It is Australia’s worst nightmare, Indonesia seeks to annex the Kimberley Region in Australia’s North West with the support of the traditional owners of the land – the Aboriginal people.
Played out against a backdrop of nations on the verge of panic by predictions of a rise in sea level due to global warming, Indonesia manoeuvres to occupy the sparsely-populated region without the use of military force. If it succeeds, the ANZUS Treaty would not be activated as it provides for military support by USA only in the event of military invasion.
But Indonesia is not the only threat to Australia’s security. China has wide ranging business interests in Australia and would react to any military confrontation between Australia and Indonesia by moving in troops to protect its investments.
Australia must decide whether to attempt to win a Pyrrhic victory, or accept the new reality and share ownership of the Australian land mass. Three men emerge to play defining roles in the confrontation. Their belief of what is morally right is tested as each of them struggle to achieve the best possible outcome for their own people. It is a clash of three cultures. Each driven by its own moral imperative.
Checkmate is a work of fiction, not a prediction.
However, the background information about Indonesia, and the situation of the Aborigines, described in Checkmate is factual. The University of Gadja Mada in Jogyakarta, the UGM, exists as described and the education program, Living Together, is a real-life initiative by the United Nations to combat religious intolerance.
Indonesia is Australia’s nearest and most significant neighbour, but there is a curious arms-length relationship between the two nations. The value of trade between the two countries only ranks each of them as the other’s tenth largest trading partner. Trade imbalance is not an issue as imports and exports are almost equal. But there is a population imbalance, Indonesia has a population of 255 million, ten times that of Australia. Compared with Australia, Indonesia has less than a quarter of the land area and 40 times its population density.
In regard to border security, Indonesia is Australia’s bête noire. It is no secret that Australia’s military defence strategies focus on possible invasion by an anonymous South East Asian country that everyone knows to be Indonesia. To date, military conflict between the two nations has been limited to minor confrontations in the 1960s and 1970s triggered by expansionist moves by Indonesia to the north of Australia.
Indonesia’s population distribution problems, and its relocation of more than 20 million people in a transmigration program, are well known. However, the abrupt termination in 2015 of the transmigration program has not been explained.
The boosting of Indonesia’s military capability by the inclusion of more than one hundred million reservists in 2015 was stated to be necessary “to guard the integrity of Indonesia against various foreign threats.” But no mention was made of who, or what, those various foreign threats might be.
Dire predictions of catastrophic rises in sea levels have now been endorsed by the United Nations, and the President of the United States has called on low-lying populations to take action now. The fervour with which the global warming lobby is now main-stream thinking is reminiscent of the Y2K fiasco when governments panicked needlessly and squandered billions. But whether or not the predicted rise in sea level does occur, countries like Indonesia would be irresponsible if they do not take steps to secure a safe haven for their population.
But Indonesia is not the only nation with the resources and ambitions to challenge Australia’s complacency. It is tempting to believe that China’s investments in pastoral, agricultural, mining and infrastructure projects in Australia form a sinister pattern and are part of a long term strategic plan to gain commercial dominance over Australia.
However, Indonesia and China are not the only potentially de-stabilising forces of concern to Australia. The Australian Government’s unwelcome plan to close up to 150 Aboriginal settlements in remote areas is yet another issue adding fuel to the 250 year old disputation of sovereignty over the Australian landmass by the Aborigines.
Checkmate assumes a scenario where Indonesia’s recent termination of its transmigration program, and their recent strengthening of their military reserve force, are steps in a long-term strategy aimed at securing a foothold in Australia. A long-term strategy that joins with the Aboriginal people’s desire for autonomy to create a perfect storm threatening Australia’s ongoing existence in its present form.
What happens next?
Checkmate is not the end of the challenge to Australia’s sovereignty. It is only the beginning. Will China intervene if Indonesia eventually occupies the Kimberley? Will Indonesia be satisfied to occupy a small area in the North West or will they seek to expand their area of control? Will China and Indonesia fight a war for control of northern Australia?
Checkmate is Book One of a planned trilogy, Destination Australia, that will seek to provide the answers to these and other questions.