Merri-bek City Councillors Sue Bolton and Monica Harte organised a community protest on July 15 against the $368 billion AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines.
More than 200 people joined in, and the Riff Raff Radical Marching Band made it super lively.
The Victorian branches of the Australian Services Union, the Maritime Union of Australia and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union Construction & General Division endorsed the protest, as did several climate justice groups.
The protesters demanded that the billions be instead invested in housing, healthcare and climate action.
Bolton, from Socialist Alliance and Harte, an independent, led a successful motion in council in April declaring Merri-bek remains nuclear-free and opposing the AUKUS deal.
The rally highlighted the link between militarism’s dangerous impacts on the climate. Scientists for Global Responsibility said in 2020 that the world’s combined militaries and weapons’ manufacturers contribute an estimated 6% of global carbon emissions, and militarism has only increased since.
Speakers addressed different concerns about AUKUS, including its impact on workers.
Sanne de Swart from the Friends of the Earth Nuclear Free Collective said AUKUS is an example of an “international project that will be used as an excuse to enforce a nuclear waste dump on traditional owner’s land”.
“It’s not going be in Brunswick; it’s not going be in Anthony Albanese’s backyard; it’s going be close to where Aboriginal communities and traditional owners live.”
Bolton spoke against the government propaganda which paints China as a “military threat” to Australia. “China does not represent a military threat; it is an economic competitor to the United States.”
Korean peace activist Joon Shik Shin extended his solidarity and said we need to grow the global movement to oppose US militarism.
Greens MP Tim Read said Labor’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines runs the risk of driving an arms race in the region. “High tech-weapons sailing around our near neighbors will provoke them to want to get something like that.”
The protest marched from Wilson Avenue before stopping at the Brunswick Town Hall.
[Help out the anti-AUKUS campaign in Merri-bek by getting in touch with Councillor Sue Bolton here.]