The Guardian 9 November, 2005
Notice to Quit Pine Gap
Pine Gap, 20 kms Southeast of Alice Springs, is one of the largest and most important United States war fighting and intelligence bases in the world. It is a satellite ground control station. It has been an important element of Star Wars for decades. It employs over 1,000 US and Australian personnel.
Established in 1968, it now consists of around 20 radomes working as satellite receiving stations for the various satellite programs such as reconnaissance and signals interception. Every branch of the US military as well as the National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency and the CIA are stationed at Pine Gap.
Pine Gap's most important role is processing information gathered by satellites and transmitting that information to the United States. The satellites span a strategically important third of the globe, encompassing China, southern Russia and the Middle East oil fields.
Pine Gap receives from satellites and forwards to the US early warning of missile launches. It also provides information on the launch site, missile type, velocity, and what kind of warhead the missile may carry, intelligence for US economic and military activities.
US satellites transmitting through Pine Gap monitor missile launches and military, economic, political and domestic telephone, microwave and VHF radio communications from allies and enemies alike.
They provide photographic surveillance of terrain, buildings, troop movements, the results of bombing raids, etc. The satellites can also intercept radar emanations, allowing mapping of air defences, anti-ballistic missile radars and early-warning radars.
The Australian parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has complained that MPs are kept in the dark about Pine Gap. Although members of the US Congress have visited Pine Gap and received classified briefings about its functions, the Treaties Committee is "entrusted with less information than can be found in a public library".
Pine Gap has been converted into a front-line base for the US "missile defence" (Star Wars) system. It has taken over the role of early detection of missiles and is integral to the change from the nearly obsolete DSP (Defence Support Program) satellites to the Space Based Infra-Red System (SBIRS), which is a key element in missile defence.
Missile defence is not a benign, defensive nuclear umbrella. It is a controversial space battle system which aims to allow the US to attack other countries without fear of retaliation.
In November this year the Federal Government can give three years' notice that it intends to terminate the agreement which permits Pine Gap to continue operating. A note from Foreign Minister Downer to the US Ambassador, dated June 4, 1988, says:
"I refer to the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America relating to the establishment of a Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap, done at Canberra on 9 December 1966, as amended and extended (hereinafter 'the Agreement').
"The Government of Australia proposes that the Agreement be extended for a period of ten years from 16 November 1998 and thereafter remain in force until terminated. The Government of Australia further proposes that after this extension has been in force for a period of seven years, either Government may at any time notify the other in writing that it desires to terminate the Agreement in which event the Agreement shall terminate three years after such notice has been given."
Between November 1 and November 21, fax, mail or phone the Government,
demanding that it give notice to terminate the agreement and close down Pine Gap.
Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill
Fax: 02 6273 4118. Tel: 02 6277 7800
Prime Minister, John Howard
Fax: 02 6273 4100. Tel: 02 6277 7700
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
Fax: 02 6273 4112. Tel: 02 6277 7500
House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600
The Federal Government has recently upgraded its "spam" system and they may well be able to quarantine our email messages. We therefore recommend that messages be faxed.
Let the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition know what you have done.
PO Box A899, Sydney South NSW 1235
Phone/fax 02 9698 2954
For more information visit: http://www.anti-bases.org