ll juice up our defence spending? Is there an appetite for that? Let me know in the comments.

Green, powerless, defenceless

31st October, 2023

by Viv Forbes with help from friends
Washpool, Qld 4306, Australia

As net zero strangles Australian industry, Australia is becoming green, powerless and defenceless.

History holds lessons that we ignore at our peril. Japan was opened to trade with the US in the 1850s. They were daunted by the naval power of Britain and the US but were determined to catch up.

In the 1930s Japan attacked China, Mussolini attacked Ethiopia and Hitler planned how to avenge WW1 in Europe. Britain’s PM Chamberlain negotiated with Hitler and proclaimed he had achieved “Peace in our Time”.

But Churchill warned:

Britain must arm. America must arm. We will surely do it in the end but how
much greater the cost for each day’s delay.

In November 1938, just after the signing of the Munich Pact, John Curtin (Leader of the Labor Party in the Australian Parliament), said:

. . I say that any increase in defence expenditure appears to be an entirely unjustifiable and hysterical piece of panic propaganda.
Hansard, p 1095, Nov 2, 1938.

Just ten months later, in September 1939, Germany attacked Poland.

On this side of the world, the Japanese built a large navy and air force. However, the Americans, British and Dutch controlled Asian oil supplies needed for trucks, tanks, ships and planes. With Britain preoccupied with Germany and Italy in Europe, Japan decided on a huge grab for land and resources.

In 1931 Japan occupied Manchuria and by 1937 Japanese troops were attacking Chinese soldiers outside Beijing. Japan invaded French Indochina in 1940 and a large Japanese force threatened the Philippines where US General Douglas MacArthur was based.

On Monday 8 December 1941, Australian PM Curtin was told that Japanese aircraft had attacked the large US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour and US bases in the Philippines.

Three days later, two “invincible” British warships, “Repulse” and “Prince of Wales” were sunk by Japanese planes off Malaya. Soon Japanese armies were rampaging through Asia towards Australia. In December 1941 Hong Kong fell. By Feb 1942, the British fortress of Singapore surrendered and Japanese bombs were falling on Darwin. By Sept 1942 the Japanese army had slashed their way down the Kokoda Track across Papua New Guinea. They could see the lights of Port Moresby and were looking across Torres Strait to Australia.

Further south, five Japanese submarines were snooping in the seas off Sydney Harbour. Two midget submarines entered the harbour and one sub sank HMAS Kuttabul. The Japanese navy later bombarded Sydney and Newcastle.

By that time, most of Australia’s trained soldiers were fighting Rommel at Tobruk in North Africa or were in Japanese prison camps. Australian politicians discussed the infamous “Brisbane Line” – a supposed surrender of Australia north of Brisbane.

Suddenly Australia was on its own and needed to defend itself with what we had here. Armies need manpower, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, tanks, planes, ships, fuel and lubricants.

Soldiers volunteered and others were conscripted. Australian conscripts formed part of the force that met the Japanese on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

Britain lost so many weapons at Dunkirk that Australian factories and American sportsmen were sending guns to them. Enfield Rifles, Bren Guns and Vickers Machine Guns were produced in large numbers at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow in NSW supported by feeder factories in the area. Australians even designed and built the fabulous Owen Machine Gun, so loved by our young Nashos in the 1960s.

Australian coking coal was used to produce steel and thermal coal provided reliable electricity and powered locomotives. However, coal production was often interrupted by bitter strikes in the early war years. But after Hitler invaded Soviet Russia in June 1941, the communists among the coal miners suddenly became more supportive of the war effort.

Motor oil was produced in limited quantities from oil shale at Glen Davis in central NSW, but petrol was in seriously short supply, and had been rationed since 1940.

Petrol Ration Card

With the fall of Singapore, the fuel shortage became severe, and charcoal burners suddenly appeared to keep cars and trucks moving. The demand for charcoal was so great that firewood became scarce so it was also rationed. Kerosene was scarce so carbide lights were recovered from junk sheds and widely used.

To conserve supplies for soldiers, rationing was also introduced for tea, clothing, butter, sugar, meat and cigarettes. Australian farmers were forbidden to kill their own animals for meat (but many of them did anyhow).

Australian school kids got cards to be used to identify enemy planes overhead and fathers with picks and shovels were told to dig air raid pits in school grounds (even then I thought that our one-room Wheatvale school with 13 pupils was probably not a top priority target for Japanese bombers).

We saw no enemy planes at Wheatvale but a bomber from our side was forced to land in our neighbour’s wheat paddock and a big convoy of American Jeeps and trucks stopped at our farm to make their morning coffee (we tasted coffee for the first time).

A critical war time shortage was copper for cartridge cases and communications — Australia had mines producing lead, zinc, silver, gold and iron, but there was a critical shortage of copper.

Fortuitously, just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, an exploration drill hole at Mount Isa had struck rich copper ore.

Mount Isa was then called on to avert a calamitous shortage of copper in Australia. With government encouragement, Mount Isa Mines made the brave decision to suspend their profitable silver, lead and zinc operations to convert all mining and treatment facilities to extracting copper.

The lead concentrator could be converted to treat copper ore, but the biggest problem was how to smelt the copper concentrates. Luckily the company had skilled engineers and metallurgists in the lead smelter. In a miracle of improvisation, scrap steel and spare parts were purchased and scavenged from old mines and smelters from Cloncurry, Mt Elliott, Mt Cuthbert and Kuridala and cobbled into a workable copper smelter. In 1943 the first Mount Isa blister copper was produced. Production continued after the war when Mount Isa returned to extracting the then more profitable silver, lead and zinc. Later, new plant was built enabling both lead and copper to be produced from this fabulous mine.

This story of the importance of self-reliance has lessons for today, especially since the final closure of the great Mt Isa copper mines has just been announced. The war on carbon energy, net zero propaganda, the renewable energy targets, escalating electricity costs and the voices in Parliament calling for Emissions Trading Schemes have all unnerved our big users of carbon fuels and electricity.

Smelting and refining have become threatened industries in Australia. Already six major metal smelting and refining operations have closed in Australia this century and more closures are likely. The closures have affected copper, lead, zinc, steel and aluminium — the sinews of modern industry. Car manufacturing, with all its skills and tools, has gone.

Local production and refining of oil is also declining, while “lock-the-gate” picketers are trying to prevent domestic exploration and production of gas. More and more land and offshore waters are closed to exploration and mining, and heavy industry is scorned.

Australia has lost over half of its oil refining capacity and most of our liquid fuel comes from foreign refineries. At normal rates of usage, national reserves of diesel would last about three weeks and ULP about four weeks. But in the event of a panic for fuel, city food shelves and fuel supplies would be cleaned out in days, maybe hours. Commercial aircraft would be grounded in a fortnight and our Air Force soon after.

We are losing the resources, skills and machinery needed for our own security. And we fritter our declining resources on green energy white elephants like Snowy 2, green hydrogen, dream-time extension cables to transmit “green” electricity from Darwin to Singapore, hydrogen electrolyser magic in Gladstone, a Pioneer Valley pumped hydro scheme (Snowy 3?), massive new power lines to collect piddling energy everywhere and many other green dreams with net consumption of energy and metals.

Green Admirals hope to run our destroyers on recycled cooking oil and Green Generals are wasting energy designing electric bushmasters (with long extension cords?). These foolish green energy policies and the suicidal war on carbon fuels are killing real industry leaving us unskilled and defenceless – like a fat toothless walrus basking on a warm sunny beach.

Imagine the mental and physical capacity of the flabby WOKE recruits that an urgent conscription would produce today. And which toilet would they use? Hopefully a few bikie gangs would sign up? At least they know how to fight and could bring their own guns.

Here’s our pictorial comment on the subject by Steve Hunter. Feel free to publish or pass around (just don’t alter it). Wrong to fight

Australia plans to spend heaps of money and decades of time on AUKUS nuclear submarine dreams – another Snowy 2? Imagine the chance of getting our no-nukes mobs to build a nuclear-powered submarine in Australia that works and is launched before the barbarians are again knocking at our gate. Alexander Downer describes it as “A political fantasy.”

Another Asian tiger in Beijing is currently gazing south at the resources locked up in Red-Black-Green Australia. Its advance guards are already installed in academia and the media.

The next war may be very short with simultaneous attacks on US military installations from South Korea and Guam to Pine Gap. And imagine when our power, radar, internet, social media and electric engines are suddenly disabled with an EMP from a well-placed neutron bomb. Then the tankers carrying our fuel supplies from Asian refineries meet a guided torpedo or an armed drone.

Our rainbow warriors with ill-chosen air and naval equipment, insufficient ammunition, rationed fuel and lubricants and half-built nuclear submarines will surrender quickly.

Wake up Australia.

Viv Forbes,
Washpool Qld Australia 4360.
forbes@saltbushclub.com


Viv Forbes is old enough to remember the end of WW2, was called up for National Service training in 1958 and also spent several years as a part-time soldier in Australia’s Citizen Military Forces. He was the founding Secretary of the Australia Defence Association in 1980.

For those who would like to read more

“Mines in the Spinifex – the Story of Mount Isa Mines” by Geoffrey Blainey, Angus and Robertson, 1960

“The Challenge of Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” by Collin Myers, Congress of the International Mining History Association, Charters Towers, 2014

Living in the Latter Days
Playing Green War Games
Electric Bushmaster could secure the combat vehicle’s future in Bendigo and lock in local jobs

“Hidden Hand” – how the Communist Party is reshaping the World, by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg

“Danger on our Doorstep” by ex Major-General and Senator Jim Molan.

Warning: Some of the above sites may contain war-related material, including images which some of today’s wimps may find confronting and disturbing.

 

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