A position statement by Australians for War Powers Reform
- On 15 September 2021, with no public consultation, Australia entered into a trilateral security arrangement with Britain and the United States, known as the AUKUS Partnership. The Leader of the ALP Opposition was informed one day earlier. The agreement is expected to become a Treaty in 2022.
- At short notice on 16 September, Australia cancelled its contract with France to purchase and build 12 submarines, and replaced it with an arrangement to buy eight nuclear submarines from either Britain or the United States or both. The first of these submarines is unlikely to be available until 2040 at the earliest, with major uncertainties in relation to cost, delivery schedule and the ability of Australia to support such a capability.
- Australians for War Powers Reform sees the public announcement of AUKUS as a smokescreen for other undertakings between Australia and the United States, the details of which are vague but which have major implications for Australia’s security and Independence. AUKUS itself is a precursor to war in our region.
- Australia said the United States had requested increased use of Australian defence facilities. These could include basing more bomber and escort aircraft in the north of Australia, presumably at Tindal. The number of marines deployed in Darwin could rise to over 2,500. Home-porting of US naval vessels in Darwin and Fremantle is also likely to increase, including nuclear-powered and armed submarines.
- As part of this American militarisation of Australia, Pine Gap is significantly expanding its listening and war directing capabilities. Pine Gap, already a target for foreign attack because of these activities, will be joined by Tindal, Fremantle and Darwin.
- To support its expanded military installations, the US is likely to want oversight, amounting to control, of Australia’s northern air space and shipping lanes.
- Acquiescing to these requests or demands from the US considerably undermines Australian sovereignty. Some Australian forces, particularly the submariners, are likely to operate under American command, in Australia and abroad.
- The US military build-up is part of its new Cold War tactics against China, like those it used against the USSR. These tactics are likely to include aggressive flight missions up to the edge of Chinese air space with nuclear armed bombers. The US will patrol shipping lanes more often and more intensely, knowing it has secure home bases only a short distance away, protected by surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles which are soon to be installed.
- Any one of these provocative flights or naval patrols could trigger a warlike response from China, directed against Australian and US defence facilities and other assets of strategic value, such as oil, fresh water and infrastructure, or a cyber-attack on Australian communications.
- Australia could be at war before most Australian politicians are aware of what is happening. In such an event, Parliament will have no say on going to war nor on the conduct of hostilities. Australia will be on a war footing as soon as these arrangements are in place. The ADF will lose its capacity to act independently.
- Far from contributing to ‘strategic equilibrium’, AUKUS could set off an arms race in the Asian region. This will be detrimental to the national security of Australia and our neighbours.
- We deplore the lack of consultation with neighbours, friends and allies, particularly relating to the storage and home porting of nuclear weapons and other US arms, ammunition and materiel.
- We deplore the hostile profile adopted against our recent friend and major trading partner China.
- We deplore the activities of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), funded by foreign arms manufacturers and the US State Department, in blind-siding the Australian people with its advocacy for the American militarisation of Australia.
- Australians for War Power Reform believes the AUKUS arrangements should not come into force, and that AUKUS should not become a Treaty. Before it does, we advocate detailed consultation by the Government with our representatives in Parliament and full public disclosure of the details.
Published 26 July 2022. An earlier version appeared on 17 November 2021.