The misbehaviour of HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Parramatta

Dear Minister,

 

We are sad to read of an account of the above ships stopping near the village of Gangjeong on Jeju Island South Korea reported in a newsletter printed by that village.

 

The article alleges that the RAN ships arrived on Nov 3 2017 and while other ships from other countries stopped around the same time it does imply that the Australian ships are just as culpable.  The names of our ships can be clearly seen on protest banners in the photos in the article.

 

Jeju by the way has been declared an Island of Peace and the presence of our warships greatly offends the people of Jeju and the village of Gangjeong.  In January of 2005, the central government officially declared Jeju an ‘Island of World Peace’ and the 70th anniversary of the uprising and US – sponsored massacre of Jeju people by Korean troops and paramilitaries will be celebrated soon.

 

The Gangjeong Village Newsletter reports “foreign warships come to the navy base for ‘rest and re-supplying’, meaning that they dump their trash and sewage and bus soldiers to big tourist attractions.  Jeju is being used like a reward for foreign soldiers for their participation in joint military exercises.  The amount of trash already surpasses the island’s infrastructure.”  The Australian ships mentioned above must be part of this effort to use Jeju as a garbage dump.  Surely Australian ships should behave with more respect for the environment than ships from careless countries such as the US.

 

The article goes on to allege that Australian ships are not helping to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula in fact the opposite is true.  The newsletter goes on: ‘Jeju is being used for port visits by the ships that join frequent joint military exercises, which practice for war and thus make war more likely to happen.’

 

Australian Navy ships have stumbled into a situation where the reputation of Australia has been tarnished both by being labelled environmental vandals and war mongers.  Minister it is about time you reversed Australia’s attitude to the Korean Peninsula and take a more conciliatory approach which has been called the ‘freeze on freeze’ namely no military exercise no missile or nuclear bomb tests.  Work for a peace treaty in Korea not war.  Your present activities upsets both Koreas.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Australia’s Fascination with Violence

The Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC) and the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network NSW (IPAN NSW) profoundly oppose the PM’s statement on placing Australia among the top ten of arms exporters through its new arm export strategy.  We fully support and commend this statement by Professor Stuart Rees – Council for peace and justice Sydney University.

 

The Coalition government’s proposed $3.8 billion to subsidise arms manufacturers in order to boost Australian weapons sales, is part of a plan to move this country from 20th in the arms exports league table to 10th. The policy beggars belief. The government wallows in amoral attitudes fuelled by motives to bolster profits whatever the human costs.

 

A huge humanitarian and jobs creation opportunity has been missed. The Prime Minister could have said that he wanted to identify with the philosophy and practice of non- violence because that is the way to contribute to peace, in the Muddle East, in S.E. Asia and beyond. He could have said that he wanted to invest in carbon free energy policies because is the 21 sr century means of job creation.

 

In the United States, our faithful war mongering ally, President Trump has announced a $716 Billion US rise in the military budget. As part of our outdated, threadbare defence policy, we want to follow suit.

 

If Australia wanted to follow the example of any one country, it should be Norway. If Australia wants to promote peace instead of armed conflict,  members of the Australian Cabinet could spend valuable time in dialogue with members of the Norwegian Peace Prize Committee.

 

In global peace initiatives, Norway punches miles above its weight. By contrast Australia seems willing to foment conflict inYemen via support for the Saudis, in the Middle East by massive support for Israel and in West Papua by always accepting the violent, colonialist policies of the Indonesians.

 

A measure of commitment to a common humanity and to peace comes from measures of overseas aid provided by different governments. UN target is for each country to provide 0.7 %of gross national income (GNI) . Norway currently gives 1.11% of its GNI in overseas aid. Australia gives 0.22 % or one fifth of what Norway provides. In population Australia is about five times the size of Norway.

 

To compound the meanness and selfishness in our overseas aid contribution, the Prime Minister instead wants to spend more billions on the means of killing people. An opportunity for Australia to be committed to peace has been missed. The policy ‘let’s invest in violence’, ‘let’s support the  international arms trade’ sounds like a return to 19 th century gun boat diplomacy.

‘Let’s swagger on a world stage.’ The policy beggars belief.

 

Stuart Rees, Council for

Peace & Justice, University of Sydney.

15/2/18

Letter re Arms Trade

The Hon. Marise Payne,

Minister for Defence,

P.O. Box 6100,

Parliament House,

Canberra, 2600.

 

Dear Ms Payne,

 

As we approach, this year, the centenary of the cease fire of the war to end all wars it is disturbing to say the least that our government wants to remember the loss of sixty thousand lives with a massive programme for Australia to be a major armaments merchant. We believe that more taxpayer dollars should not be committed to the manufacture of weapons used in war. The $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility to assist arms industry companies wanting to find overseas markets serves only the forces that in fact brought us World War One.

 

In the spirit of the voices of over hundred years ago that called for world peace, Australia should be an independent voice seeking diplomatic and peaceful resolution of conflicts, not a country boosting the arms race and the profits of arms manufacturers who rely on the existence of conflicts. The doubling of military exports from Australia between 2013 and 2015 and a further 50% in 2015 and now the talk of further increases, is clearly not in the spirit of the mentioned forebears.

As you know the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty came into force in December 2014, and has 130 signatories, and 89 ratifications, including Australia’s.  As you know many Australians who have demonstrated on many occasions their opposition to arms trade fairs we hope you can acknowledge that they don’t want to go down the path of militarisation of society. Australia has a history of positive actions for peace internationally and whilst in recent decades this admirable record has been reversed we would ask that you join in dialogue with Australian peace groups, such as ours, to reassert Australia as a nation genuinely championing peace.

 

We would assert that it is not strong defence exports that will safeguard Australia against conflict, but strong and respectful relationships between Australia and countries in and outside our region.

Your Government’s assertion that arms exports will only be to countries where there are strict controls in place, is not borne out by current practice, for example where Australian firms have received contracts to supply Saudi Arabia with military equipment, despite the appalling human rights record in that country and its ongoing war on Yemen.

In this time of growing inequality in both the world and Australia our tax dollars would be better invested in areas such as health, education, transport, and import replacement initiatives that serve and develop local opportunities for the diverse regions of Australia.

 

The AABC along with other local peace groups believes our Government’s foreign policy should be focused on dialogue with and support for other countries to address the causes of war and offer resources to help create the conditions of peace - not actively promote measures which perpetuate war.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Denis Doherty

29/1/2018