2020 Federal Budget: Tonight’s budget a setback for Australia and the region

Frydenberg’s 2020-21 budget confirms a profligate spend on Australia’s military capabilities that is unjustifiable from every view point: strategic, economic, environmental and social.

The addition of a further $3 billion to the already allocated $42.2billion for 2020-21 will see Australia acquire a military capability grossly disproportionate to its defence needs. The planned capability will work less as a deterrent to adversaries and more as provocation and destabiliser, undermining national security. It also undermines security by diverting money from priority areas such as health and the environment.

“The military budget is one place where we can afford to cut our expenditure as we face no enemies and are not under any threat of direct or indirect attack by any state.  Instead the Government has caved in to the pressure from US and European arms corporations and decided to spend on weaponry like there is no tomorrow” said Denis Doherty from the Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition.

“The Treasurer promised us a budget ‘all about jobs’”, said Mr Doherty. “What in fact his budget does is propose very inefficient, uncertain and expensive means to generate jobs, and the military component of the budget exemplifies this.”

In 2017, US researches compared the number of jobs created by the investment of $1 million in various sectors: for every $1 million spent on defence, 6.9 jobs were created. The same amount invested in health care produced 14.3 jobs and in clean energy 9.8 jobs.

The Australian Government plans to spend $45 billion on defence. If ten per cent of that amount were transferred to healthcare, something like 64,000 jobs could be created in our struggling health care system and, in addition, we could be better equipped to combat the pandemic. If another ten per cent went to clean energy, we’d have about 45,000 jobs and could help address the nation’s major security problem, the environmental crisis.

“Australia’s limited resources would clearly be better spent on shoring up our health system than it would on upgrading military hardware.

“Australian taxpayers may ask if spending more than A$80 billion on 12 new submarines, which security specialists say will be out of date before they are delivered, is a sensible use of scarce resources when there are more immediate and compelling threats to our community,” Mr Doherty said.

“Where is the massive public housing spend? Where is the major health initiative? Where are the environmental protection measures?

“The Morrison Government’s budget has delivered a massive setback to the people of Australia which will make us poorer but not safer or healthier,” Denis Doherty concluded.

For more information contact:

 Denis Doherty, Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition,

3.6% surge in global military spending

3.6% surge in global military spending

The announcement by the independent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) that the world’s military expenditure for 2019 has gone up by 3.6% the largest annual increase in a decade — is an indictment on the world’s priorities.  When the Covid-19 pandemic hit there were not enough medical supplies to deal with the crisis yet there were plenty of submarines, warships, missiles and guns.

Australia too has been slow to get itself equipped to deal with the virus. Across the country, there are still shortages of personal protection gear, intensive care equipment and testing kits. We were poorly prepared for a pandemic, despite many warnings from epidemiologists of the inevitability of a pandemic in the near future. The last rehearsal for the nation’s response to a pandemic was 2008.

In contrast, Australia is preparing energetically for war, primarily for fighting alongside the US Armed Forces. SIPRI’s estimate of Australia’s military spending for 2019 is US$25.9 billion, 2.1% higher than in 2018 and 23% higher than 2010.

Recent comments of Australian Defence Force spokesperson Brigadier Kahlil Fegan are refreshing: “We just have to rethink how we certify ourselves for the most prevalent threat, and at the moment the most prevalent threat is coronavirus.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-08/australias-largest-military-exercise-cancelled-coronavirus/12134068. However, it took Defence to 1 April to announce Operation COVID-19 Assist and according to the latest report (21 Apr), only about 2000 ADF personnel have been deployed.

“It’s worrying,” said Denis Doherty of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign, “Brigadier Fegan’s wake-up call has not spread to the ‘establishment’. Key figures in Australia urge the Government to embark on a weapons-led recovery for after the virus.  The arms producers’ think-tank ASPI is pushing the Government into increasing its annual military spending from 2% to 3.2% of GDP.This is a bad idea. Big military spending is wrong on all grounds: security, economic, environmental and justice.”

“Already Australia has contributed to extending the misery of war in the Middle East by supplying Saudi Arabia with the weapons that can be used in the war in Yemen.  But on top of that the Government is supporting weapons producers with a subsidy fund of $3.8 billion (the Government’s Defence Export Strategy).”

“We condemn the Morrison Government’s continued support of the arms industry. See Minister for Defence Industries Melissa Price’s 24 April media release: The Morrison Government is continuing to invest in Australian defence industries to ensure they are in a strong place to deliver new innovations in the post COVID-19 era.
This media release exhibits the abject failure of the Government to resist the arms trade lobby.” (https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/melissa-price/media-releases/multi-million-dollar-innovation-boost-australias-defence)

We call on both State and Federal Governments to reject any suggestions of a weapons-led recovery after Covid-19.

For more information

Contact: Denis Doherty

Health more important than security

Health more important than security

 

The Australia Anti-Bases Campaign (AABC) totally rejects Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s recent statement that the US should maintain its concerns about security in the Pacific at this time of crisis over the coronavirus pandemic.

AABC spokesman Denis Doherty said: “Instead we call on the Australian Government to immediately take the following steps to ensure the health security of the Australian people.

  1. All US personnel travelling to Pine Gap and other US military facilities be refused entry to Australia if they arrive after Monday 16th
  2. Immediately order US Marines out of Darwin.
  3. Cancel all military exercises to be held in Australia especially those which invite foreign military personnel into the country.
  4. Cancel all participation of Australian military forces in exercises in other countries with other militaries.
  5. Withdraw all Australian Defence Personnel from conflict areas and bring those people home safely.
  6. Cancel all contracts that can be cancelled until after the pandemic.

“The time is ripe for Australia to reduce immediately its military spending and to divert the savings to funding the Australian people in their hour of need.

“Divert the savings into health services, doubling the Newstart allowance and to increasing the aid budget for poor countries who need extra assistance in dealing with covid-19,” Mr Doherty said.

“For the Government and Opposition to persist with the present military budget of $34 billion in a time of a pandemic shows a warped sense of values.  Giving priority to killing people in other lands rather than looking after the health of Australians is unacceptable.

“The very essence of the Government role is to protect all our people, not to spend up big to please the US Trump administration.

“Divert military spending to protect our people and the lives of poor people in our region,” Mr Doherty concluded.

As Tim Costello, formerly of World Vision, said: ‘There is always money for guns never for aid.” How about the Government proving him wrong?

For more information:

Denis Doherty

0418 290 663

 

 

Statement on the attack on Iran and the assassination of Qasem Soleimani

Statement on the attack on Iran and the assassination of Qasem Soleimani

The Australian Anti-Bases Campaign condemns unequivocally the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian General killed by a US drone strike on Friday 3rd Jan.  Assassination as a form of political action is not conducive to positive responses or an improvement in relationships.

 

“While the world watches what Iran will do in response and the risk of war rises exponentially, we in Australia watch with horror as we realise that US bases in Australia may have had a hand in the targeting of Qasem.” Said Denis Doherty of the anti-bases campaign.

 

“Furthermore, due to our total compliance with US wishes we have warships in and around the Strait of Hormuz which could be a handy target for Iranian anti-ship missiles.  Once again Australian lives are put in harm’s way for the satisfaction of Australian political leaders proving their devotion to the US Empire.”

 

In WW 2, the Prime Minister had to call back Australian troops to defend us in the face of a possible invasion by Japan.  In 2020 Australia faces the terrible emergency brought by on by climate change and the bushfires.  No units of the ADF must be allowed to be involved in any conflict with Iran.”

 

“This is not the time to provide an extra battalion or air squadron but a time to concentrate on the emergency on our own shores.  We cannot afford the lives or treasure for the US war against Iran.”

 

We call on the Prime Minister and his Government to act in the best interests of the country and keep our troops fighting bushfires and our climate catastrophe.

 

Our demands are:  No new ADF elements to be sent to Iraq/Iran

Bring back HMAS Toowoomba to Australian waters

Bring back the 300 Australian troops presently in Iraq.

No to war against the Kurds – Condemnation of the Turkish Government

ANTI-BASES calls an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syrian Territory.

The war started by Turkey is an aggression against the Kurdish people and an attack against the Syrian territorial sovereignty.

This cannot be and is not the solution of the regional problems. It only brings more civilian suffering and death.  After 4 days of the Turkish Operation there have been many causalities and over 100,000 are fleeing the fighting.

We state categorically that the following entities: the Turkish Government led by President Erdogan, the USA or any other imperialist force can bring peace to the people of Syria.

The real threat to the security of the Middle East is NATO, the US and the imperialist forces and those who insist on collaborating with them.

ANTI-BASES strongly condemn Turkey’s invasion with the permission of the US.  We acknowledge that the Kurdish people that have bravely fought against ISIS and protected civilians in the region.  We further condemn the cynicism of the US officials who acted to have the Kurdish forces remove the defensive barriers in a so called ‘security mechanism’ against an incursion by Turkey which left the Kurds in an even more vulnerable position.

ANTI-BASES calls for an immediate ceasefire.

The ANTI-BASES further condemn the limp wristed response of the Scott Morrison and his Government and the almost mirror image by the ALP opposition.

We call on the Morrison Government to follow French and German example by banning all military cooperation with Turkey.  That includes putting the list below on hold:

  • cooperation on Airborne Early Warning Aircraft development and use;
    • cooperation on Landing Ship Helicopter Dock (LHD) development and use;
    • Joint Defence Industry Trade Missions, and;
    •Training exchanges.

We further warn that the Australian Government must not hide behind the ANZAC myth when it comes to this action.  We do not honour the men who fought in Gallipoli by piling Kurdish corpses on the graves of the fallen of WW1.

Also, ANTI-BASES stresses that the UN must to take its responsibilities vis-à-vis the rights of the Kurdish people. Negotiations must start with all stakeholders in order to guarantee the rights of the Kurdish people.

ANTI-BASES supports all protest actions in front of Turkish embassies and consulates all over the Australia. The ANTI-BASES urges its members and supporters to join with members of the Australian Kurdish Community in expressing our disgust at the decision by Turkey to invade and the treacherous actions of the US.

America’s $300 million push to expand naval facilities in northern Australia

Australia is a Vassal of the United States not an Ally

America‘s $300 million push to expand naval facilities in northern Australia

“The Australian Government is handing over Darwin and its surrounds to the US military with secret plans for a naval base, a commercial port and roads. Once again Canberra is giving up Australian sovereignty and independence,” said Denis Doherty of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign.

Reports today of the US military putting aside $305 million for a naval base in Northern Australia (Darwin) indicate how low Australia has sunk to appease the US and its attempts to remain dominate in the Asia Pacific area.

The National Defense Authorization Act, which is still being discussed in Congress, says the money has been allocated for new “Navy Military Construction” in Darwin

“It is shameful that the Australian people are not consulted about hosting this base and becoming a target should there be conflict, even nuclear, between the US and China,” Mr Doherty said.

As well as the projected naval base, secret planning has begun for a new port facility just outside Darwin which will speed up US Marine operations in the region. The multi-use development would be in the Glyde Point area, roughly 40 kms north-east of Darwin’s existing port.

In addition $40 million has been spent on sealing Gunn Point Road near Glyde Point, improving all year accessibility.

Other than the use for tourism, Gunn Point Road is already utilised by the Australian Defence Force and Police and Emergency Services,

“US common practice is to put the entire bill for its aims on the host country,” Mr Doherty said.

“With the US marines in Darwin, Australia paid the total cost of their accommodation to the tune of $2 billion.

“$300 million will in no way pay for a new harbour/naval base. The cost would be in the billions. So the $300 million is only a token with the Australian taxpayer to pick up the bill for the rest.

“News reports talk of angry reactions from China, but they do not report on the angry reactions from the Australian people who do not want to be targets because we host antagonistic facilities aimed at China,”

“Will this base bring peace and stability and prosperity to our region or insecurity and turmoil? Why do we have to go all out in our desire to please the USA? Mr. Doherty concluded.

Kick the US Marines out of Darwin
No US Naval Base for Darwin or PNG.

 

Australia provides weapons to the Yemen War. media release 25th July

Australia must be transparent about its military exports:

Australian Arms Control Coalition

25th July, 2019: A newly formed group of civil society organisations and human rights advocates are calling on the Australian Government to lift the shield of secrecy over the sale and export of Australian-made military assets, following a damning ABC report aired today.

The story on ABC News 24 today called ‘Fighting Yemen’s dirty war, an Arab military is buying a weapons system made in Canberra’ clearly indicates the duplicity of the Australian Government over the last few years.  It also does not put the former Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in a good light.  Mr Pyne often claimed that Australian weapons would not be used in the conflict in Yemen.

The story refers to the company Electro Optics Systems (EOS) which produces weapons systems in Canberra.  Pallets of these weapons systems are clearly marked to be sent to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of the Interior are seen at a warehouse at Sydney Airport awaiting transport to the war in Yemen.

At the head office of EOS in the Sydney CBD the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign has held a vigil on the second Thursday of the month about EOS systems going to the Yemen conflict.  The vigil has been going for nearly a year now.

“The evidence presented in the ABC story raises a whole range of questions around where Australian arms are going, what risk assessment processes are taking place and what kind of follow ups are being done to ensure these arms are not inadvertently being used to carry out human rights abuses,” said Kellie Trantor, a lawyer and member of the newly formed Australian Arms Control Coalition, which encompasses key Australian civil society organisations and advocates.

“The lack of transparency around Australia’s defence exports is extremely concerning. Australians should know who their government is sending arms to and how those arms are being used, and they should have concrete guarantees that those arms will never be used to commit or facilitate violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law. Right now those concrete guarantees do not exist, and that is unacceptable.”

Chair of the Australian Arms Control Coalition (AACC), Save the Children’s Global Campaign Manager Joe Rafalowicz, said:

“It is unthinkable that Australian made defence exports could be helping fuel the war in Yemen, which has left more than 22 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance, while some 85,000 children have died from the effects of war including starvation.

“The coalition is calling for increased transparency and accountability surrounding Australia’s defence exports processes, and associated risk assessments. We cannot turn a blind eye to the war in Yemen, and the role foreign weapons are playing.”

The Australian Arms Control Coalition formed in April 2019 out of shared concern around Australia’s current defence exports, particularly to parties to the war in Yemen.

Its members include Save the Children, Amnesty International, the Medical Association for Prevention of War, Sum of Us, Wage Peace, Human Rights Watch, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network, Australian Centre for International Justice, Anti-Bases Campaign and Oxfam Australia.

This comes after a UK appeals court last month found the UK had unlawfully authorised exports of British weapons to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the war in Yemen. The Court held that the UK’s system for assessing the risk of defence exports leading to IHL violations in Yemen was flawed because it failed to properly assess and consider relevant evidence of Saudi Arabia’s IHL violations in Yemen.

“This significant decision, which forced the UK government to change its processes for future applications and reprocess all current permits, raises the possibility that Australia’s system is also falling short of a suitable due diligence process,” Ms Traintor said.

For more information

Australian Anti-Bases Campaign

 

 

 

64% Australians reject arms sales to Saudi Arabia media release

Media release 12th June 2019

The majority of Australians believe that Australia should follow countries like Germany and Finland and suspend weapons trading with Saudi Arabia which has been accused of committing human rights atrocities as part of the on going war in neighbouring Yemen.

A new survey by Essential Research has revealed that 64 per cent of respondents oppose Australian arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Only 13 per cent support the sales.

In Yemen an estimated 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation due to the war being waged by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

An Australian company called EOS (Electro Optics Systems) has received a $450 million contract to supply weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Australian Government has subsidised this sale to the tune of $35 million.

EOS has its registered office at75 Elizabeth Street, near the corner with King Street in Sydney’s CBD.

Peace and human rights activists hold a vigil outside this office on the second Thursday of every month, demanding an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia and an end to the war in Yemen.

“We are campaigning for our Government to stop encouraging the export of weapons to the Middle East,” says Denis Doherty of the Anti-Bases Campaign which is organising the monthly vigils.

The next vigil will be held at 75 Elizabeth Street, Sydney from 12 noon to 1pm on Thursday 13 June.

Contact: Denis Doherty on 0418 290 663

Russian Nuclear Weapons the responsibility of the US and Australia

“We strongly condemn the Russian Government for developing new nuclear weapons. This is totally unacceptable at a time when most nations of the world are signing the United Nations treaty on the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Dr Hannah Middleton from the Anti-Bases Campaign said in Sydney today.

“However, we also hold the US responsible for its actions in relation to nuclear weapons.

“US allies like Australia have followed meekly behind the US while it has aggressively updated and miniaturised its own nuclear arsenal, threatening every country on our planet,” she continued.

The US threatens Russia with anti-missiles systems close to the borders of Russia while insisting the system is not aimed at them.  The US ignores Russian complaints about the US building anti-missile systems in countries such as Poland and Romania.

“President Obama, despite winning a Nobel peace prize for his anti-nuclear work, went on o dedicate $1 trillion dollars to update US nuclear weapons systems,” Denis Doherty from the AABCC said.

“President Trump has continued this same tradition of talking peace while ratcheting up the dogs of nuclear war.

“Presidents Obama, Trump and Putin have taken us back to the era a nuclear arms race and of mutually assured destruction.

“The Australian Government concentrates on what North Korea is doing while ignoring the huge nuclear stockpiles owned by the US and Russian Governments. But the arsenals of the US and Russia make North Korea’s puny by contrast,” Mr Doherty said.

“No country is entitled to nuclear weapons as the destruction they would cause is of such a devastating nature that the whole humanity could be wiped out,” Dr Middleton added..

“It is an international criminal act to possess and threaten to use nuclear weapons.

“It is long past the time when both Australian political parties agree to sign the UN treaty banning all nuclear weapons from every country,” she continued.

“We call on the Australian Government to condemn both the US and Russia for plunging us back into the terror of nuclear holocaust through war or accident,” she concluded.

 

For more information:

Contact Hannah Middleton 0418 668 098 or Denis Doherty 0418 290 663

Visit our website: www.anti-bases.org

More Marines for Darwin? No! Boot ‘em out!

Media Release

Monday, February 26, 2018

Anti-Bases and IPAN –NSW peace groups have condemned Prime Minister Turnbull’s agreement in Washington to increase the number of US Marines in Darwin to 2,500 at a greater rate than originally planned.

 

“This is a backward step which is against Australia’s interests,” Denis Doherty of the Anti-Bases Campaign said.

 

“Stationing US marines and elements of the USAF on our shores increases tension in the region and indicates that Australia does not want to pursue an independent and peaceful policy,” he continued.

 

“Why do our governments always obey the US?” he asked.

 

“When the President of Ecuador was asked if he would agree to more US bases in his country, he said he would agree if Ecuador could have bases in Miami.

 

“Contrast that to Malcolm Turnbull who supports more marines in Darwin even though it threatens our major trading partner China,” Mr Doherty said.

 

“Housing these US troops costs Australia $2.3 billion already. In addition the US military use facilities at Robertson Barracks, Mt Bundy tank firing range, the Delamere bombing range and Bradfield,” Nick Deane from the NSW Branch of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network said.

 

“These areas are fast becoming chemically toxic waste lands and the US forces pay nothing for use of them and will not pay for their remediation,” Mr Deane continued.

 

“Around the world US Marines bring major problems for local communities. Darwin has been largely free of incidents but how long before rapes, murders and other anti-social behaviour appear?” Denis Doherty askes.

 

“With tensions on the Korean peninsula escalating the time for calm diplomacy is now.  This is not a time for a version of gunboat diplomacy,” Mr Doherty concluded.

 

For more information: contact Denis Doherty 0418 290 663 or Nick Deane 0420 526 929

Visit our websites: www.anti-bases.org, www.nsw-ipan.org