Protests planned for Talisman Sabre '07


From the end of May to July 2, the largest military training exercise in Australian history will take place, involving 14,000 US and 12,000 Australian military personnel. The Talisman Sabre '07 war games will be held at joint US-Australian "training facilities" — Shoalwater Bay in Queensland and Bradshaw and Delamere Range in the Northern Territory.

US and Australian troops will train for counterinsurgency warfare such as the two countries are currently conducting in Iraq and Afghanistan, while their warplanes will practice bombing runs on the nearby Barrier Reef marine park.

Talisman Sabre '07 will involve US nuclear-powered naval vessels, which may also be carrying nuclear weapons, as well as depleted uranium munitions.

A week of protest action against these war games is being planned at the military base in Shoalwater Bay from June 16 to June 25.

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition will be holding a protest at the offices of the defence department (270 Pitt Street) on June 15, and organising a bus to leave on June 21 for the Shoalwater Bay "peace convergence". To book a seat on the bus (which returns to Sydney on June 25), phone Paddy on 0415 800 586 or email

"The prosecution's aim is to argue that what the terror base does is irrelevant, and all that matters is our physical presence on a specific piece of land at a particular time established by the Commonwealth Police present. Nothing else has relevance.

"On 21 March, at a pre-trial hearing on our application for discovery of defence department documents, there were six lawyers, including a QC and more junior counsel for the prosecution (the crown) and the government (the Commonwealth). We are up against it.

"We need to 'prove' that our beliefs about what Pine Gap does are 'reasonable'.

"Their line is that we defendants don't really 'know' anything about Pine Gap — because it's secret. The Commonwealth asserts that we can't even use parliamentary reports to show our sources of knowledge (parliamentary reports, they say, are privileged). Thus everything we say is mere 'rumour', and can't be used in evidence.

"Our immediate and major goal on 29 May is to get information before the jury and before the various publics that sets out the nature and function of Pine Gap as an instrument of illegal aggressive war. Our task is to expose truth and let people make their own decisions."