18 Feb. 2007

Take Your US$ And Shove It!

The Road to Surfdom blog has been questioning the value of Australia's ’special relationship’ with the USA:
[T]he security benefits Australia enjoys as a result of its ’special relationship’ with the USA are illusory, in that the only serious threats that we face wouldn’t exist in the first place if it weren’t for the nature of that very relationship.
People say the military threat is worthwhile because of the increased accessed to "intelligence" (no matter how bad it is?) and of course the blessed economic benefits. But is that true? This comment stands out:
I was involved in AUSFTA negotiations for a major industry group, and I can say with some certainty that it has not paid off and never will. All of the serious agricultural measures, for example, are on the never-never. Phased reduction of beef barriers over 18 years? Forget it!

The few ‘benefits’ that have been realised do not make up for the long list of possible and actual downsides, and some of those benefits - the visas, especially, which have some merits - could have been realised without making them part of a package which is definitely not in Australia’s interests.

Just take a look at what it is doing to our copyright laws: activities that used to be regarded as minor covil infringements are now, under pressure from the US entertainment conglomerates, being turned into criminal offences with excessive penalties. Even the few upsides here - the belated amendments to the Copyright Act that make the use of MP3 players and VCRs legal, for example - are more complicated than they need to be, and still expose consumers to significant risk. All this in the name of ‘harmonising’ US and Australian copyright laws.

Frankly, if some protectionist Democrats in Congress decided to overturn the agreement, we should be grateful. I doubt any Australian Government will have the spibe to trash it themselves.

Meanwhile: enhanced relationship = being forced to buy outdated or substandard defence equipment completely unsuited to our actual needs - the rationale being this equipment will allow closer cooperation between Australian and US forces.