Military 'tourism' to strike Great Barrier Reef

Issue 

In June, Australia will host the largest military exercises ever undertaken in peacetime. Talisman Sabre 07 will involve 12,400 Australian and 13,700 US troops converging on various locations for their biennial "war games".

The heart of the exercise will take place in Shoalwater Bay, north of Yeppoon. This 454,500 hectare area is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and sits adjacent to a significant Ramsar wetland area and the Byfield National Park.

Concerned citizens from around the country are planning a Peace Convergence at Yeppoon from June 18-24. In stark contrast to the war games, this will be a non-violent gathering to oppose the shock and awe devastation of the two militaries.

Shoalwater Bay is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it is also of vital importance to many endangered species and critical habitats.

In 2005, the Australian government entered an agreement that provided the US long-term access to, and joint use of, Shoalwater Bay Training Area. This agreement ties Australia to the rapid military build-up taking place in the north-west Pacific, particularly in Guam. The Talisman Sabre exercise is a result of this agreement.

Shoalwater Bay is one of the Pentagon's largest and most important training areas and bombing ranges in the Asia-Pacific region. There has been no disclosure of the terms of these agreements or what weaponry will be used in military exercises. The exercises will include live firing and bombing, underwater detonations, the latest laser guided missiles and "smart" bombs, ship to shore bombing runs, bombing from US bases in Guam, land-based artillery firings, nuclear powered submarines using high-level sonar frequency and nuclear weapons capable vessels and planes. There are no contingency plans for nuclear accidents.

[For further information contact David Bradbury on 0409 925 469 or email <ffilms@mullum.com.au>. For a full environmental critique visit <http://www.peaceconvergence.com/environment.html>. To find out more about Australia's role in the increasing militarisation of the north-west Pacific visit <http://www.peaceconvergence.com/military.html>.]