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Banana Shire takes AUKUS by storm. What’s the scam?

by Kim Wingerei | Feb 10, 2024 | What's the scam?

The by-now mythical figure of $368 billion for the AUKUS submarine mirage is creating a frenzy. So far, we’ve seen some of those billions go to shipyards in the US and the UK, but now Queensland’s Banana Shire wants their own slice of the action. What’s the scam?

The scam is the AUKUS Forum. The Forum “brings together industry, academia, researchers, government, and defence […] in a desire to make AUKUS work, and identify the opportunities it presents.” In other words, there’s a big pot of gold, let’s go get our share.

Co-chaired by former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and former Ambassador and Liberal stalwart Arthur Sinodinos, the AUKUS Forum is a registered company with a paid-up capital of $12 and a single shareholder, Michael Sharpe. Sharpe has the longest LinkedIn profile this writer has ever seen, and on the Forum website, he claims to have “a personal contact base of over 100,000 people.”

MWM has not yet been able to establish how the Forum is funded, but according to its website, it is creating an extraordinary amount of interest and activity.

The forum’s latest announcement is apparently ‘historic’: “Banana Shire Council and the AUKUS Forum have signed a landmark partnership, marking the first-ever membership agreement between a Local Government body and the AUKUS Forum.”

The Banana Shire is east of Bundaberg in Queensland. It is landlocked. According to Mayor Nev Ferrier, the AUKUS Forum represents substantial benefits, “including job creation, investment attraction, economic growth and diversification.”

We have no doubt that Ferrier and the Shire’s 14,500 inhabitants are sick of banana jokes, so we won’t add to that. But we do note that according to the Shire’s website, apart from being home to a coal mine and an ammonium nitrate manufacturing plant, it’s mainly an agricultural area that specialises in produce such as herbs and spices, squab (pigeon meat), mungbeans and leaf processing.

We can only speculate on which of these areas will benefit most from Submarines being built in the UK and the US, the announcement is long on rhetoric and very, very short on detail. But who are we to argue? That AUKUS pot of gold is very real, even if the rainbow isn’t.

The scam within a scam. US, UK officials are flying high on the AUKUS teat.

Kim Wingerei is a businessman turned writer and commentator. He is passionate about free speech, human rights, democracy and the politics of change. Originally from Norway, Kim has lived in Australia for 30 years. Author of ‘Why Democracy is Broken – A Blueprint for Change’.

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