Mel Barnes, an activist with Wollongong Against War and Nukes (WAWAN), and Pip Hinman, Green Left editor and Sydney Anti-AUKUS Alliance activist were the panellists at a lively discussion about AUKUS and the vast sums being spent on a new war drive on May 16.
The “Money for climate, not war! No to AUKUS, nuclear subs” forum, organised by Green Left and Socialist Alliance, also focused on how to build the anti-war campaign.
Hinman said AUKUS aims to bring the West closer to a US-led war on China. “If it was to happen, this war could end the world — or at least make a large part uninhabitable.
“The US is by far the biggest military power in the world — three times bigger than China, whose economy is now approaching the size of the US,” Hinman said.
“It also has about 750 military bases in more than 80 countries, and a ring of bases surrounds China.”
She said Australia is fast becoming a more significant part of the military encirclement of China, and AUKUS is a part of this. “AUKUS shows Canberra is not being dragged by the US into a new war: it is willingly helping ensure the US maintains its power and privilege in the Asia-Pacific.”
Barnes explained the origins of the Illawarra-based WAWAN, which is campaigning to prevent a nuclear submarine base from being built at Port Kembla.
“Port Kembla is a terrible place for a nuclear base,” Barnes said. Any nuclear submarine base would end the existing maritime industry, she said, adding, “Port Kembla is also the centre for a planned renewable energy hub”.
“We don’t want to wait until it’s a ‘done deal’. We want to build a strong community campaign that says we don’t want a military base in our town, nor should any community have one [foisted on to it].”
Both speakers said the May Day march in Port Kembla on May 6 marked the beginning of a new broad-based campaign which had the potential to unite unions, environmental groups and others against AUKUS, the nuclear submarines, the nuclear waste generated from the energy and the war drive against China.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden will now not come to Sydney for the Quad, ostensibly because of the US budget crisis. However, the US, Japan, India and Australia may meet on the fringes of the G7 meeting in Japan over May 20–21.
[The Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition is going ahead with an anti-Quad protest on May 24, 5.30pm at Sydney Town Hall.]