No AUKUS – National Day of Actions 11-12 December 2020
This Introductory speech was given by Shirley Winton
Thank you all for joining the Melbourne rally to oppose AUKUS, Nuclear Submarines and the march to war. We appreciate the difficulties attending this rally during the pandemic in Melbourne. We’ve received apologies from a number of people cautious about attending. As some of you know, last night’s rally organised by Renegade Activists had been cancelled last minute as one of the organisers received a positive Covid result 2 hours before the rally was due to start.
My name is Shirley Winton. I represent Independent and Peaceful Australia Network and Spirit of Eureka, just two of many other organisations organising National Day of Actions against AUKUS across the country.
This rally is on the stolen lands of the Wurundjeri people, their country never ceded. We pay our respects to the First Nations people, their culture, traditions, and their elders, past present and emerging. We stand in solidarity with the First Nations people’s struggles for justice and genuine sovereignty.
Our speakers are: Scott Ludlum (former Greens Senator); Jenny Grounds (Medical Association for Prevention of War); Dave Sweeney (ACF nuclear campaigns co-ordinator) who is also the MC of this rally; David Ball (MUA-Victoria); Charlie Joyce (Melbourne University student), and representatives from IPAN, MUPCM, Pax Christi, Philippines Caucus for Peace, CICD. Apologies from Colin Long, (representing Victorian Trades Hall Council) who was urgently called away last minute due illness in the family. The rally has been endorsed by all of the orgs. above, and also Australian Nursing and Midwife Federation – Victoria, and Renegade Activists
Before I introduce Dave Sweeney to MC the main part of the meeting, I will say a few words on behalf of IPAN and SoE.
This weekend hundreds of Australians are rallying around the country calling on the government to withdraw from the aggressive AUKUS military pact, nuclear submarines and war. This spontaneous nationwide people’s movement from Brisbane to Hobart, Melbourne to Perth, in almost every major city and some regional centres, has brought together and united people from all walks of life, from peace, environment, anti-nuclear groups, unions, faith and community organisations, to send one simple message – NO AUKUS, NO Nuclear Submarines NO to WAR. Yes to Peace, Safer Climate, Health and Sustainable Jobs.
AUKUS is an aggressive military pact between Australia, United Kingdom and the U.S. to enforce and extend the U.S. domination and militarisation of Asia Pacific, leading to a war between big powers in this region.
AUKUS is magnifying major problems facing Australian people today – the escalating march to imperialist war (possibly nuclear war), destruction of the environment and climate crisis, safe and sustainable jobs for the working people; prioritising public expenditure on imperialist war over the crisis of Covid pandemic and healthcare of the people; and the rights of the Australian people to be independent and make decisions about what sort of country we want to live in, not the decisions made for us by the US, its profiteering weapons corporations and subservient US lackeys in Australian parliament.
US nuclear submarines and the just announced purchase of new US helicopters to replace Australian helicopters has nothing to do with defending Australia, but only to more deeply integrate Australia within the US war machine and its global wars; ensuring Australia will follow the US wherever it starts imperialist war. This is what AUKUS is about – integrating Australia into US preparations for war with China and opening the door to nuclear industry and nuclear weapons in Australia and a radioactive waste dump.
Nuclear submarines and the new US helicopters will cost hundreds of billions in taxpayers’ money, which are urgently needed for public health, measures to control the pandemic and protect the people; the environment and climate crisis; funding for public education; affordable housing and secure and sustainable jobs.
We want independence from all big powers. We want our country prioritising public health, education, affordable housing, looks after all the people, including the refugees. We want a country that seriously and urgently deals with climate crisis, a country that creates sustainable and secure jobs for all working people; we want a country where homelessness and poverty are abolished, a country with a just treaty with the First People, a country that promotes global peace and justice. A country where the people have the power to make decisions on what is in the best interests and needs of the majority, not the dictates of a tiny 1% of foreign and local corporations (eg Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE, etc.) That’s what 90 % of the people want this country to be.
AUKUS is deepening and entrenching Australia’s subservience to the US accelerating the march to war in our region. Greg Barns, democratic rights lawyer couldn’t have put it better when he said, “never underestimate the level of obsequiousness of Canberra towards the Washington empire.” Helen Caldicott, the long time anti-nuclear activist said AUKUS has shown that Australia was practically a 51st U.S. state. The treatment of Julian Assange by the Australian government at the behest of the US. Is nothing short of the betrayal of the Australian people and our sovereignty.
We will build a united people’s movement against war, nuclear weapons and for an independent Australia.
Now I’ll hand over to Dave Sweeney who has generously agreed to MC the meeting.
Dave is long time nuclear free activist. He is a co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and leads the Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear free work. Thank you Dave.