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.

 

Christmas 2018 Urgent Appeal

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Attn: PEACE LOVERS –Urgent Appeal.

The recent APEC conference in PNG laid down the provocative position that the US along with Australia and other countries would engage in aggressive competition rather than cooperation with China.  This position means Australia is becoming part of a regional effort to threaten and oppose rather than cooperate with China.  Our region deserves better.  Australia and US have added a military base on Manus Island which will ramp up tensions in our region still further.  The ground is being prepared for war rather than peaceful cooperation.  The situation in our region needs citizen action against the foolhardy and mistake-prone Trump administration in Washington and a bumbling Morrison Government here.

At present the Anti-Bases group has less than $50 in our account.  We can’t act for peace without financial resources.  Hence, as Xmas the season of peace approaches, we are making an urgent appeal to you.  We ask you to donate a spare $50 or $100 even more if you want, to our campaign to resist the new Australian Base on Manus Island and to keep us going.

Yours in Peace

Denis Doherty

Bank details: BSB: 659 000 acc no: 734 827 acc name: Australian Anti-Bases

Or send cheques etc to PO Box 899, Sydney Sth NSW 1235

Australian Militarism in the Pacific

A letter we wrote to the Minister for Defence 20th Oct, 2018

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP
Minister for Defence
PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Minister,

Re.: Australian militarism in the Pacific

The Australian Government’s decision to re-claim the Lombrum military base on Manus Island, under the guise of a joint facility agreement, is extremely alarming. There seems little doubt that the main motivation for the move is not to benefit the people of PNG but to counter Chinese interest in the island’s port development.

The Lombrum agreement exemplifies how Australia’s adhesion to a ‘hip-to-hip’ alliance with the US, its own military ambitions and its anxieties about China are undermining any capacity we might have to engage on a mutually beneficial basis with our much smaller and less powerful Pacific neighbours. The people of the Pacific have suffered long and hard at the hands of military powers and many have worked tirelessly for a peaceful Pacific. Instead of being inspired by that work, Australia is wielding its economic and military muscle unfairly, compromising the independence of Pacific Island states’ own foreign policy making.

What began as the Australia’s Defence Department’s Pacific Patrol Boat Program in the 1980s, the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP) has now grown military tentacles that extend far beyond our rightful reach. December 2017 saw the inauguration of a 30-year regional aerial surveillance capability, supposedly ‘civilian’, involving a $10 million Department of Defence contract (annual?) with Technology Service Corporation and the permanent basing of two long-range aircraft in the region. The new capability is in addition to the ADF’s Operation Solania and activities of the Quadrilateral Defence Coordinating Group (Australia, NZ, France, US).

Australia has also established a $2 million communications centre at the Lombrum  base and extended its patrol boat program by promising 21 new Guardian Class (i.e. military) patrol boats to 12 Pacific nations, including 4 for PNGDF and 2 for Timor Leste; the reported cost is over $300miliion. Plans for an Australian Pacific Security College are also being implemented.

Now the program is to include a ‘joint military facility’, what will be in effect a foreign military base for Australia – a $5 million upgrade of PNG’s Lombrum naval base all the better to support US and Australian navy operations and accommodate large US and Australian warships. The base is also to receive regular deployments of Australian armed forces, adding to the network of RAN advisers already deployed in PNG.

The PMSP, combined with other ADF activities in the Pacific, is a program of military intervention and risks abusing the sovereignty of Pacific states. Non-intervention and sovereign equality are founding principles of the UN Charter. Australia’s insistence on assuming economic and military leadership in the South Pacific has made us a bully. Even conservative commentators acknowledge our misuse of power. ASPI’s Graeme Dobbell recently stated, “The hegemon isn’t always benign—we have form as a selfish bully” https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australias-agenda-for-integrating-the-south-pacific/. Another ASPI spokesperson, Michael Shoebridge, has made clear what is the true purpose of the Manus Island base: “ … it makes ‘good sense’ for Australia and the US … it would help give the US a wider operating and support footprint in the Pacific and give Australian naval forces a location 2000km from [their otherwise closest base in] Darwin …”

Australia’s excessive offshore military posturing in the Pacific makes no sense strategically. It is perceived by China as a hostile, provocative action, simply an augmentation of US aims to militarily contain China.

Australia needs to be talking to and building a cooperative relationship with China, not spending huge sums of aid money on such things as the Lombrum naval base and other developments to pre-empt or compete against Chinese interests. Why couldn’t Australia have worked with China on upgrading PNG’s ports, something we could have done also on the $136 million internet cable between PNG, Solomons and Australia?

Every dollar spent on military aid is an opportunity lost. Many Pacific communities are among the poorest in the world. They need support to develop their education, medical and other essential services, not a base to accommodate foreign defence forces. Imagine what could be achieved if the PMSP and its Pacific military budget were transferred to DFAT and used to help meet civilian need, including the islands’ efforts to mitigate the effects of sea level rise and severe weather events!

Pacific leaders have rightly criticised Australia for its failure to meet its global responsibilities in dealing with climate change. Global warming is the world’s greatest security threat, and the Pacific Islands are among the first and worst of its victims. Australia’s foremost and indeed most urgent responsibility to the Pacific Island states (and the world) is to put in place its own emissions reduction measures to achieve, within the next 12 years, a 78% emissions reduction on 2010 levels, as demanded by the recent IPCC report.

Besides being unduly interventionist, the Lombrum agreement is anti-democratic. PNG’s Prime Minister and defence command may support Australia’s military interventions but neither the people of Manus nor of Australia have been consulted. The agreement has not been given so much as an airing in either country’s parliament. For the past 5 to 6 years, Manusians have had their community life and economy seriously disrupted by Australia’s notorious refugee detention centre, managed by our militarised ABF. Now, they are to suffer the imposition of a foreign military base and become the focus for Chinese and US/Australian strategic rivalry.

The glaringly obvious question to you and your government is: How does Australia’s military impositions on Manus Island, PNG generally and other small Pacific neighbours differ from the destabilising strategies of which you accuse China? Australia’s increasing military expansion – its claim on Lombrum naval base, its development of Fiji’s Black Rock military camp, its increasingly provocative military exercises, such as the annual Indo-Pacific Endeavour wargames – is diametrically opposed to a peace promoting foreign policy and the ’de-escalating of uncertainties’ to which the PM has given lip service.

We also ask that, as demanded by basic accountability, the full text of the Lombrum Base agreement with PNG and related documents be made public. Has revision of the SOFA between PNG and Australia occurred? What environmental and social assessment has been undertaken?

Australia has the capacity and responsibility to be a force for peace in our region. It is tragic that the government is denying our potential.

Sincerely,

No US or Australian Base on Manus Island PNG!

Australia choses a negative path in the Pacific

No US/Australia Base on Manus Island

The behaviour of Australia at the APEC Forum in Port Moresby this week (17-18 Nov 2018) resulted in greater tension and dangers of conflict along with the bellicose US.  The announcement of an Australia/US/PNG military base on Manus lsland is a disgrace.  It is said that the facility will be a PNG base at which Australia and the US will just happen to have elements of their navies. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne stated that the “details have not been worked out yet.”

“We have heard this statement before,” said Denis Doherty of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign. “In the case of Darwin it meant that Australia paid the full $2.2 billion to build a base for US marines.  It means the US will not take any orders from Australia as to what it will or will not engage in. It means US service personnel who break local laws will be tried in the US courts.

“When the details are worked out we know that Australia will pay the bulk of the costs for the PNG base.

“We know the people of Manus, already sorely tried by Australia’s scandalous refugee policy, will have the bear the brunt of Australian and US servicemen’s criminality.  This is not a deal to help PNG but a selfish act by players who are used to being colonizers and exploiters of the Pacific,” Mr Doherty said.

According to a letter in the Sydney Morning Herald, “PNG is experiencing an unprecedented health crisis – inadequate human resources, the revival of polio after two decades of absence, a high incidence of tuberculosis and HIV, and medicines scarce in most rural areas.  Life expectancy is almost certainly falling.  Remarkable then, that as the budgetary provision for overseas aid is at its lowest on record, we – and the United States – can think of no better contribution to PNG than to build a bigger and better naval base on Manus Island.”

In the region Australia has relied on the US to lead it and the US has led us up the garden path yet again. This means that Australia will pay in dollars and then probably in blood as Vietnam and Korea.  Australia had the choice to promote peace and cooperation with between China and the US but instead chose to go with regional tension and competition.

Economic development is unequal within and between countries in the world. The stated aim of China’s belt and road program is to even out development. It is tragic that Australia has turned its back on this for selfish ideological reasons.

Overall, the Australia has set itself on a path of regional tension and competition.  These decisions represent nothing but a thrust towards war with a huge potential costs for all Australians.