The Guardian • Issue #2073


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2073

Hannah Middleton

With the escalating development of space warfare facilities in Australia, as part of the AUKUS deal, it is useful to look at how one such development was defeated in Hawaii.

Hawaiian activist Koohan Paik-Mander reports that in 2019, when plans were announced for an Aerospace Development Corporation (ADC) and a rocket launchpad in Hawaii, she attacked it in the media, which caused the ADC proposal to be dropped the following day:

She wrote that the proposal to “establish the Hawaii aerospace development corporation to grow investments and job opportunities in the aerospace industry and for workforce development,” would in fact be “a step closer in fusing Hawaii with a 21st Century arms race.”

The ADC, Koohan pointed out, would be run by unelected officials; be empowered to issue special-purpose bonds to benefit aerospace/defence corporations doing business in Hawaii, and would secure state funding via loans directed by the governor through the state general fund, interest free.

It would also authorise the use of public lands, including road-ways and easements, for launch sites and other industrial parks, and the acquisition of private property, including waters, minerals, submerged lands and air space.

The ADC would be exempt from paying state and county taxes with its main purpose being to funnel seemingly unlimited financial and natural resources to corporations with no public oversight.

The proposed Aerospace Development Corporation would serve no one, Koohan insisted in her article, “except for corporations that could not be held accountable due to the absence of transparency and democratic process.”

Hawaii already ranks lowest in the US on return of services for taxes spent. Creation of the ADC with its built-in outflow of subsidies would have solidified this dubious ranking.

In 2014, a large explosion after a rocket launch on Kodiak Island in Alaska caused serious damage to the launch infrastructure and scattered debris and toxic chemicals across the coastal landscape. Kodiak residents still complain that there has never been verifiable success in cleaning up the mess.

According to Alaska Public Media, a Department of Defence employee confessed that the launch facility existed solely to siphon millions of dollars every year for a project that had no practical use, despite the promises of jobs and a new thriving economy.

Aerospace industrialists no doubt view these developments as opportunities to build more launch pads and expand profits.

“The reality,” Koohan insisted, “is that this is a sector that involves missiles, nuclear weapons, nontransparency and astronomical government subsidies. The aerospace defence corporations are already highly opaque due to non-disclosure clauses that are routine in the industry.

“Creating the Hawaii ADC would create yet another level of non transparency that would distance tax-paying citizens ever more from their right to know how public moneys are spent. It would also refresh the strategic bullseye target on Hawaii in high-visibility paint.”

Koohan asked: “Is this really what the Aloha State should be supporting?

“When President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, Gov. David Ige proudly signed two bills into law the following month, declaring that the state of Hawaii would defy the Trump administration by committing to the principles of the Paris Accord.

“Likewise, just because Trump has no desire to restrain the threat of war, does that mean that Hawaii should adapt its economic possibilities in lockstep?”

She summed up her opposition to the plan by stating that creating the Aerospace Development Corporation would be unacceptable because it flies directly in the face of democracy, transparency, sustainability, fiscal responsibility and aloha.

We must be prepared to fight the same battle here in Australia.

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