- The Guardian
- Issue #1981
The sudden announcement of the AUKUS (Australia-UK-US) military agreement which will bring nuclear-powered submarines to Australia has provoked worldwide and growing opposition.
New coalitions are forming in Australia and internationally to fight the agreement because of its serious cost, security, and environmental dangers.
The cancelled French conventional submarine deal has already cost $2 billion. It was slated to cost about $90 billion to build and $145 billion to maintain over their life cycle. What compensation the French will demand is not clear.
Nuclear powered submarines will be even more expensive while the government has given no figure to their cost. However, what is clear is that the US and the UK firms will make considerable profits from this deal.
Paying for the nuclear submarines and other commitments will be extraordinarily expensive and will mean that other government departments will be raided to finance them. Welfare, education, the environment, and the important health budget will suffer. Workers’ wages, especially those in public service like nurses and teachers, will remain at an all-time low.
While military spending does create jobs, it does not create nearly as many jobs as a comparable investment in productive industry. The effect of increased military spending is to take resources out of creating products that expand economic activity and to sink them instead into the creation of tools that destroy.
The transfer of highly enriched uranium and related technologies to Australia may well violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and encourages nuclear weapons proliferation. It provides Australia with resources needed to become a nuclear power.
Nuclear powered submarines present a risk to the environment and the people of Australia as they can suffer accidents to the reactors and in collisions. There are already nine nuclear reactors on the seafloor from sunken nuclear submarines.
It is highly dangerous to build nuclear submarines in a city of 1.3 million people. Green Party leader Adam Bandt has called it putting “floating Chernobyls in the heart of Australia’s cities.”
AUKUS may be a trojan horse for a nuclear power industry and even the adoption of nuclear weapons by Australia.
American war games suggest it cannot win a battle with China in the South or East China Sea. Yet, we have signed up for that possibility.
The US and UK are two Anglo countries that can retreat from Asia if their strategy fails. Australia can’t.
LOSS OF SOVEREIGNTY
AUKUS places Australia on the front line of any future war with China. It drags us into a conflict that will not serve our interests. And it says very clearly, between now and then: we have chosen America.
How can Australia assert an independent and peaceful foreign policy with a military that is so integrated into the US? The AUKUS deal brings a further dramatic loss of Australian sovereignty and freedom of choice.
In 1985 Australia signed the Treaty of Rarotonga, the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty. This is trashed by the AUKUS agreement.
The creation of this new military pact threatens security in the region and makes us complicit in dangerous regional tensions and conflict.
Indonesia and Malaysia have expressed strong opposition while significant political and military figures in India, South Korea, and Japan are asking why they have been denied these capabilities.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There is a great deal that Party members and supporters can do now and into the future – for this will be a tough and long campaign.
Here are some suggestions and you may well have more good ideas of your own:
Sign the petition (it reached 14,000 signatures in a week) (see “Petition: no nuclear submarines” for details — get others to sign!)
Write a letter to politicians and newspapers, using the information above and in other Guardian articles. Keep on writing them.
Raise it in your union and get a resolution to go to the government and the ACTU.
If you are not in lockdown organise and join protests!
Work to develop specific actions to involve environmental groups in the campaign. It may help that Friends of the Earth (FoE) have issued a good statement and have a petition.
Organise monthly pickets (1-2 hours) at a suitable location; send out media releases about the pickets; maybe feature quotes from different speakers you have invited.