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.