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Issue #1810      February 14, 2018

Voices for Peace

Armaments merchant

To

The Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence

PO Box 6100
Parliament House,
Canberra, 2600

Dear Ms Payne,

As we approach this year, the centenary of the cease fire of the war to end all wars, it is disturbing to say the least that our government wants to remember the loss of 60,000 lives with a massive program for Australia to be a major armaments merchant. We believe that more taxpayer dollars should not be committed to the manufacture of weapons used in war. The $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility to assist arms industry companies wanting to find overseas markets serves only the forces that in fact brought us World War One.

In the spirit of the voices of over 100 years ago that called for world peace, Australia should be an independent voice seeking diplomatic and peaceful resolution of conflicts, not a country boosting the arms race and the profits of arms manufacturers who rely on the existence of conflicts. The doubling of military exports from Australia between 2013 and 2015 and a further 50% in 2015 and now the talk of further increases, is clearly not in the spirit of the mentioned forebears.

As you know, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty came into force in December 2014, and has 130 signatories, and 89 ratifications, including Australia’s. As you know many Australians who have demonstrated on many occasions their opposition to arms trade fairs we hope you can acknowledge that they don’t want to go down the path of militarisation of society.

Australia has a history of positive actions for peace internationally and whilst in recent decades this admirable record has been reversed we would ask that you join in dialogue with Australian peace groups, such as ours, to reassert Australia as a nation genuinely championing peace.

We would assert that it is not strong defence exports that will safeguard Australia against conflict, but strong and respectful relationships between Australia and countries in and outside our region.

Your government’s assertion that arms exports will only be to countries where there are strict controls in place, is not borne out by current practice, for example where Australian firms have received contracts to supply Saudi Arabia with military equipment, despite the appalling human rights record in that country and its ongoing war on Yemen.

In this time of growing inequality in both the world and Australia our tax dollars would be better invested in areas such as health, education, transport, and import replacement initiatives that serve and develop local opportunities for the diverse regions of Australia.

The AABC along with other local peace groups believes our government’s foreign policy should be focused on dialogue with and support for other countries to address the causes of war and offer resources to help create the conditions of peace – not actively promote measures which perpetuate war.

Yours sincerely,

Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition

What alternative?

To

The Hon Richard Marles MP

Shadow Minister for Defence

PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Your reported comments in the Mercury newspaper and in other news outlets to the effect that “a future ALP government would allow the US to expand its military footprint in Australia” is extremely worrying. Not so long ago your leader said there was not a “cigarette paper of difference” between his position and the Prime Minister’s position on so-called national security.

We now see that the reason for voting ALP has disappeared as you and your government would be as uncritical of the bellicose Trump administration as the Turnbull government. We need calm voices in Australia to protect us from the scourge of war yet your voice as the alternative government to the smug and uncritical tones coming out of Julie Bishop’s mouth and others in the Liberal National government is just as bad.

We ask you how many more US bases can we host in Australia? How many more exercises can we participate in? How many more large tracts of land are to be contaminated by US ammunition used at practice or bombing ranges? When will any ALP government draw the line and say enough is enough?

At present we have 50 US facilities and our ADF is constantly exercising either in this country or overseas. The stationing of US Marines in Darwin has meant that we (the Australian taxpayer) have to pay for their accommodation to the tune of $2.3 billion.

Apart from loading us up with extra debt and neglecting the ALP’s so-called consideration for the ordinary working family of Australia. Clearly, this policy from these perspectives is ridiculous, as it sets up an Australian government that will continue to neglect education, health, and social welfare just the Liberal Nationals are doing.

Internationally the US has 1,000 bases in 40 countries and yet you are suggesting that they be given more? Your policy will mean that expenditure on the US military will threaten domestic objectives but more that it will threaten trade. This will mean loads of job losses. Yet you in an ideological straight jacket have deemed it is a fair enough risk to run against the very workers who so faithfully support the ALP. How long can China maintain a reasonable relationship with Australia if it continues to give bases to the US from which that aggressive country can attack or at least threaten China.

Yours sincerely

Denis Doherty
National Coordinator AABCC

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