Students from the University of Sydney (USyd) held a speak out in front of the Vice Chancellor’s office at Eastern Avenue to protest Universities Australia (UA) support for the AUKUS military alliance.
It was also a response to UA CEO Catriona Jackson’s trip to Washington DC to negotiate Australian universities’ involvement in the development of the nuclear submarine deal.
Nick Deane, from Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition (SAAC) and Marrickville Peace Group, who addressed the protest quoted Jackson’s comments: “We are focused on upskilling the current workforce and training the next generation to support Australia's national security.”
Deane said, in reality, AUKUS is a very real and immediate danger to national security. “AUKUS, so very far from improving national security is more likely leading the nation down a path that has war as its destination.
“It has already antagonised China. It has already unsettled Indonesia and Malaysia and the island nations of the Pacific. It is straining relations with New Zealand … Ms Jackson can see the dollars that might come the way of universities through AUKUS.
“The hundreds of billions being set aside for AUKUS could be re-directed to real needs — to education, housing, hospitals, schools and welfare.
“It could come to the universities without them persuading themselves that they need to bow down before the military-industrial complex and the God of War,” Deane said.
Nick Riemer, USyd branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), said: “The NTEU is not in favour of war, of a reckless escalation of threats against China. We call on the Vice Chancellor of Sydney University, Mark Scott, to distance USyd from the stand taken by UA.
“Universities profess to be about social progress, not war. This turn toward the war machine is just an opportunistic race for funding, and we should all reject it outright,” Riemer said.
Other speakers included representatives of the USyd Student Representative Council and other campus organisations.
The chair urged everyone to become involved in anti-AUKUS and anti-war actions planned for Sydney and Port Kembla, including the May Day rally for peace, jobs and justice on May 6 at 12noon, Wentworth Street, Port Kembla.