Protesters take aim at war industry, nuclear subs

April 5, 2023
Peace activists protest against the war drive in North Wollongong. Photos: Ray Acheson

About 100 people protested outside the Novotel Hotel in North Wollongong against the war industry on April 4 chanting “No nuclear subs base!” and “Oppose the drive to war!”.

Wollongong Against War and Nukes (WAWAN) called the rally to oppose the federal government's 10-year strategy focused on a new “Defence Industry Alliance”.

Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite told WIN TV News there would be “a whole lot of opportunities” for “local businesses in this region to partner with Defence around manufacturing, skills development and education and around innovation”.

Ray Acheson, from the New York-based peace group Reaching Critical Will, said: “This conference is not about defence; it’s about militarism. In the US, the weapons industry dominates the political establishment.

“The United States has more than 750 military bases around the world, and has launched wars in over 25 countries since 2001. The proposed Port Kembla nuclear sub base is essentially a US war base.

“This base must not be built. We need to organise to stop it.”

Alison Broinowski, from Australians for War Powers Reform, said: “We’re here to object to AUKUS and the whole war industry. AUKUS is all about the US military agenda in Asia.

“This base is going to be just like the US military bases in the Philippines. Now, protests against AUKUS are beginning to break out all over Australia.

“The government is starting to get nervous, which explains why they keep changing the rationale about AUKUS and nuclear subs. We need to build a strong movement to stop this disastrous plan.”

Richard Broinowski said: “We face an existential problem over AUKUS. The US is pressing Australia to join in even more deeply with their war plans. The only purpose of the nuclear subs is for war against China. But we need to build our security within the region, not against the region.

“Right now, grassroots support for the movement against AUKUS is gaining ground all around Australia.”

Martin Cubby, from the Wollongong University National Tertiary Education Union, said: “Staff and students at our uni are horrified at the prospect of nuclear submarines in our port.

“We want to make Wollongong into a renewables city, but well-funded, powerful forces want to see a nuclear sub base in Port Kembla.” He called for support for a May Day demonstration on May 6 in Port Kembla “to show our united opposition to this war drive”.

WAWAN protest chair Alexander Brown urged protesters to get involved and attend a Stop the Subs meeting on April 29.

Gem Romuld, from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Lil Barto, from Wage Peace, Disrupt War, also spoke. Maurie Mulheron and the Illawarra Union Choir provided protest music.

[Wollongong Against War and Nukes is holding a meeting on April 29 at 2pm at the Port Kembla Community Centre, Wollongong.]

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