Tasmania is famous for producing some of the world’s best seafood, wine and lamb. Not that Tasmanians ever get much chance of enjoying the bounty of their own state: even if we’re prepared to pay through the nose for certain local produce, we end up getting the leavings that they don’t export. Where once we could enjoy the state’s famous plump scallops, what’s passed off locally these days as “Tassie scallops” are sad little coin-sized discs of tough, tasteless crud that seems suspiciously likely to have been thawed and re-frozen.

“Ah, they send all the best stuff off to China,” has been the mantra for years. But suddenly, that’s all but stopped. China is trying to punish Australia for pursuing the communist regime’s unconscionable lies and cover-ups over the Wuhan plague. Successive Australian exports have been slapped with prohibitive tariffs. Winemakers are the latest to feel the pinch.

The prickly trade relationship between Beijing and Canberra looks to have further ensnared Australia’s biggest winemaker, Treasury Wine Estates, which has revealed that a powerful drinks industry group within China has called for retrospective tariffs to be slapped on all Australian wine.

If accepted by the Chinese government, as part of an overall tariff punishment looming over the Australian wine industry, it could mean that winemakers such as Treasury Wine are hit with bills for wine that had already been shipped to China in the past few months.

It marks yet another increase in tensions in the trade relationship that is worth more than $1.2bn in Australian wine exported to China every year[…]

The growing trade fight around wine comes at a difficult time for the relationship between China and Australia. Chinese pressure on Australian exporters has included tariffs on barley, restrictions on meat exports and, more recently, holding up the shipment of Australian rock lobsters to China as well as Australian timber exports.

The big exporters’ losses have been local consumers’ gain, though. To their delight, Tasmanian locals have suddenly found that they are able to snap up reasonably priced, decent-sized lobsters again.

Now the Chinese government is aiming its trade guns at wine, with more than $1.2bn worth of Australian wine sold into China and Treasury Wine the biggest player in that market.

And therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? Australian companies have rushed to grab all they can of China’s seeming rivers of gold – seemingly forgetting that, at the end of the day, they’re taking the money of a brutal, genocidal communist regime. Some, like miner Twiggy Forrest, have seemed over-eager to undermine their own country’s national security, if that’s what it takes to keep the profits rolling in.

Somehow, as we Tasmanians look forward to actually being able to afford a local cray this Christmas, it seems hard to summon much sympathy for businesses crying poor after years of growing fat on Beijing’s blood money.

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Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In last decade or...