Sydney’s anti-AUKUS coalition hosted a forum last Wednesday evening which discussed the government’s commitment to militarization and ways to rekindle an anti-war movement that opposes the establishment of nuclear relations with other other countries.
The Sydney Anti-AUKUS Coalition is an activist group formed following AUKUS’s announcement last year rejecting the Australian government’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines and the AUKUS pact.
USyd Chinese history professor David Brophy described the Labor Party as the one that ostensibly represents social democracy in Australia, and has stood with the liberals during this term towards confrontation, “AUKUS is the intensification of an Australian strategy to consolidate American dominance in Asia in the face of growing Chinese influence.
Similarly, NSW Greens Senator-elect David Shoebridge described AUKUS as an alliance that tied Australia to military procurement for years, and Australian taxpayers subsidizing the “US and UK military industrial complex” without knowing the cost. total that it would have on the economy. Recent cost estimates by the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy said AUKUS will likely be around $170 billion, which Shoebridge compared to the equivalent of the cost of “solving the national debt crisis eight times over.”
AUKUS intends to have eight submarines built by the American nuclear industry, which would fuel a “binary discussion in the Asia-Pacific region” where people would be asked to “choose a side between the United States or the China,” Shoebridge said. He called for Australia’s immediate withdrawal from the US plan to threaten China and redistribute funds to national priorities driven by economic and social insecurity.
The organizer of Anakbayan Sydney, a left-wing activist group dedicated to mobilizing Filipino youth, Patricia Arcilla, spoke about the long history of militarism between Australia and the Philippines.
“The military is so entrenched in relations with the Philippines and Australia that when Typhoon Hayan swept through the archipelago in 2013, Australia did not send aid workers; they sent the army,” Arcilla said.
Wendy*, a Chinese student activist and NTEU member, condemned the government’s prioritization of war over education. tertiary expenses came to $40.2 billion in 2020-21 according to Australian Bureau of Statistics dataa fraction of the $170 billion planned to finance the nuclear industry.
Wendy argued that the policy contributes to widespread anti-China sentiment.
“There is a fine line between being against the government and being against its people; a line that is repeatedly crossed in the current political climate,” they said.
The secretary of the Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Paul Keating, quoted the motto of the MUA “peace, unity in struggle and socialism” and argued that the struggle for the interests of the class worker requires civil disobedience.
Keating said MUA branches in Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla would not tolerate attempts to bring nuclear submarines into their ports and would bring a response to the streets through organized protests and strikes if necessary.
Shoebridge called for the need not to be silent on the issue of Australian militarization and the potential ramifications of future AUKUS promises; an arms race and a battle between rival geopolitical interests.
“This campaign can be won by applying a torch to the AUKUS deal in parliament and in the community, and building a grassroots movement in opposition to the nuclear arms deal,” he said.
* Denotes a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the source.