LETTERS News Weekly
, September 3, 2011
Submarines: a response to Ken Aldred
I have a long-standing interest in Australian shipbuilding, ever since I was employed as research officer by Senator Peter Sim (Liberal, WA), who was then chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
In response to an invitation of a friend, I arranged a visit to Austral Shipyards, one of Australia’s most successful and innovative shipbuilders, who have their yards at Henderson, south of Perth. Austral are so successful they are now building ships for the U.S. Navy, which is almost unheard of and a major coup for Australian industry.
In Ken Aldred’s comprehensive article, “Avoiding another Collins-class submarine fiasco” (News Weekly, August 20), he left out a key statement: no-one in Australia can build these vessels!
If anyone wants to see what the Department of Defence wants for these submarines, they can go online and search Wikipedia for “Australia’s new submarine project” and see that defence planners have entered into the realm of fantasy if they think any Australian yard can build these boats.
Apart from the fact that we could get the submarines off the shelf from Germany for $9 billion (compared to the $35 billion it would cost us to build them), if we bought German submarines they would actually work!
I would bet my house on the fact that no Australian-built submarine would come in on budget, and I would bet my mother’s house on the fact that they wouldn’t work, because the Collins-class submarines didn’t come in on budget and any submariner will tell you they are a horror to serve in.
If we wanted a new design, we could give the specifications to Electric Boat in Connecticut and they could start work tomorrow.
Austral Shipyards can’t build these boats; it’s beyond their capacity. Nor can anyone else in Australia.
So Mr Aldred, as far as I’m concerned, you left out the most important thing in your article: where are these boats going to be built?
American and French revolutions
Ann Coulter might be an admirably trenchant commentator in the culture wars, but Bill Muehlenberg’s review of her latest book, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America (News Weekly, August 20), reveals her to be a trifle swashbuckling in her treatment of history, particularly the French and American revolutions.
The French Revolution was an extremely complex phenomenon, which certainly involved atrocities and mob violence, and contained the ideological roots of left-wing tyranny and intolerance.
However, it also contained elements which contributed to the development of genuine liberalism (as opposed to the misleadingly named left-wing American version), democracy and religious pluralism.
Any generalisations asserting its ineluctably radical nature are to be suspected, given the huge diversity of opinion from 1789 to 1799 in Paris, let alone the rest of France.
Robespierre, for example, who is often regarded as the representative figure of the French Revolution, was, for all his faults, a Deist who believed in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul, and therefore opposed the militant, blasphemous atheism of other Jacobins and groups to the left of them.
The American revolutionary leaders were also Deists. The “Nature’s God” of the Declaration of Independence is not the Christian God, and “We the people” are the supreme authority in the Constitution of the United States which, unlike Australia’s, contains no reference to God.
Whether the Americans had just cause to rebel in 1775 is a highly arguable proposition.
Given the new nation’s retention of slavery (which would have been abolished in 1833 instead of 1863 if it had remained part of Britain, and which would in turn have prevented the Civil War, the tercentenary of which we are remembering this year), apologists for late 18th-century America such as Ann Coulter are scarcely advised to throw stones from their glass house at late 18th-century France.
Britain ashamed of Waterloo?
I refer to Dr Hal G.P. Colebatch’s article, “Britain ashamed of Waterloo” (News Weekly, August 6, 2011).
I normally regard News Weekly as the one publication in this country that refreshingly tells the truth irrespective of political correctness, but this article is so distorted that I’m surprised you didn’t check for factual accuracy before publishing.
I realise that finding some pretext or another to denigrate Britain is a national pastime here, but the fact is that there are a number of very well-planned 200 year celebrations afoot for the Battle of Waterloo which will involve the British government, royalty and other European governments.
I would suggest you Google Waterloo 200. You might be quite amazed at just how much is in fact being planned; there are other events as well.
South Coogee, NSW
Western Australian author Dr Hal G.P. Colebatch has long been a distinguished commentator on British culture and public affairs. His 1999 study, Blair’s Britain, was chosen in The Spectator (London) as a Book of the Year. He has been a compiler and editor of a number of editions of Debrett’s Handbook of Australia and would therefore be most unlikely to yield to political correctness or to support the denigration of Britain as a national pastime.