A peace vigil outside the Sydney electoral office of Anthony Albanese has urged the Prime Minister to scrap the controversial $368 billion AUKUS nuclear submarine deal.
As backlash grows among Labor organisations and trade unions, community groups continue to mount their opposition to the maligned trilateral defence contract with the US and UK.
Yesterday, members of the Marrickville Peace Group, which advocates for peace and organises vigils every month on a range of domestic and global issues, gathered outside the PM’s office in Marrickville Road.
“We’ve locked ourselves in [to this deal] and we’re subsidising the American defence industry in the process,” said Nick Deane, head of the Marrickville Peace Group, which organised the vigil.
He said AUKUS places Australia at a strategic disadvantage trying to “project power” which could lead to a confrontation with China.
“Why are we going down this track now?” he asked.
Man-up Albo… you’ve got a problem on your hands.
“The real threat to the nation’s security comes from the coming climate crisis. We haven’t seen anything yet [from the government]. We’re extremely concerned about what’s going on and it’s time for serious action.”
Saturday’s vigil comes just weeks after hundreds of protestors marched through Sydney to oppose Australia’s biggest military investment, which China has described as a NATO for the South Pacific.
Deane said he had written a number of letters to the Prime Minister via his office in Marrickville to register the concerns of community groups, ex-defence personnel and former labour party officials over Australia’s growing militarisation, antagonism towards China and its planned reliance on nuclear-powered submarines.
He urged the federal member for Grayndler to take up the opportunity to speak with his group and address these concerns.
“Man-up Albo,” he added.
“You’ve got a problem on your hands, face it and tell us how you’re going to deal with it because it’s not going to go away.”
— Pranav Harish (@pranavharish4) June 24, 2023
Deane was joined by several members of the group who set up placards and held up posters outside Albanese’s office.
Despite the modest gathering, it is reflective of a growing movement against the pact, which was signed without consultation of the public or the Labor party, to provide Australia with 11 nuclear-powered submarines by 2060.
“The AUKUS deal is [an] aggressive mechanism specifically against China,” said Peter Griffin who attended the vigil.
Griffin added that AUKUS was the complete opposite of engaging and developing diplomatic relations with China. He lamented Australia’s dependence on America, which he said is reflected in the federal government’s decision to swiftly ratify the deal.
“We’ve aligned ourselves with a hegemonic power which does not give us any room to move in terms of our own foreign policy,” he said.
“Australia has lost its identity, it’s lost its right to have a say about what it really wants and what it really needs.
“I think that’s the great tragedy which is going to play out over the next few decades.”
Former nurse Antoinette Riley said AUKUS was not in Australia’s national interest.
“This really doesn’t satisfy out commitment to the South Pacific,” she said, adding Australians had been dudded by the deal.
“The fact that they’re [submarines] not here until 2060… that money is not well spent at all,” she said.
“That $368 billion could be spent on… education, housing and health.”
Images by Pranav Harish. Main image, top, Peter Griffin and Nick Deane.