An Epistle to Saint Kev


MEMO To: St Kev, Canberra
From: Mary, Coogee

Dear St Kev,

Word in the Vatican, Kev, has it that you’re going to get the gong, the puff of smoke, emerge as the electorally anointed one for True Believers. So, I was wondering if we could discuss a few issues I’ve been wrestling with namely, this whole China business and a little thing called Asian ‘security’ in the 21st century.

I know you’ve got a lot on your plate what, between your birthday celebrations and The Nomination but your recent comments on China and the United States have got me scratching my head a bit.

Now, it’s true that politics without spin is a bit like Liberation Theology très passé, mate and I suppose I should be glad that you’ve got the Chinese lingo down pat, but getting my head around where we’re going with all this has led me back to the Political Tarot, reading the tea leaves for Divine Inspiration, and sleeping during your China Sermons. There’s no need to go all Thorn Birds on us with that strip joint stuff St Kev what we need is some good answers to some bloody big questions.

What will happen between China and the US, Kev? Are we backing the US? Will we be part of an all-in-brawl? What’ll we do about the carnage when Taiwan and China take the gloves off?

Let’s start with your speech  at the Brookings Institute, a US Theo-Pol-logical College of some renown, in April. You said that what was needed was, ‘continued US strategic engagement in East Asia and the West Pacific anchored in the existing pattern of US military alliances, including those with Japan and Australia ‘ As well as to ‘engage China in the maintenance of a regional and global rules-based order ‘ And, following the earlier recommendations of the ‘Independent Task Force on China-US Relations’  of the US think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations:  

An affirmative agenda of integrating China into the global community by weaving them into the fabric of international regimes on security, trade, and human rights and balancing China’s growing military power.

Hey Kev, isn’t this sort of like saying: could the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs please agree on a way to play football so that the Bulldogs win every week? [Or for Victorian Philistines, the ‘Cats’ and the ‘Hawks.’] Can you please explain who the referee is here, and why only now six years down the track we’re starting to get the China military thing, during this War On Terror sub-plot?

Thanks to Paul Batey

What are the boys in the Chinese team saying about the meeting of the Very Holy (Trilateral) Trinity US, Japan and Australia at APEC; about the naval military exercises of Japan in Australian waters in early October; and about the role of Pine Gap in any US missile defence program? These developments don’t suggest a China tilt at the Asian Pacific Cup, do they? More worryingly, they hardly support the idea of a peaceful ‘Asian Century,’ or strong relations with China as we balance our defence and economic interests.

In fact, you’ve said that close links with China will not get in the way of Australia’s alliance with the United States if Labor is elected and, if anything, you see the relationship with Washington ‘further strengthened into the future. There’s so much by way of Australia’s defence interest and our strategic interest which depend on a robust relationship, a strong relationship with Washington.’  

You must be playing this China-US Game with some Vatican know-how St Kev because, by my reckoning, that makes it 2-0 Washington’s way in the Global Salvation Stakes.

But I’m confused. I don’t understand where all this is going to end; why we can’t find Osama; and how, as my Visionary Leader, you’ll act if China and Taiwan come to blows?

According to your meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao during APEC (who expressed concern that the secessionist activities of ‘Taiwan independence’ seekers undermined not only China’s ‘sovereignty and territorial’ integrity, but also ‘peace and stability in the region and the world at large’) you declared that the Labor Party had been firmly pursuing the ‘one China policy’ and that the stance would not change. And, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s report of the meeting, you said that:

the secessionist activities of ‘Taiwan independence’ seekers are harmful to regional security, and that [the Labor Party]opposes ‘Taiwan independence’ as well as the Taiwan authorities’ activities seeking ‘a referendum on UN membership.’


Does this mean that if there is a bit of argy bargy over Taiwan, you’re going to just ignore the US Alliance and back China, defying our ‘important relationship’?

Sounds like an each-way bet at the Birdsville Races, Kev.

It’s not that I haven’t become used to the odd (US) Christian Crusade against the Mussies (600,000-1,000,000 dead in Iraq and counting), or that I’ll discount economic imperatives (oil and gas), or that I naïvely believe the Australian Labor Church will start singing hippy songs to counter growing Chinese economic and military might. However, as a True Believer, I’m wondering when you’re going to ditch the Church Choir, Kev, bring out the tambourines and let us all in on the plan for the region’s future.

It seems to me that the Cardinals and Scribes in the Holy C(anberra) have been discussing this China thing behind closed doors with the likes of Monsignor Rupert which seems rather Byzantine for a  21st century faith. And I guess that, in the end, you won’t be burying bodies, which makes the decisions easier.

But my fervent hope, St Kev, is that you can restore our faith in the Church by giving the ordinary and struggling citizens a bit of a fair go, arguing the ‘Peace On Earth’ thing at every opportunity, and using your holy power to make sure that there is a limit to this war stuff.

I mean, that’s what saints do, right?

If you can leave a few answers in the Parliamentary Confessional Box, Kev, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Mary Keady

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