Anti-AUKUS rally and march in Melbourne
Written by: Bill F. on 19 March 2023
In Melbourne on Saturday 18th March, twenty years after the criminal invasion of Iraq and in fierce summer heat, about 600 people gathered at the State Library with banners and leaflets denouncing the AUKUS deal and the gutless Australian government.
At the same time several hundred young people were attending another rally outside Parliament House against an ultra-right and neo-Nazi provocation to transgender people. Without this, even more would have joined the anti-AUKUS rally, but felt the need to challenge the fascists.
There were impressive speakers, and it was important to build the anti-war movement by encouraging broad representation of ideas as well as bringing information and analysis from well-regarded experts – Dave Sweeny (Australian Conservation Foundation), Margaret Beavis (Medical Association for the Prevention of War), John Lander (former Assistant Ambassador to China), Richard Tanter (Nautilus Foundation Melbourne University) Alexia Fuentes (Bayan Melbourne) and Kevin Bracken (MUA). Key points made during the speeches …
• AUKUS entrenches loss of sovereignty to the US
• AUKUS makes Pine Gap (Alice Springs) and Darwin targets in any US-China war
• US wants Australia as a base and launching pad for nuclear ships and bombers
• More US troops, ships and planes – here, and in the Philippines and Guam
• Enormous costs will come at the expense of social needs, housing, healthcare, disability supports, pensions,
• Union and community alarm at the war talk, with long-standing opposition to nuclear
The rally then marched through the main city streets, attracting a lot of attention with the many banners, placards and chants, such as “1-2-3-4, We don’t want another war! 5-6-7-8, We are not a US state!” and “No to AUKUS! No to war! No to nuclear on our shore!”
Free Julian Assange!
Other chants called for the release of Australian citizen Julian Assange, whistle-blower of the US Iraq War crimes. A short stop outside the British Consulate in Collins Street gave them the message also.
At Treasury Gardens the march joined more supporters of Julian Assange for further speeches by Iraq War journalist Dean Yates, military whistle-blower David McBride, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and a student activist.
Shirley Winton, one of organisers of the rally for the Peace Roundtable, summed up the sentiments of the anti-AUKUS campaign in her short speech.
“It is impossible to overstate the ongoing devastation that the US-led invasion of Iraq has inflicted on the people of that country. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other U.S. led wars across the world are a constant reminder to us that we must never give up to build and expand the people’s movement for peace and justice. We must unite, organise and mobilise in our hundreds of thousands to push back the new march to another US led war. This time in our region, and potentially a nuclear war.
“Nuclear submarines and the AUKUS war pact is accelerating the march to war between U.S. and China with devastating consequences for the people and the environment in Asia-Pacific.
“The US-led invasion of Iraq started as a big lie of weapons of “mass destruction”. Today, like 20 years ago, the media and their masters in the weapons and fossil fuel corporations, are carpet bombing us with lies that AUKUS and nuclear submarines will defend Australia and prevent war in the region.
“It couldn’t be further from truth. AUKUS war pact and nuclear submarines are instruments of wars of aggression against other countries. It will not defend Australia, but are making us a military target in the event of war breaking out between U.S. and China. AUKUS, nuclear submarines, B52 bombers carrying nuclear weapons, US and UK war warships (more than likely carrying nuclear weapons) will be in Australian ports permanently. The U.S. is turning Australia into a US military base, a launching pad for US wars. It has nothing to do with defending Australia, but only to protect and promote America’s economic hegemony in Asia-Pacific. China’s economic rise is threatening US global hegemony.
“AUKUS, nuclear submarines and the Force Posture Agreement allows the US to turn Australia into its major military base, a proxy in a war with China.
“AUKUS and the $368 billion for nuclear submarines that the Albanese government is buying with people’s taxes will only speed up the war preparations.
“It’s a blatant lie that $368 billion of people’s taxes is for the defence of Australia and to deter war. The Australian government is marching lock in step with US preparing to provoke and start war with China.
“It is incomprehensible that at a time of ongoing major crises in our chronically underfunded public health and education, rising homelessness, rents, the rising cost of housing for the majority, aged care, child care, social services, the cost of living: at a time of plunging wages and climate devastation, a so called progressive Labor government is throwing $400 billion of people’s taxes into helping to start a war on behalf of the U.S. against safety and security of people of Australia and the region. $368 billion of people’s taxes to prop up ailing US and UK economies, and fill the coffers of weapons and fossil fuel corporations with record profits.
“$368 billion used to throwing the people into an imperialist war.
“And to top it off conscription is now being floated!
“There’s nothing new in any of this. In 1914 hundreds of thousands of Australian workers were marched off thousands of miles away to fight for our masters, the plundering British colonial empire that colonised and slaughtered millions across the world. Little has changed today as Australian governments continue to sacrifice the people and national sovereignty, this time to the US.
“Paul Keating said the Australian government doesn’t have a foreign policy. What he really means is that Australia’s foreign policy is indistinguishable from US foreign policy. Australia needs an independent and peaceful foreign policy that’s not tied and subservient to any super power; not US, not Britain, not China.
“The same forces that cooked up the US led invasion of Iraq have not gone away, they continue to push the world into another war, this time in our region. The weapons corporations US Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, the British BOE, and the fossil fuel monopolies Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell are the main architects and profiteers from these wars. They make $trillions in profit from massive destruction, death and suffering by the people and environmental devastation.
“Soldiers, workers, the ordinary people and our environment pay a heavy price with lives, health, livelihood and destroyed environment. We are the casualties and collateral damage of big powers’ imperialist wars.
“And as long as these monopolies continue to stride the world, imperialist wars with all their devastation will continue to break out.
“And that is why we must build a long term and powerful people’s mass movement for peace, for justice, for clean and safe environment. As long as these forces continue to push for war the people must build and strengthen our forces for peace and justice.
“It is only powerful people’s movements that can secure peace, justice and protect the environment.
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Class Struggle and Socialism
Independence from Imperialism
People's Rights & Liberties
Community and Environment
Independence from Imperialism
People's Rights & Liberties
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