The Guardian June 13, 2001


Government ties Australia to war plans

The Australian Government is making war preparations, spending a fortune 
on advanced military technology. Federal budget defence spending is up 5.3 
per cent, and 70 per cent of the $23.5 billion budget increase is allocated 
to the acquisition of "specialist military equipment" and tying Australia 
more tightly to the insane plans of the Bush Administration for US global 
domination. It is considering the purchase of the high altitude Global 
Hawk.

In a speech On May 18, Defence Minister Peter Reith stated, "Our defence 
ties with the US have never been stronger than they are in this, the 50th 
anniversary of the ANZUS treaty.

"We have much greater access to US military technology today than ever 
before, including highly critical and sensitive technologies that have the 
potential to significantly improve our capabilities."

One of the areas of biggest spending is shaping up as the purchase of a new 
pilotless aircraft, or uninhabited air vehicle (UAV), a highly 
sophisticated spy plane.

One of these planes, the Global Hawk, recently flew from the US to 
Adelaide, where it was greeted with the kind of elaborate ceremony usually 
accorded visiting dignitaries, and a corresponding media fanfare. The event 
is now being hailed by the issuing of a special postage stamp.

Its deployment and testing in Australia is part of a $20 million 
government-to-government, cost-sharing arrangement between the US and 
Australia.

The Global Hawk boasts a range of over 3000 nautical miles. It is capable 
of high altitude surveillance and reconnaissance and can loiter over target 
areas for up to 24 hours at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet while 
monitoring communications and activities below.

The imagery and other information collected can be transferred for 
immediate use for rapid strike action or further analysis and use by 
Intelligence or the operating commander.

"As laid out in the [Defence] White Paper", said Reith, "the Government is 
committed to developing enhanced intelligence capabilities, particularly in 
relation to imagery collection, and deeper levels of co-operation with the 
US in a number of key systems."

This will no doubt also include an enhanced role for the US spy base at 
Pine Gap in the US's National Missile Defence system (the new Star Wars 
program).

Australia's military spending is set to rise even higher in the next few 
years. Both the major parties are committed to implementing the 
recommendations of the most recent government White Paper on defence, 
"Defence 2000  Our Future Defence Force".

The White Paper states that we should spend an extra $23.5 billion over the 
next ten years on upgrading our military capability, with an overwhelming 
emphasis on purchasing new technology. Reith has announced that Australia 
is now committed to a ten-year defence development program, the Defence 
Capability Plan.

This comes with a ten-year defence-funding program "involving sustained 
real increases in defence spending averaging 3% per annum".

Defence Minister Reith lavished praise on the "Global Hawk deployment to 
Australia" and noted that "In further phases we will explore acquiring such 
a system", with an official decision to be made in 2004-2005.

Not being subject to the physical limitations of manned aircraft, UAVs can 
be built more cheaply and carry a higher payload. They also have a greater 
range.

If intercepted, it is possible that they could be programmed to self-
destruct, with no loss of personnel, and without fear of their advanced 
technology  falling into the hands of another nation.

This technology is by no means limited to surveillance. Although that is 
the official role of the Global Hawk, the plane is only one of a number of 
new aircraft, such as DarkStar, being developed for a wide range of 
capabilities, including bombing raids.

It could also be deployed for the surveillance of Australian citizens, 
including those involved in peaceful protest. Moreover, its characteristics 
suggest clearly that it would be of major advantage for intervening in the 
legitimate activities of other nations.

This likelihood becomes even more disturbing in relation to the White 
Paper's statement, equivocal to the point of absurdity, that "although 
Australia's defensive position is defensive, we would seek to attack 
hostile forces as far from our shores as possible".

Reith, in a speech given in Brisbane last month, said that Australia could 
no longer take for granted a decisive superiority over others in the 
region. "We will have to work to retain our place", he said with arrogant 
contempt for our neighbours.

The budget papers note that "the Australian Defence Forces will be 
developed for the defence of Australia and for operations in our immediate 
region", and that one of the top priorities is to "have defence forces able 
to make a major contribution to the security of our immediate 
neighbourhood."

It advocates "supporting wider interests internationally through military 
participation in coalition forces..."

Carried to its logical conclusion, such a policy could see Australian 
unmanned aircraft used to spy on, or attack, nations in our immediate 
vicinity, or in the wider region. The US has singled out the People's 
Republic of China for special mention and both the US and Australian 
Governments are anxious about developments in Indonesia and protecting 
Western "interests".

The cost to the Australian taxpayer will be astronomical.

The economy is recessed, companies are going bust, workers are being laid 
off, and the Howard Government has no hesitation in throwing billions of 
dollars at new military technology.

The Government has clamped down on crucial areas of spending, including 
social security, health and education, and its unwillingness to tackle 
growing unemployment and critical environmental issues, such as the 
establishment of a national energy policy, is patently evident.

Subservience to US aims of global domination is implicit in the budget 
defence papers, which note that the government "will pursue its national 
defence objectives by maintaining Australia's military alliance with the 
United States", as that country prepares for a major conflict, backed to 
the hilt by Australia.

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