The Guardian 21 February, 2007

New US base increases danger

"We are appalled by the announcement that the Federal Government has secretly agreed to set up a new USA base at Geraldton, in WA", Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition National Coordinator Denis Doherty said.

The base, about 370km north of Perth, will control two of five geostationary satellites. It is to provide a critical link for a new network of military satellites to enhance US ability to wage wars in the Middle East and Asia. It will provide frontline troops with high quality intelligence information, graphics and maps. Building of the base may start within months.

Local authorities and citizens had no idea that the US base will be situated so close to Perth. They are justifiably concerned that the US base would make them a military target.

Their fears are shared by a visiting fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Philip Dorling. The Melbourne Age quoted him as saying that once operational, "it would be almost impossible for Australia to be fully neutral or stand back from any war in which the US was involved". Mr Dorling also pointed out that the base would present a military target.

The new American base will bring with it all the negative aspects of any US military base around the world — serious social and criminal problems. Mr Doherty said that "an Anglican Church report from Hobart details frequent sexual assaults on young men and women by US service people. US military assaulted Aborigines in Ipswich during 1997 war games and two US servicemen were tried for rape in Darwin in February 2004."

Australia is already locked into the US’s aggressive military activities through its other military facilities, in particular its communications and intelligence base at Pine Gap in South Australia.

The presence of US bases undermines Australia’s sovereignty and independence and harms our relations with our neighbours. It is not in Australia’s national interests to be seen as the US’s "deputy sheriff" for the region.

Even though there is no military threat to Australia, and yet the Coalition government spends $56 million every day on the military. This spending is focused on Australia’s role in the US’s war plans, very little of it has anything to do with the defence of Australia.

"How often do we hear the Coalition Government boast that it is a good economic and financial manager? It is not. It spends billions of dollars a year on creating fear and insecurity in the region and in preparation for more death and destruction on the US’s latest targets", said Mr Doherty.

"In the most recent budget the military got more money than education."

With just 10 percent of this military spending diverted to hospitals, the PBS, dental care, aged care and education many of Australia’s most pressing social needs could be solved, creating greater security for the people of Australia.

The cost to Australia and globally of such military expenditure cannot be measured in just dollars or even deaths and destruction of property. Weapons firing, bombings (real and in military games), pollution from military vehicles and planes and depleted uranium do untold environmental damage.

If Australia pursued a genuine defence policy based on an independent and peaceful foreign policy, the Asia-Pacific region would be a safer place and the billions of dollars freed up could not only be used to meet the present crises in health and education but also provide Australia’s Pacific neighbours with genuine assistance.

No new base at Geraldton and the closure of Pine Gap and other US military bases would be a good first step towards these ends.

Protest against US-Australian war games:

Over 20,000 US and Australian troops will gather in the Rockhampton area of Queensland between May and July 2007 for a series of war games.

The cost of the exercise will exceed $60 million.

But who will profit? Not the ordinary people of Australia but a few rich people associated with the US corporation Haliburton.

Who will pay the price of the war-fighting bill? The Australian people will: with higher taxes (already over $56 million every day), less security, a damaged environment and social disruption.

The Anti-Bases Campaign

The Anti-Bases Campaign is the Sydney centre for organising against TS07.

We will organise buses to travel to Rockhampton, a journey of about 22 hours. Once in Rockhampton, we will live in a caravan park for a few days. During our time there we will participate in actions against the exercises. All actions will be non-violent but are intended to raise awareness and to get the Australian people to ask the question: Why are we preparing for another Iraq?

Date of action

We will be in Rockhampton/Yeppoon area in the period for the weekend of June 21-22. If you are intending to come please leave the period June 19-25 free.

Please contact us for more information and/or help:

The Anti-Bases Campaign
PO Box A899 Sydney South, NSW 1235
Phone: (02) 9698 2954
mobile: 0418 290 663

Register your interest and your details to the mail or email address above:

Ø      I am interested

Ø      I want to be put on the TS07 mailing list

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