AABCC Press Release 7 June 2004

Protests Promised Against New US Base

Peace activists have attacked the Federal Government's support for yet another United States military base in Australia and pledged to organise protests against the base if it goes ahead.

"Australia already has too many US military facilities on our soil. We do not want another one," Dr Hannah Middleton, spokesperson for the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC) said in response to Australian Defence Minister Hill's announcement in Singapore of an in principle agreement with the United States that could see thousands of US army and airforce personnel training in Australia.

"This will have major negative economic, social and environmental impacts without any benefits for Australia's defence and security," she said.

Senator Hill claims the new base will "enhance mutual capability, ensure interoperability and to assist a critically important ally". "This is simply Government spin for the gradual fusion of the Australian Defence Force into a de-facto arm of the United States military," Dr Middleton said.

"The decision is another step in the militarisation of Australia which we simply cannot afford. Australia's current military budget is already a staggering $55 million a day.

"At the same time Prime Minister Howard claims we cannot afford Medicare. Nor apparently can his government afford to upgrade public schools, cut university fees, support childcare, tackle poverty or create jobs.

Yet the diversion of only two weeks' military spending - about $600 million - to public hospitals would overcome most of their critical shortages," she said.

"The Governor of Okinawa has said the US bases on his island brought a major increase in the crime rate. It has increased levels of prostitution, drugs, alcoholism, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse of women and children and other social problems.

"The new base will lock up huge areas of our territory and contaminate it with unexploded ordnance.

"There are also major dangers of pollution from repairs and maintenance programs and from weapons firing," she continued.

"There is not a US military base in the world that has not resulted in soil and/or ground water contamination from toxic chemicals in munitions, fuel, paint and thinners, greases, heavy metals, acids, PCBs, oils and solvents.

"By signing up as a front line collaborator with the US military, the Howard Government is putting all Australians in danger.

"Australia does not have to be a cog in the US military machine. An independent, made-in-Australia policy for reduced military spending and respect for the sovereign rights of nations to independence, equality and self determination is a better way to defend Australia," Dr Middleton concluded.

For further information, please contact Dr Hannah Middleton on 0418 668 098
Denis Doherty, AABCC Co-ordinator on 0418 290 663