Focusing on China… 47



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On 17 June last, Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb and China’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng signed the historic China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) and both countries have commenced what our Foreign Affairs and Trade Department calls “domestic processes” to bring the Agreement into force as soon as possible.

While debate rages about the implications of this Agreement – real, imagined and alleged – it is important to know what we, as a nation, are doing to inform ourselves about our already biggest export market.

So off I went to the Australian Research Council website.

The ARC is responsible to the Minister for Education and Training, the formidable Christopher Pyne who made quite a name for himself exposing the waste of public funds during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. Given his keen attention to ensuring that public funds are not wasted, I was certain that the ARC would be right at the cutting edge of funding sensible, essential and vital research work. Not one cent would be wasted I told myself.

According to the ARC website, its mission “is to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community” and, reassuringly, “The outcomes of ARC-funded research deliver cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians”. Even in these times of economic restraint, the ARC hands out about $800 million a year to, so they say, “the most dynamic researchers in Australia”.

So far, so good.

Now, the latest ARC funded projects with a China focus really show that they live up to their high standards.

I was particularly impressed by a $133,514 grant for a study entitled, “Governing Prostitution in the People’s Republic of China” which, it was claimed, would produce “the first detailed study of the governmental regulation of prostitution in present day China” which is simply wonderful, isn’t it? However, try as I may I couldn’t find any comparable study at any Chinese university entitled something like, ”Governing Prostitution in Australia” which just goes to show how backward and introverted the Chinese are.

One potential benefit of this study would be for Australian politicians, business executives and plain ordinary tourists who go to China and want a bit on the side. Or, perhaps, it is just a continuation of The White Man’s Burden, or both.

Another very worthwhile ARC funded project is for a study into China’s rural migrant workers in order to “demonstrate unequivocally that love and romance are far from trivial for these individuals”. That will cost the taxpayers $183,000 and, I suspect, it could very well show that Chinese rural migrant workers are real live human beings – yes, just like you and I – who do really and truly fall in love and have romantic attachments. Why, this could prove that they are almost as good as us but that may need a further grant.

Then there is the $246,000 for a study entitled, “Being famous in China: Celebrities, Heroes and public figures” which will study the “mechanisms by which celebrity and fame have been performed and mobilised” and has promised to produce “a foundation upon which a more global conception of celebrity can be developed”. This sounds to me as if the successful grant applicant is sending the ARC a wink and a nod that he or she will need lots more public dosh.

Then there is the no doubt essential grant of $154,978 to fund critically important research into “the changing importance of soy as Manchuria transitioned from Japanese to Chinese rule”. Yes, I know that this happened seventy years ago and a long way away but we must know why and how both Japan and China “established mechanisms to control the soy economy direct its proceeds to private wealth and regional development and increase production through development, reorganisation or coercion.”

I wonder if this cutting-edge researcher will be roaming around Manchuria grabbing hold of anybody who looks really elderly and quizzing them over a cappuccino – with soy milk, of course – about how the soy industry changed as one brutal regime was replaced by another brutal regime. I bet it is still a major topic of conversation in aged care facilities in Manchuria.

Perhaps my very favourite grant – and this time from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – was $16,500 to a Gold Coast surfing industry group for “strategies for developing global alliances in the emerging Australia-China surfing industry.”

I’m ashamed to admit that, until I read about this grant, I was completely ignorant of the “emerging Australia-China surfing industry” and now I do know, I seriously wonder if $16,500 is really enough to meet this critical need.

The Chinese are noted for their inscrutability and are famously polite to foreigners but I can imagine them laughing themselves sick when they contemplate all of the bullshit in the ARC China shop.


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Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. God, Please help us or is it too late.

    6 REPLY
    • I fear it’s too late. Western Governments are all wolves in sheep’s clothing. I hear overnight that Russia has bombed a CIA trained Syrian rebel group. Does this mean we’re at war with Russia and China? It’s hard, but we need to keep in mind that nothing this government or the US, Canadian or British governments do, that isn’t about ideology and that ideology is money. We’re just the peasants that suit their purposes. I’ve been fighting against coming to that conclusion for years but I believe it is true.

    • Well David James maybe, and maybe not, I just can’t see who else can save us from today’s politicians. Both major parties suck. Got any other suggestions.

    • I think it is too late Trish. The only thing that can stop this is most of the Australian people start making loud noises and demand that the government stops this TPP. It won’t happen though, because most people are too apathetic, don’t care, don’t know and can’t be bothered.

  2. lmao I got no further that reading the formidable Christopher Pyne and I could not read any further due to laughing, I think you meant feather brained Russel. well said Rob I agree

    1 REPLY
  3. OMG really, Our Politicians love to waste the hard earned TAXPAYER funds, but a study into PROSTITUTION in China, what the hell are we paying Politicians for? I’m sure they just sign anything put in front of them, I’ve always said there’re idiots but now it has been CONFIRMED, what a disgrace.

    2 REPLY
    • I thought China was one of the richest countries. Even tough the stock market is shakey they still have more money than us. I don’t understand how we have to give grants to them. I guess that is how they stay rich and bribe countries like Aust for (ChSFTA)

    • We are the idiots, they get very well paid, and after a few years they retire with very generous pensions,thanks to our apathy and gullibility.

  4. Sounds like hogwash to me!
    Governments can and do waste money.
    We are so connected to China now that if they go down the economic slide then we do too.
    Then half of them can come over here.
    And some of them can be nurses as they don’t have to pass our standards.
    They could become engineers and not have been skilled or educated to australian standards as well as ours.

  5. This is very frightening. Recently had a medical procedure done. The doctor and 2 nurses were Asian. Nurses could barely speak english. Between the 3 of them they had no idea what they were doing. Had to go back three days later to have it all done again. They wonder why we come across as racist. Why are these people placed in responsible situations if they can’t understand or speak english?

    3 REPLY
    • My son had serious surgery on his knee. He asked the Asian doctor for a medical certificate for the time he’d need to be off work. The Asian doctor said 1 day. Fortunately Father Bear (You think Mummy Bears are fierce?) had gone to purchase crutches and to bring him home so he was there to say. “He can have two days off without needing a medical certificate. 1 day is ridiculous. The Asian doctor looked at the nurse (who had been pulling faces behind the Dr back) and said “How much do you ” think? The nurse said sarcastically “You’re the doctor” so “the doctor?” went away and came back with a certificate someone else had filled out for 1 week off and 2 weeks light duty. His job is entirely on his feet and carrying steel without walking is going to be difficult but he’s gone back to work with resulting swelling in his leg and even before he left the hospital there was blood pissing out onto his foot. Doctor? I don’t think so. Maybe one of those university students who paid someone else to do their assignments.

    • My goodness Leone. Is he okay? If they bring more of them out to do electrical work how many will be electrocuted or burnt if there are house fires.

    • He’s a mid thirties (I’m a toughie) male Delmae and can’t be told. Fortunately his firm value him and have been most helpful. It was two weeks before he could even drive a car to work. Now it”s almost a month and he is still not riding his motorbike. This says things are not good.

  6. I am a LNP Voter but Labor are right on this one .In no other free Trade Agreement that we have, does it allow Companies from Trading Partners to import its own workers .150 million might seem like a lot of money to allow projects to bring in their own workers now but in 10 years and with mining and ore etc .150 million will be nothing . No immigration by pass Thanks

  7. Yep giving it away while we are being told we are going to be taxed heavier. What waist but I wonder what they have to gain ?????

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