Activists ask US Marines to leave Darwin base

Peace activists outside the Robertson Barracks with the Give 'Em the Boot sculpture. Photo: IPAN.

More than 60 peace activists gathered outside the Robertson Barracks, which houses 2500 United States Marines, to ask them to leave on August 3 .

The action, which included asking the marines to share tea and biscuits, took place during the "Australia at the Cross Roads" conference organised by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN).

The barracks were set up under an agreement between the Australian and United States governments that lasts until 2040. 

Many activists joined the action in a hard-to-reach location. It followed months of negotiations between IPAN and US Marines officers. When those proved fruitless, an invitation was sent to the US commander in Darwin.

While this did not elicit a response, activists nevertheless came prepared with cake and Tim-Tams (which the marines are reputed to have a fondness for). They also brought a small sculpture — The Boot — which bore the names of the peace groups that want the US marines to leave. 

WA Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John, who also attended the conference, gave a well-received impromptu speech.

IPAN spokesperson Nick Deane said: "In the end, the Australian military police guarding the gate refused to convey any message, or our gift, to the marines. 

“But the humorous nature of the event did get through to the sergeant in charge, who was even seen to smile at the idea of us trying to give the marines The Boot.”

The Darwin-based Basewatch group has now become the custodian of The Boot, which may be brought back to Robertson Barracks in the future.

"The Give ‘Em the Boot! campaign found its feet outside Robertson Barracks last Saturday; from here it can dance on, one step at a time,” Dean said.

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