A public meeting on how to resist the AUKUS alliance and war with China drew around 60 people on June 15 to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) offices.
Organised by the Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition (SAAC), it heard from NSW Greens Senator David Shoebridge, Patricia Arcilla, organiser for Anakbayan Sydney, Chinese students Wendy and Levi and Paul Keating, MUA Sydney branch secretary.
Chairperson David Brophy said the AUKUS military pact is “an intensification of the government’s strategy to reinforce United States war policy in the Pacific, aimed clearly against China”.
Shoebridge criticised AUKUS for “tying this country into the US military complex for decades ahead”. He said the plan to acquire nuclear submarines as part of the deal is around $170 billion — the same amount needed to fix the national housing crisis eight times over! “This is not a defence pact: its intent is to have nuclear subs surrounding China. It means Australia will be enmeshed in the US government’s war policy against China indefinitely.”
Arcilla described the impact of Australia’s imperialist role in the Philippines over several decades. Australia is one of just two countries that have Visiting Forces Agreements with the Philippines; the other is the US.
Most recently, Australian troops have been helping the Philippines government in its war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao. As part of its aggressive policy in Asia, Australia has also trained and armed Filipino military and police.
Chinese student activist Wendy spoke about anti-Chinese racism and called for solidarity with Asian students against this harassment. Levi, another Chinese student activist, said that a war with China could only hurt the ordinary people of both countries.
Keating called for a bigger effort to “unite our forces in this campaign against AUKUS”. He said the Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla branches of the MUA have already resolved to “fight any attempt to bring nuclear subs into our ports”.
He recalled the 1938 Dalfram dispute, when waterside workers in Port Kembla refused to load pig iron bound for Japan, to be used to make weapons aimed against the Chinese.
He said the MUA will challenge employers who use anti-union laws against the workers taking action against the nuclear submarines. “There is now broad support among across the trade union movement against AUKUS and we need to build broad solidarity with the campaign to stop this aggressive war pact.”