Shocking Truth About Australia's Aid to Pacific
By Agence France-Presse
China lodged a proper diplomatic protest on Wednesday after a senior Australian minister referred to as Chinese infrastructure tasks within the Pacific “white elephants”, the newest spat in more and more contentious relations.
Friction between the 2 international locations grew final month after Australia singled out China as a spotlight of concern when it proposed legal guidelines on international interference, drawing a livid response from Beijing.
China has been forging nearer hyperlinks with Pacific island nations, with Australia’s Lowy Institute estimating it supplied US$1.78 billion in assist, together with concessional loans, for tasks within the area between 2006-16.
Australian International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells mentioned Beijing’s affect within the area was “clearly growing”, however criticised its growth help as leading to “white elephants”.
“You’ve got the Pacific full of these useless buildings which nobody maintains, which are basically white elephants,” she advised The Australian newspaper.
Chinese international ministry spokesman Lu Kang slammed the remarks throughout an everyday press briefing, calling them “full of ignorance and prejudice”.
“They are also irresponsible, and we have already made representations to the Australian government,” he mentioned, including that Fierravanti-Wells ought to “engage in self-reflection”.
Fierravanti-Wells mentioned in her 24 journeys to the Pacific as a part of her worldwide growth portfolio, she had come throughout “nonproductive infrastructure” that was not usually maintained and never used to full capability.
“I’ve gone to (the Pacific) islands and you’ll be driving along on some back road and all of a sudden you see this Chinese road crew building a road to nowhere and you think ‘hmm, what’s all that about’,” she added.
The minister additionally warned that not like loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, Chinese financing had lower than beneficial phrases.
“We don’t know what the consequences are when (Pacific nations) have to pay back some of these Chinese loans,” she mentioned.
Lu mentioned China “fully respects the will of the Pacific islands’ governments and their people”.
China’s growth assist “has brought real benefits to local people,” he added, saying that they’ve been “welcomed by the concerned countries’ governments”.
China has diplomatic relationships with eight Pacific island nations — the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Six different Pacific international locations recognise self-ruled Taiwan, which China sees as a part of its territory.
The largest quantity of assist over 2006-16 — US$632.46 million — went to PNG, the Lowy Institute mentioned. (AFP)
These disparaging and racist remarks made by Minister Avanti-Wells have no place in the Pacific. As a native of the Pacific, I would like to invite other Pacific Islanders, especially those from the Pacific Nations which Minister Avanti-Wells insulted, to stand in solidarity with China in condemning these types of remarks which add nothing positive to the amazing progress achieved through the cooperative friendship between the people of the Pacific and China.
edited January 16
I think one of the "White Elephants" infrastructure projects in the Pacific which Minister Avanti-Wells may have been referring to is this one:
Cross-posted from The Conversation:
Why, if Adani’s gigantic Carmichael coal project is so on-the-nose for the banks and so environmentally destructive, are the federal and Queensland governments so avid in their support of it?
Once again the absurdity of building the world’s biggest new thermal coal mine was put in stark relief on Monday evening via an ABC Four Corners investigation, Digging into Adani.
Where the ABC broke new ground was in exposing the sheer breadth of corruption by this Indian energy conglomerate. And its power too. The TV crew was detained and questioned in an Indian hotel for five hours by police.
It has long been the subject of high controversy that the Australian government, via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)that is still contemplating a A$1 billion subsidy for Adani’s rail line, a proposal to freight the coal from the Galilee Basin to Adani’s port at Abbot Point on the Great Barrier Reef.
But more alarming still, and Four Corners touched on this, is that the federal government is also considering using taxpayer money to finance the mine itself, not just the railway.
No investors in sight
As private banks have walked away from the project, the only way Carmichael can get finance is with the government providing guarantees to a private banking syndicate, effectively putting taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in project finance.
The prospect is met with the same incredulity in India as it is here in Australia:
FOUR CORNERS: “Watching on from Delhi, India’s former Environment Minister can’t believe what he is seeing.”
JAIRAM RAMESH: “Ultimately, it’s the sovereign decision of the Australian Government, the federal government and the state government.
FOUR CORNERS: “But public money is involved, and more than public money, natural resources are involved.
JAIRAM RAMESH: “I’m very, very surprised that the Australian government, uh, for whatever reason, uh, has uh, seen it fit, uh, to all along handhold Mr Adani.”
Here we have a project that does not stack up financially, and whose profits – should it make any – are destined for tax haven entities controlled privately by Adani family interests. Yet the Queensland government has shocked local farmers and environmentalists by gifting Adani extremely generous water rights, and royalties concessions to boot.
Why are Australian governments still in support?
The most plausible explanation is simply politics and political donations. There is no real-time disclosure of donations and it is relatively easy to disguise them, as there is no disclosure of the financial accounts of state and federal political parties either. Payments can be routed through opaque foundations, the various state organisations, and other vehicles.
Many Adani observers believe there must be money involved, so strident is the support for so unfeasible a project. The rich track record of Adani bribing officials in India, as detailed by Four Corners, certainly points that way. But there is little evidence of it.
In the absence of proof of any significant financial incentives however, the most compelling explanation is that neither of the major parties is prepared to be “wedged” on jobs, accused of being anti-business or anti-Queensand.
There are votes in Queensland’s north at stake. Furthermore, the fingerprints of Adani’s lobbyists are everywhere.
Adani lobbyist and Bill Shorten’s former chief of staff Cameron Milner helped run the re-election campaign of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. This support, according to The Australian, has been given free of charge:
Mr Milner is volunteering with the ALP while keeping his day job as director and registered lobbyist at Next Level Strategic Services, which counts among its clients Indian miner Adani…
The former ALP state secretary held meetings in April and May with Ms Palaszczuk and her chief of staff David Barbagallo to negotiate a government royalties deal for Adani, after a cabinet factional revolt threatened the state’s largest mining project.
Adani therefore enjoys support and influence on both sides of politics. “Next Level Strategic Services co-director David Moore — an LNP stalwart who was Mr Newman’s chief of staff during his successful 2012 election campaign — is also expected to volunteer with the LNP campaign.”
So it is that Premier Palaszczuk persists with discredited claims that Carmichael will produce 10,000 jobs when Adani itself conceded in a court case two years ago the real jobs number would be but a fraction of that.
If the economics don’t stack up, why is Adani still pursuing the project?
The Adani group totes an enormous debt load, the seaborne thermal coal market is in structural decline as new solar capacity is now cheaper to build than new coal-fired power plants and the the government of India is committed to phasing out coal imports in the next three years.
Why flood the market with 60 million tonnes a year in new supply and further depress the price of one of this country’s key export commodities?
The answer to this question lies in the byzantine structure of the Adani companies themselves. Adani already owns the terminal at Abbot Point and it needs throughput to make it financially viable.
Both the financial structures behind the port and the proposed railway are ultimately controlled in tax havens: the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Singapore. Even if Adani Mining and its related Indian entities upstream, Adani Enterprises and Adani Power, lose money on Carmichael, the Adani family would still benefit.
Read more: Australia’s $1 billion loan to Adani is ripe for High Court challenge
The port and rail facilities merely “clip the ticket” on the volume of coal which goes through them. The Adani family then still profits from the privately-controlled infrastructure, via tax havens, while shareholders on the Indian share market shoulder the likely losses from the project.
As the man who used to be India’s most powerful energy bureaucrat, E.A.S. Sharma, told the ABC: “My assessment is that by the time the Adani coal leaves the Australian coast the cost of it will be roughly about A$90 per tonne.
“We cannot afford that, it is so expensive.”
More questions than answers remain
This renders the whole project even more bizarre. Why would the government put Australian taxpayers on the hook for a project likely to lose billions of dollars when the only clear beneficiaries are the family of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and his Caribbean tax havens.
My view is that this project is a white elephant and will not proceed. Given the commitment by our elected leaders however, it may be that some huge holes in the earth may still be dug before it falls apart.
Article by Michael West, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney
What racist remarks did she made?
Racist in nature.
And so far here in Chuuk, we've have yet to see anything funded by Australia aid which is taller than a banana tree or an elephant.
Can you quote the racist remark?
edited January 16
So the alternative is China? The PRC? Chuuk needs to be accountable first for mismanagement of its share of FSM fund before it complaints about not getting aids from Australia.
I do agree with China's Minister that Australia's Minister for Aid to the Pacific should "engage in self-reflection".
Again, up to now, we in Chuuk have yet to see anything here that is funded by Australian aid which is taller than a banana tree or an elephant.
As for any mismanagement of FSM funds here in Chuuk, I have no comment to provide on that as I am not aware of anything of that sort going on down there.
Again where are these racist comments sir?
Australia aid to FSM
If you are not aware of the "mismanaged" funds then you are either blind or willfully ignoring it but since took part in some of the discussions in this forum about chuuks state corruptions it means you know and are aware of these things that you deny.
Thoughts: Yes, Chuuk State has been part of the federation. Yet, Chuuk’s political leaders have squandered all the knowledge, goodwill, and funding allocated to build up Chuuk. Chuuk State received the most money from the federation and Compact funding, yet it is the worst in the federation in terms of progress.
edited January 18
Coconuts, for what it's worth, here in Pohnpei the Governor's office's elevator broke before the ribbon cutting. Exclusively Chinese materials and Chinese labor built the thing, and since they ate their own food, the project had approximately no effect on the local economy. Or, in the Capital Complex in Palikir, the house built for the Vice President is presently being used as the National Department of Education's office. It's probably better to have the buildings exist than to not have them exist, but they're a decent example of what the Australian minister is referring to. There isn't always a local partnership. There isn't always local buy-in.
China, just like Australia or Japan or the United States, is primarily guided by self-interest before anything else. A distinction between China's self-interest and Australia's self-interest is that the former is largely trying to improve its economic control over others, and part of how they do that is through their foreign aid being necessarily unsustainable for local developers. Because it's not about us: it's about them. Japan says, "Hey Nett School, we'll get you a gym, but you're going to build it using local materials and local contractors", so China's ambassador says "Hey Nett School, here's $1,000." China wants the good feelings, the power, the influence, but would rather its own citizens get the job using their own materials, and if that's not possible then we'll give some gifts. Why help Pohnpeians build the Pohnpei Governor's office when Chinese citizens can benefit from it? After all, Pohnpei still gets the building--it's not
, it's definitely something, but the entire process is vastly different from OECD countries.
Australia, by contrast--and again, they're self-interested too--Australia wants to
build your Governor's office, instead of building it for you, so your capacity is built and you demonstrate a commitment to your declared interests and goals. Australia is more concerned with the Pacific being stable. A healthy and vibrant Pacific helps keep Australia safe, and to be healthy and vibrant in their context means for local projects to be sustainable. So, y'know, Upward Bound says "Hey Australia, we have a new computer lab but no chairs." Australian Embassy gives'em chairs. Pohnpei Library says "Hey Australia, we have plans to get a playground, we got local support from our patrons, Mahi International is getting the thing, Matson can ship--but we can't pay all the bills for it, we just don't got the cash." Australian Embassy helps out with the final bits. It's a local project, with local support, sustained with local interests. Australia is a partner, instead of a benefactor.
I'm not suggesting either approach is better or worse, or that one is "bad" or another is "good"--but they are different approaches that serve the countries' different self-interests. Australia sees China building your office as hurting you in the long run to help you in the short run, because if you get reliant on external aid then how will you be stable and healthy? If you're not stable and healthy, that jeopardizes Australia's safety--not what they want to see at all. China sees building your office as a way to help its citizens whilst getting your support.
I find it interesting that PRC is the type of government coconut wants for Chuuk. No one can predict the future and its up to chuukese themself to decide between democracy or communism.
Fact #1 - Chinese Aid to the Pacific has now surpassed Australian aid many times over.
Fact #2 - Chinese Aid to the Pacific does not come with many strings attached like both Australian aid and the US aid.
Fact #3 - Chinese Aid to the Pacific has done more good than harm for the Pacific.
Fact #4 - We have not seen anything funded by Australian aid here in Chuuk which could compare to our new Chuuk State Government buildings which are almost completed.
Fact #5 - China does not provide military aid to repressive governments here in the Pacific.
Fact #6 - Australian special forces are embedded with Indonesian army guarding mines in West Papua New Guinea.
Fact #7 - Australian army provides training to Indonesian military intelligence units who regularly destroy churches, burn down villages, and murder innocent civilians in West Papua New Guinea.