The Guardian • Issue #2049

Politics in the Pub – Leederville WA

Alliance against AUKUS

Photo: – (CC BY 2.0).

Since the Labor government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the funding of the $368 billion (and counting) contract to buy six nuclear submarines under the AUKUS Agreement, opposition has been building in the community around Australia amongst peace, anti-war, and anti-uranium mining groups.

The Communist Party of Australia is a member of the Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition, joining forces with many like-minded groups and individuals officially campaigning for the cancellation of the AUKUS agreement and the contract to buy and/or build up to eight nuclear submarines.

AUKUS will create insecurity rather than build security and peace in the Indo-Pacific region. In WA the Greens were there from the beginning when Stop AUKUS WA was being set up, and they continue to be vocal in their opposition to AUKUS and the submarines.

One of the most public rebuttals of AUKUS occurred on 27th March 2023, when Western Australian Greens Senator, Jordan Steele-John on the ABC’s Q&A rebuffed Country Liberal Party Senator for the Northern Territory, Jacinta Price’s claims that AUKUS would protect Australia’s national security interests.

On the contrary, insisted Steele-John, AUKUS would make Australians feel less secure and the money would be better spent on issues on which people feel really insecure – homelessness, climate change and dental care – which the Greens are seeking to be brought into Medicare. Senator Steele-John said the Greens oppose the AUKUS deal and believe the $368 billion could be better spent elsewhere than on a pathway to an escalation of tension in our region.

It was with great interest then, that I attended a Politics in the Pub at which Senator Steele-John and three of his colleagues would speak; Senator Dorinda Cox (WA), Senator Janet Rice (Vic) and Senator Larissa Waters (Qld), at The Garden Bar in Leederville, Western Australia.

The chair for the event was Senator Steele-John himself. He gave his colleagues three minutes to talk about themselves and an issue they were passionate about. Steele-John said he was passionate about bringing dental care into Medicare.

Janet Rice named climate change and the environment, and said she wanted to see the amended Safeguard Mechanism to reduce pollution ensure that most of the 116 planned coal and gas projects did not go ahead.

Dorinda Cox, Yamatji-Noongar woman, and the first Indigenous woman to represent Western Australia in the Senate, was also passionate about the Safeguard Mechanism as many of the proposed coal and gas projects are on Aboriginal land. As per the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Dorinda Cox believes the Voice is a pathway to Truth and Treaty and if successful can show all Australians that a vote for a Republic and a new Constitution is possible.

Larissa Waters was in Perth to lobby for better abortion access for women.


With the introductions over, it was time to put our elected representatives to work. The first question was about Federal Resource Minister Madeline King’s speech at the Powering the Future Conference at which she urged young people to work in the resource sector as a way of addressing climate change.

The Greens responded by saying their party needed to go into the dens of rich white male power and make these institutional spaces of our society more responsive to the needs of all Australian people.

A question was asked about how to address transphobia and abuse being suffered by transgender people across Australia. The Greens responded that transgender rights are also human rights, and that increased education and awareness are needed.

Dorinda Cox answered a question about more realistic levels of wages and welfare by saying we need to empower communities as this was one way to eradicate poverty. Among Aboriginal people this would ensure greater transparency and action on Closing the Gap targets of which only 4 out of 18 are on track.

In regard to a question on the proposed tax cuts for the wealthy which the ALP government are still intent on approving, Larissa Waters said, “[The a new government [is] still doing the same thing as the previous government … we need to get rid of the tax cuts and use that money to fund housing, health and education.” Janet Rice added that she is in Perth as part of an enquiry into poverty in Australia and has heard of many Australians experiencing housing stress which often meant decisions being made to either pay the rent or having enough food on the table.

Another question was on the independence movement of West Papua. The Greens advised that they supported freedom for West Papua, and that the problem of Indonesia was one of race. As in Australia, they said, Indonesia also needed to show greater acceptance and respect for the wishes of its Indigenous peoples. Steele-John also believed in ongoing dialogue and has been talking with representatives from both Indonesia and West Papua.

On climate change Steele-John responded to a question about the diminishing activism in the community since the pandemic, which saw only about 100 people attend the latest action on School Strike for Climate Change in Perth, by saying communities needed to be empowered to make choices that are best for people in those communities to become more sustainable and resilient.

There also needed to be other sources of information on what is happening in the world to counter the powerful narratives of the corporate/capitalist media which would see us run lemming-like over the climate change cliff, if it would help the capitalist system continue making a profit.

The Communist Party of Australia supports and continues to work with the Greens on many progressive issues including Stop AUKUS, The Voice to Parliament, Climate Change, Stopping Tax Cuts to the rich, lifting the incomes of the lower paid, and the right to housing.

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