Rally protests arms and navy build-up

October 11, 2013
International Fleet Review
International Fleet Review.

The Pacific2013 arms fair and the International Fleet Review in Sydney Darling Harbour on October 7 were met by anti-war protests from locals.

The arms fair was held in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre while the centenary of Royal Australia Navy’s first visit to Sydney was celebrated in the harbour.

Rally organiser, the Australian Anti-Bases Coalition and the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (NSW), said: "Much of the $153 [billion] earmarked by government for an 85 per cent upgrade of ADF [Australian Defence Force] equipment and weaponry is to fund an unprecedented increase in our naval power. The shopping list includes: 12 submarines at a cost of $25bn; four air-warfare destroyers at $6bn; and 24 helicopters at $3bn …

"Such over-priced, over-sophisticated procurements will make us poorer, not safer. We need to decrease, not increase, Australia's already exorbitant military spending of $68m every day.

"Why oppose PACIFIC2013? Because it is an arms bazaar ... Exhibitors will include many of the huge arms corporations like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Thales, who profit from death and destruction. Australian state and federal governments are PACIFIC2013 sponsors and participants.

"We do not need an arms bazaar to promote aggressive naval acquisitions and activities, especially at a time when tensions are rising in the region due to the US 'pivot' to Asia.

"We do not need a regional arms race. We need confidence building and peace to help grow a sustainable economy in Australia and the region, ensuring a rising quality of life in our and our neighbours' communities."

Speakers at the rally called for cuts to Australian military spending, to help fund jobs in education, health and welfare. Participants handed out information leaflets to passing crowds, explaining the purpose of the protest.

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