Over 10% of the population of Yepoon, in central Queensland, rallied on August 1 against plans for a joint US-Australia military "training centre" in nearby Shoalwater Bay.
Hundreds of people took to the town centre to demand that details be released of the agreement signed by defence minister Robert Hill in Washington on July 7.
Protest organiser Peter Murray told Green Left Weekly that many protesters were sceptical of Hill's statements two days before the rally that the "training centres" would not be permanent US bases. A July 5 media release from Hill's office tried to allay community concerns, declaring that "the US is not seeking to base forces in Australia and the US has made no request to pre-position training equipment in Australia".
Murray believes that Hill's refusal to reveal detail of the agreement when questioned in the Senate by the Democrats' John Cherry indicates that the government "obviously has something to hide". Hill's refusal to rule out the use of nuclear-powered ships during joint training exercises has furthered suspicions.
The campaign is also stepping up in Darwin against the "training centres" — two of which will be located in the NT. Plans are underway for a month of protest action in October.
From Green Left Weekly, August 11, 2004.
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