Battered Australia needs a Churchill

by ROGER CROOK – AUSTRALIANS are tired after two slow years of pandemic recovery and a rapid escalation in rents, mortgages, the cost of food, diesel, petrol, electricity and gas. 

Cost of living, for many, has become an extraordinary challenge and seemingly unrecognised by a somewhat dense government in Canberra.

That the challenges facing Australia at present transcends Party politics is as plain as the appendages on the drover’s dog. The nation is desperate for a leader of Winston Churchill’s ability.

This is a Labor Government absorbed with trivial Party politics and an indecent haste to implement its socialist ideology, rather than address the important matters of State and national security.

I live for the day when the demands of this nation come before political ambition and Party ideology; but then I am old and have a long memory and a sense of history.


One of the most interesting times in political history is what happened in Britain in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War.

Hitler had torn up the Munich Agreement he signed in 1938, which was a settlement reached by Germany, Britain, France and Italy that permitted German annexation of the Sudetenland in western Czechoslovakia.

Chamberlain became alarmed at Hitler’s continued aggression, so he signed the Anglo-Polish military alliance; then Germany attacked Poland; so, on September 3, 1939, Britain declared war on Germany.

Chamberlain formed a war cabinet; after a decade out in the political cold, he brought Winston Churchill back into cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty.

Then in the spring of 1940 Denmark and Norway were invaded by the Germans; there followed a heated debate in the House of Commons which resulted in a motion of no confidence in Chamberlain, the appeaser.

After much activity around Westminster, Chamberlain resigned and recommended Churchill to King George as the person to succeed him.

On May 13, 1940, King George VI, invited Winston Churchill to form a government. When Churchill stood before the House of Commons to explain that he had accepted the King’s invitation; many were surprised because they had expected Lord Halifax to be Neville Chamberlain’s choice.

It was in that speech on May 13 that Churchill told the House that he had formed a War Cabinet from all the political Parties, and it included both Chamberlain and Halifax, he told them he had nothing to offer except “Blood, toil, tears and sweat”.

“You ask what is our aim? I can answer you in one word victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, no matter how long and hard the road maybe; for without victory there is no survival.”

And then those immortal words: “Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”

Australia is not facing conditions anything like those faced by Britain in 1940; they were at war and unprepared for war.

The British people were tired; they had survived the First World War; the Spanish Flu and were trying to emerge from the Great Depression. The British did not want another war.

They were aware that Hitler and his powerful military machine was just across the North Sea, and it was not a friendly force; they were aware Hitler’s intention was to move through the Low Countries and on to Calais, which on a clear day they could see from the white cliffs of Dover.


On the other hand, since the end of the Vietnam War the majority of Australians have lived in what the Prime Minister of India, Mr Morarji Desai, in 1978 called a placid place.

Ignored by most of Asia and a long way from Europe, for over forty years Australia has basked in its natural wealth and the superficial benefits of migration.

The recent revelations that the ADF is not fit for purpose and seriously understaffed, appears to have gone unnoticed and/or ignored by many Australians.

Like the British in 1939, we are not prepared for war; we are unable to defend ourselves; the majority of Australians, particularly those who were born after the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers, show little if any interest in what makes Australia what it is in the 21st Century; they appear to show even less interest in the politics of the nation and appear happy to follow cultural or family mores.

On being told that Australia is unable to defend itself, they would probably reply, “So what?”

We now find we are simply observers as the Houthi rebels in Yemen sink merchant ships in the Red Sea using land-based missiles with extreme accuracy. We do not have missiles like the Houthi have; in fact, we do not have many missiles of any kind.

The Houti objective is to close the Red Sea and so the Suez Canal and they are succeeding in their mission; they say they are supporting Hamas and Palestine against Israel, America and Britain.

The Houthis are also using drones for both reconnaissance and to attack an American Battle Fleet, the Royal Navy and battle ships from ten other nations who are trying to keep the Red Sea – and so the Suez Canal – open.

We did not send our Royal Australian Navy to help out because our battle ships cannot defend themselves against the rebel’s missiles and drones.

According to Bloomberg the diversion of over 30 per cent of the world’s shipping away from the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, will increase freight cost of goods between Europe and Australia by about 173 per cent.

Last year Australia imported goods worth $60b and exported goods worth $23b to Europe through the now closed Suez Canal.

The effect of this closure will be inflationary, it will affect a range of products from Europe, including food worth some $6.2b and it will increase the price on a range of pharmaceuticals.

It will also increase the price of a range of machinery from trucks to passenger vehicles and spare parts for current and past imports.

The latest news is that the Houthi claim to have now launched drones and anti-ship missiles at both Israeli and American ships in the Indian Ocean.

If true, this means that the Houthi can attack those ships, which have diverted around the Cape of Good Hope, rather than chance the Red Sea-Suez Canal journey.

Any disruption to the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean will have a devastating effect on world trade and on Australia.

Western Australia is Australia’s grain exporting State and the Indian Ocean is the gateway to its markets around the world, any disruption to those markets would be a serious challenge for WA farmers.

Australia is no longer a shipping nation; among the OECD countries Australia and New Zealand stand out as two nations who do not rate a mention in world shipping circles, even land-locked Switzerland outranks Australia.


This leaves Australia far too dependent on foreign interests to move our international, and even domestic cargo, over sea.

It is unlikely that this latest escalation will affect exports of iron ore from the Pilbara to its main markets in China, Korea and Japan, which all have to traverse the South China Sea.

India though, may keep a weather eye on the situation because it has a number of steel mills along its west coast.

Australia’s inability to defend itself has not happened during the term of this Labor Government; it has taken at least twenty years of apathy and abdication of responsibility by successive governments.

The lessons of history were poorly learned by Australian politicians; it appears Australia has recklessly assumed that the ANZUS Treaty would always protect Australia; that big brother America would always be there.

Australia has been asleep as the world has slowly changed and the balance of power has shifted. The Indo Pacific Region is now home to three of the major economies in the world, India, China and Japan and the rapidly rising South Korea.

Eighty per cent of world trade by volume is transported by sea, sixty per cent of that volume passes through the Indo-Pacific. Security of the Indo-Pacific is a prerequisite for the prosperity of world trade and the very existence of Australia as we know it.

How to both trade with and prevent China’s economic coercion on countries which depend on it for trade, and at the same time manage the tensions China is creating in the South China Sea, not the least being Taiwan, is occupying many minds in the Pentagon and one hopes in Canberra.

It has caused the American 7th Fleet, stationed in Japan, to try and ensure that all sea routes in the region remain open, so far, they are successful, but they are being challenged by China, as have both the RAN and the RAAF when operating legally in that region.

There are two “choke points” in that part of the world, choke points which are currently within the range of Houthi rebel’s missiles; Bab-el-Mandeb, known for eons as The Gate of Grief, or the Gate of Tears – a narrow strait between Yemen and the Arabian Peninsular – and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa.

In days gone by difficult for sailing ships to navigate, these days a point of potential tears and grief for another reason.

The other choke point is the famous or infamous Straits of Hormuz, off the coast of Iran.

Bab-el-Mandeb is the gateway to the Red Sea and so to the Suez Canal and 30 per cent of the world’s shipping.


It is now effectively blocked by the Houti rebels; rebels they may well be, but they are armed with sophisticated weapons, missiles and drones provided by Iran.

The Houti rebels are proxies for Iran, and they are defying the might of America and many European Navies, including the Royal Navy.

The Strait of Hormuz is found between Oman and Iran. It is the narrow strip of water that connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.

In 2018 the average oil flow through the Strait was 21m barrels a day or 21 per cent of the world’s petroleum liquid consumption.

For the foreseeable future Australia will remain a trucking nation and have to rely on petrol and diesel to move goods around this vast continent; that will happen in spite of the exhortations of the Minister for Climate Change, and his seriously myopic determination to create, at any cost, a zero-carbon Australia.

There is enough petrol, diesel and AV gas on shore, in Australia, for about 30 days, maybe fifty; that includes the needs of the ADF and all airlines in and out of Australia.

Practically, all of our oil is sourced as crude and refined overseas; as crude it has to traverse one of the two critical choke points; in some cases, it has to navigate the South China Sea, twice; a journey which means at least being recognised in some way, by the Chinese navy and an American Battle Fleet.

Some of Australia’s crude oil is refined in Singapore; the majority is refined in Japan, South Korea, China and some in the US.

There are just two, now heavily subsidised, oil refineries in Australia; twenty years ago, there were eight unsubsidised refineries.

Twenty years ago, we had 90 days oil supply on shore, now depending on who you believe, it is half that. Our 90-day strategic reserve, as crude oil, is stored on the west coast of America, three to four weeks away by sea. Of what use is it when we only have two oil refineries in Australia?

It would appear that the major oil companies in Australia made the commercial decision that it was cheaper, meaning more profitable for them, to refine the country’s fuel requirements overseas rather than on shore in Australia; which means that a commercial decision made by an international cartel to enhance its fortune, can now be shown to have been against Australia’s basic needs, including the nation’s strategic defence requirements.

Why didn’t the governments of the day over the past 20 years, Labor and Coalition, prevent this from happening? Did they not realise, or did they just shrug and give in?


Were they coerced with the threat of higher fuel prices if the cartel didn’t get its way? Did they not appreciate that their legacy to Australia is that a minor or a major disturbance in either of the two “choke points” and/or in the South China Sea, will very quickly reduce Australia to chaos and worse?

That Australia needs a person of Winston Churchill’s ability is obvious. That the challenges facing Australia at present transcends Party politics is as plain as the appendages on the drover’s dog.

It appears that those elected by the people, on both sides of the House, are blissfully unaware of the situation or, perhaps, they go to bed every night hoping the challenges we face, will have gone away by morning?

Do they not understand that we are an island nation, and our very existence depends on freedom of the seas and that means the defeat of those, like the Houthi, who seek to inhibit that?

To do that we need to spend our money on our ADF, particularly our RAN.

We need to decide whether we should spend our money on ensuring our way of life or on reducing our 1.3 per cent contribution to the world’s emissions; while China, to make the tools of a carbon-free society for us, emits more in a month than Australia does each year.

China’s emissions are more than 35 per cent of the world’s total and increasing.

Like Chamberlain, I fear those we have elected to parliament will realise, too late, that there is no appeasing those who are determined on a course of action, which is against our best interests.

Without victory there is no survival for Australia.

The only answer, as Churchill told us all is “blood, toil, tears and sweat”.

Is that too much to ask of Australia today and of those in whom we have entrusted our future.

And do we have politicians with the conviction and the “ticker” to put country before Party?PC

Roger Crook

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH:  Winston Churchill. (courtesy Britannica)

3 thoughts on “Battered Australia needs a Churchill

  1. So very well put!!! The writing has been on the wall for years. And now it’s time to tackle the increasing burden of poor governance, myopic decision making and over inflated self importance.
    We are an island nation and need to find the strength and courage to become self-reliant in the face of increasing global adversity.
    We do, indeed, need a Churchill.

  2. “There is enough petrol, diesel and AV gas on shore, in Australia, for about 30 days, maybe fifty; that includes the needs of the ADF and all airlines in and out of Australia.”

    Try 7 days onshore plus another 14 days in transit in tankers in transit. Or so I’ve been told on VERY good authority.

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