Peace activists challenge military base

Issue 

The third Swan Island Peace Convergence was held in Queenscliff, Victoria from September 22 to 26. About 50 peace activists from around the country converged in Queenscliff with the aim to blockade the top secret Swan Island Military Base.

The military base on Swan Island is used as a training facility for SAS troops, a special operations force of the Australian army. This includes troops involved in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

It is also a communications centre for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

Although the Julia Gillard government announced that Australian troops would be returning from Afghanistan home by the end of next year, Australia’s SAS troops will stay for at least another decade.

The Coalition has pledged to spend 2% of Australia’s GDP on defence, an increase in spending of $35 billion.

On September 24, peace activists managed to blockade the gate to the Swan Island Military Base, as well as two wharves, when it became apparent military workers were trying to boat across to the island.

On the morning of September 25, peace activists managed to open the gate and 17 people walked through in an attempt to cross the bridge and enter the military base. Twelve breached security and entered the base.

The police did not have the resources to detain those who were involved, however 15 activists have had their details taken and will await a summons to court where it is believed they will be charged with trespass.