You are currently viewing HOW WE CAN STOP AUKUS: fighting the drive to war

HOW WE CAN STOP AUKUS: fighting the drive to war

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Speech by Alison Broinowski at an AUKUS public meeting, Redfern Town Hall, Sunday 23 July 2023

Twenty years ago, when Australia ran for a seat on the UN Security Council, our delegation used the slogan ‘We do what we say’. No sooner had Australia won the seat than a new government did what we didn’t say. It cut our overseas aid budget, and reversed our vote on the Palestinian territories.

We have just learned that another Australian government is not going to do what it said. Victoria won’t host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. The nearly seven billion dollars cost is beyond the Andrews government’s means, and while they will spend the originally budgeted $2.47 billion on social housing and sports stadiums in regional Victoria, the bill for compensation will be hundreds of millions.

Whatever the importance of the Commonwealth or its games, Australia’s reputation for being a short-termist, untrustworthy country grew in 2021 when Scott Morrison secretly set up AUKUS with his US and UK counterparts, and reneged on Australia’s submarine agreement with France. In June 2023, the Albanese government paid France a $830 million penalty to get out of that contract.

So Australia is to spend $368 billion on eight nuclear-powered submarines, and more for second-hand Virginia boats to tide us over until about 2040. We are already spending unknown billions to create naval bases, long-range weapons facilities, and technological partnerships with the United States and the United Kingdom. Apparently, Australia can afford that, but we can’t pay to public education, hospitals, infrastructure, and renewable energy. And Victoria can’t afford the Commonwealth Games.

Our British and American allies are now unreliable, politically and economically unstable nations. Perfidious Albion is one thing, but in his 100th year, we all recall Henry Kissinger’s warning that having the US as an enemy is dangerous but as a friend is fatal. Australia would be wise to cut our losses, and once again not do what we said. We should get out of AUKUS before it’s too late.

Coalition ministers evidently didn’t know what Morrison had done or said about AUKUS, neither did the Australian people nor their political representatives. As always, successive Australian governments are unaccountable to their electors on foreign affairs and defence. Next to no-one is informed or consulted. We still don’t know the real cost of AUKUS.

But opposition to it is growing, and may be expressed at the ALP conference. Our elected representatives may hear it next week if they venture out into Brisbane in breaks from the AUSMIN meeting on foreign affairs and ‘defence’ – a euphemism for militarism.

What they are more likely to hear will be based on the 2015 US/Australia Force Posture Agreement. This year’s Defence Strategic Update is a mere ditto, built on that. As Kellie Tranter wrote in May, ‘The combined effect of the Force Posture Agreement and other defence agreements with the United States is to nullify Australia’s capacity to make independent decisions about war avoidance and war fighting. Together they lock us into providing the United States first with secured areas under its control from which it may conduct a war, and second, with comprehensive logistical support.’ (https://johnmenadue.com/what-is-the-us-australia-force-posture-agreement-fpa/)

Kellie Tranter is a committee member of Australians for War Powers Reform, an organisation that has since 2015 sought accountability from Executive Government – the small cabal around the Prime Minister which has repeatedly decided in secret to send the ADF to war. We want such a decision to be debated and voted on by all parliamentarians, who are then accountable to their electorates for the consequences. Accountability includes full, independent inquiries into the results of a war, and disclosure of its costs, economic, environmental, and social, including to veterans and to people in the countries we attack. We want accountability for AUKUS.

The best outcome of all, in my view, will be for Australia – after two centuries of aggression on behalf of our allies – to observe our obligations in the UN Charter, the ANZUS Treaty, and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and stop attacking other countries altogether. We can only achieve that by getting the Prime Minister, Defence and Foreign Ministers to listen to groups like yours and mine.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Chris Hunter

    How do you wake up a nation sleepwalking itself into a major conflict? Certainly, articles like this are paramount, but time is running out, like the natural world; according to the scientists seventy percent has been destroyed since 1970, and ongoing. In my opinion, there needs to be a major fundraiser followed by a billboard campaign targeting the ideology of those who want to control and destroy our society purely for their own ends, corrupt that they are. We also need to take to the newspapers, write letters of protest, and support those who run foul of the draconian laws recently (hurriedly) legislated to suppress any meaningful forms of public gathering. All it takes for evil to arise is for good people to remain seated. It was this very apathy that allowed the holocaust to transpire. Never again!

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