- by Ron Hall
- The Guardian
- Issue #2052
With an ultimate price tag of over half a trillion dollars, AUKUS represents a huge attack on the Australian way of life, on the environment and working families across the nation.
The unmasking took place at an urgent meeting during the “coronation” weekend in Adelaide where two inspirational speakers provided insightful explanations on “AUKUS: Why we are opposed!”
Margaret Reynolds AC, former ALP senator, minister in the Hawke government and an Australian representative at the United Nations, has worked with international human rights and peace organisations. Explaining how DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs) was a poor cousin to the Department of Defence, with an annual budget of $6 billion as opposed to $48 billion, Reynolds confirmed that Australian governments took their “marching orders” from the USA.
Media collaboration in the promotion of AUKUS, including the ABC and SBS, she regretted, along with the obvious contradiction of adopting a war-like stance against our major trading partner.
Greens member of the South Australian Legislative Council, Tammy Franks, a “Tampa Green”, and former co-ordinator for Amnesty International Australia, has Peace and Disarmament among her current portfolios. Franks commented on a recent inquiry into the nuclear fuel cycle which declined to recommend nuclear waste storage in South Australia. Accusing the former federal government of mortgaging our future with a blank cheque to Defence for militarisation, Tammy Franks explained how Australia would have to guarantee to deploy our nuclear submarines in any US war.
With 26,000 ship movements annually in the conduct of Australian trade and only one submarine likely to be available at any one time, she exposed what an “expensive folly” AUKUS will be.
In the light of meagre journalistic criticism, the question was posed: how best to oppose AUKUS.
It was agreed that arguments should focus on the inefficient job creation element. AUKUS will create jobs, at a cost of $20 million per job. This highlights the dire need for non-military jobs such as doctors, nurses, teachers and carers, to mention only a few much-needed occupations.
Along with this, we should support the Bungala people in opposing a waste dump on the land, and the hazards of nuclear waste transit ports such as Port Adelaide or Geelong. At the same time, we should also support those MPs, notably in Port Kembla and Fremantle, who have questioned the value of AUKUS, not only domestically but also in the context of concerns raised by our neighbours.
All the lies that nuclear submarines can operate without any detrimental effect on the environment should be exposed, for example by reference to the Thresher (the first nuclear submarine accident, still unsolved). In this regard, we need to involve younger people whose future is under threat with possibilities of escalating environmental damage caused by war, the realities of conscription and limitations on career choices.
In the question and answer period following the stimulating presentations, the need to work with the union movement was raised. There were also comments on how South Australia, the nominal “defence state”, was promoting militarism in government schools, and the use of NATO to provocatively surround Russia which has led to tragic suffering in the Ukraine.
Concerns were expressed about the increasing number of industries being established in SA which offer very few jobs, but make Adelaide a target – for example Raytheon who are manufacturing missiles among other weaponry to fire on China, and Mainfreight, a logistics company specialising in looking after the military needs of foreign troops based in Australia.
The meeting, which attracted an audience of over fifty, was sponsored by the Graham Smith Peace Foundation, WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom), The Greens, and IPAN (Independent and Peaceful Australia Network), and was also attended by a contingent of CPA comrades.
Individually, each one of us as activists should make use of our phones and consistently ring our federal members of parliament making clear our concerns.