Media Release 14 July 2021
Australia’s largest warfighting exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 (TS21) will officially open today with a ceremony at Amberley RAAF Base, 50km east of Brisbane.
Though significantly down-sized due to the Covid pandemic, Talisman Sabre will see 17,000 US and Australian troops engaging in combined land, sea and air manoeuvres inland and along the Queensland coast. Key components of Talisman Sabre take place at Shoalwater Bay, north of Rockhampton, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Environmentalists and peace groups are alarmed at the ongoing use of these environmentally and culturally significant sites for warfare practice.
On June 22, the United Nations World Heritage Committee released a draft report on the state of the Great Barrier Reef announcing that it will recommend that the Great Barrier Reef be listed as “World Heritage in Danger” at its upcoming meeting in China. The Committee identified the need for greater commitment to “countering the effects of climate change, but also towards accelerating water quality improvement and land management measures.”
Talisman Sabre involves the use of US nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapons capable vessels, the practising of urban warfare, the use of high power sonar, amphibious assaults, parachuting and land force manoeuvres. Live firing, if not explicitly part of the exercise, is likely to occur either before or after the official dates.
These activities are incompatible with protection of the Reef.
This year, the ADF did not engage in a Public Environment Report process and has not publicly released environmental assessment for the areas in which Talisman Sabre will take place It did, however, Defence produced an environmental awareness information video for visiting troops which promotes the military use of the Great Barrier Reef.
The video reminds troops to consider the Reef and not to litter, a far cry from the active environmental management required to protect the vulnerable reef and incongruous with the dramatic messaging around live firing exercises in Shoalwater Bay in early June this year for Exercise Diamond Walk.
The objective of Talisman Sabre is to increase force inter-operability with the US, a military whose environmental footprint cannot be ignored. The US military is ranked among the world’s worst polluters and is the world’s greatest organisational consumer of oil. It has a legacy of leaving bases contaminated and radioactive. In 2013, the US jettisoned four bombs on the Great Barrier Reef when they had difficulty dropping them on their intended target, Townshend Island.
Talisman Sabre rotates with the RIMPAC exercises based out of Hawaii as the two major US-led combined forces training exercises in the Pacific. The Pacific Peace Network will be hosting a webinar during Talisman Sabre – on July 24 – to explore the impact of Talisman Sabre ongoing US military activity in the Pacific on Pacific communities.
US Alliance is the Cause of Deep Malaise inside the ADF, Says Cairns ‘Citizen Inspector’ arrested at U.S. warship as she fronts Magistrates Court
Cairns Citizens Inspector Margaret Pestorius will appear in Cairns Magistrates Court after she insisted she inspect the USS Green Bay, an operational warship which visited Cairns as part of Talisman Saber joint exercises.
Ms Pestorius said “Gimuy Peace Pilgrims wanted to know what this ship is doing so far from home. Is the Asia Pacific to be the next Middle East?”
“This week we saw in the ‘Afghan Files’, released by the ABC, how war under US command debases the ADF soldiers who were used by the US as spearhead killers. Used as killers, they became rogue, outside of rule of law,” said Ms Pestorius, a long time peace activist, and nonviolence teacher and commentator. Ms Pestorius, a member of Gimuy Peace Pilgrims is also facing charges in an Alice Springs Court for praying on the mountain next to Pine Gap, a US war-making facility. Peace Pilgrims are a set of spirit-led groups that oppose the militarizing of Australia.
“These dreadful issues outlined in the Afghan Files were the result of the US alliance. Talisman Saber, the exercises that this vessel was participating in, is the staging ground for this relationship.”
“And yet our leaders in Cairns, and those with blind folds, pretend that it is a fairy tale cruise ship on holidays.”
Former Australian Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating have both publicaly criticized the lack of an independent foreign policy for Australia and warned that it is not in Australian interests to be beholden to the US. “The US has no regard for the welfare of its allies. Frankly, the only ones to benefit from the US alliance are the US corporations that sell Australia weapons. Australians never benefit; Indigenous people never benefit; the US just re-militarise our land just like the British did during colonization in the Frontier Wars.”
“We are a citizen’s presence to say no to endless war and to question why these ships are in our neighbourhood. If we don’t ask, who will?”
For more information with video
Peace Movement Commentary on #theAfghanFiles at https://peaceconvergence.org/2017/07/15/sas-absorbed-toxic-us-military-culture/
Follow the Australian Peace Movement at @wagepeaceau or @ipausnet
Media Release 14 July 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Advocates for independent foreign policy protest Talisman Sabre war rehearsals.
The Talisman Sabre war rehearsals held at Shoalwater Bay, QLD, this month involve 33,000 US and Australian troops. The main purpose of the event is to improve “interoperability” between the two militaries.
Advocates have traveled to Rockhampton to protest the war rehearsals and the US-Australia military alliance it seeks to deepen.
In previous years advocates have trespassed onto the training ground during the live exercises. Quaker Grannies for Peace have blockaded an entrance with a tea party, inviting soldiers to sit with them for tea, lamingtons and negotiation.
Social worker and Catholic, Margaret Pestorius has been advocating for a more peaceful Australia since the first Talisman Sabre twelve years ago.
Pestorius says “Interoperability strategies ensure our military is dependant on US weapon systems. It is strategic for US weapons manufacturers. Not for citizens of Australia”.
“Australia can be a strong middle power in the world. A more independent foreign policy would allow us to develop positive ties that benefit us and the nations around us without being associated with the destruction of US led invasions and occupations.
“There is growing discomfort with the alliance. Since the last iteration of the training exercise, Trump has become president of the United States. Keating has joined Fraser and Whitlam in former Prime Ministers who oppose a close military alliance. And the gigantuan Chilcot report, slammed the US and allies for causing the destruction of the Iraq invasion in 2003 with deceptive ‘evidence’ inadequate for its justification.
“Every Australian wants to be safe. We are much safer without our military being dependant on one of two global superpowers, especially the one that has Trump at the wheel.
“What most Australians don’t understand about the US alliance, is there is no agreement between the two Nations that requires the US to come to our aid if we request it. It is not in the ANZUS treaty or any other legal document.
0403 214 422
Updates on Twitter
Media Release 13 July 2017
A cardboard effigy of U.S. President Donald Trump will burn at sunset
from 5.30 pm Sunday 16 July 2017
at Waru Community Gardens, Yeppoon
“As president, Donald Trump is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Which, because of the US military alliance and Australia’s vassal status in the US Empire, means he is commander in chief of the the Australian armed forces too,” said effigy maker, Graeme Dunstan.
“Presently the US military is using the Shoalwater Bay Military Exercise Area and elsewhere on Australian soil, to rehearse the Australian Defence Force for war with China. Our major trading partner. How crazy is that?”
“Our effigy during will be an opportunity for local people to gather and express their dissent to the toxic influences of the US Alliance on the Australian Defence Force and on our foreign policy generally,” said Mr Dunstan.
“At this time the Australian Special Forces Regiment is under investigation for its wanton murder in Afghanistan, where, like all the special forces units of the the Nato Coalition, it served under the command of US Special Operations Command.”
“There they absorbed and practiced the US military culture of abduction, torture and murder which was revealed in the scandals of Abu Grahib and Guantanamo Bay.”
“It is to be noted that not only has the Australian SAS have been degraded by this association. Similar charges have also been made, and similar investigations are currently underway, into the British and New Zealand SAS,” said Mr Dunstan
Long time peace activist Graeme Dunstan and his companion and long time anti-coal activist, Bec Horridge, have been artists in residence at Waru Community Gardens for the past week.
NB Graeme is a veteran who is willing to speak at length about the SAS positioning under US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and how this relationship has led to the disaster unfolding in the Afghan Papers.
US-led nuclear capable war games to commence in Queensland as UN bans nuclear weapons
As the sun rises on the UN historic treaty to ban nuclear weapons, US led nuclear weapons-capable military exercises commence in Australia: military exercise Talisman Saber starts today in Queensland, Australia.
Friends of the Earth and the Peace Convergence network are alarmed by the environmental, social and political impacts of Australia’s ongoing support for and involvement in US led nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapons-capable military activity in our region.
“The majority of the world’s nations have just spoken out,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Robin Taubenfeld, “owning, housing and supporting the use of nuclear weapons is not acceptable.
Yet, today we will see Australia flaunt its support for nuclear-weapons based warfare with the opening of Talisman Saber.”
Talisman Saber 2017 will see 33,000 military personnel (approximately 20,000 US, 13,000 Aussie with small contingents from Japan, New Zealand and Canada) engage in combined land, sea and air operations, amphibious landings, live firing of guns, missiles and torpedos, and parachute drops in some of Australia’s most pristine coastal regions – including the Great Barrier Reef.
Much of Talisman Saber takes place at Shoalwater Bay – just north of Rockhampton. The Shoalwater Bay Training Area encompasses protected wetlands and waters of the Great Barrier Reef. It has some of Australia’s most important seagrass beds and is a home to endangered sea turtles, dugongs and migrating whales.
Despite controversy surrounding government plans to expand the Shoalwater Training Area, this year Talisman Saber will include manoeuvres on public and private land at Stanage Bay – north of Shoalwater Bay – also designated protected as part of the Great Barrier Reef.
“The push to expand the military presence is disappointing,” Ms. Taubenfeld states. “Talisman Saber 2017 is huge in scale and already impacts on locations of global environmental significance.
No matter where these war games are conducted, however, US and Australian battle fleets conducting maritime surface to surface, surface to land and surface to air engagements will set off political alarm bells in our region.
We are at a crossroads. The world has spoken out about the use of and support for nuclear weapons. It’s time for Australia to disentangle itself from “diplomacy” based on the threat of the use-of-force. Stopping Talisman Saber would be a step in the right direction.”
Talisman Saber Open Day will be held at the Rockhampton Showgrounds today from 11.30am. Under the theme of “War is NOT Family Entertainment” concerned people will gather outside the front of the showgrounds distributing balloons and stickers with the message of peace.
For more information:
Friends of the Earth Brisbane: Robin Taubenfeld 0411 118 737
23 Feb. 2017
Avalon Airshow: Public Dissent Grows Around Lockheed Martin Monopoly in Australia
In the lead up to the 2017 Avalon Airshow, peace and anti-militarism groups including Quaker Grannies for Peace are expressing concern about the increasing infiltration of US weapons manufacturers in Australian foreign policy.
Quaker Grannies Dawn Joyce, Jo Valentine & Helen Bayes block entrance to Shoalwater Bay Training Area with lamingtons in July 2015.
“Quaker Grannies” donning vintage Quaker bonnets have been boldly speaking out about the grave social and environmental costs of war, and call for peace through international relations and by addressing social needs.
In regard to the Airshow, Quaker Granny Helen Bayes asks “What kind of message are we sending when a weapons display is promoted as entertainment?”
“Australians need to ask questions about the encroachment of the US military-industrial complex into Australian defence policy, politics, business, and even now, university life”.
Late last year Melbourne University signed a deal with Lockheed Martin for a $13 Million research facility, soon to begin construction. The Melbourne University Student Union has condemned the partnership, calling it “ethically dubious”.
The revolving door culture between Government and weapons industry notorious in the US is being mimicked on Australian shores. In June last year, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Kim Beazley joined the Australian board of Lockheed as Non-Executive Director.
A $17 Billion procurement of Lockheed Martin aircraft has been a subject of controversy and of scrutiny in the Senate.
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said in parliament “Australia’s planned acquisition of 72 F35A joint strike fighters stands out for its cost and time overruns and lack of a backup plan. When even US testing authorities are uncertain whether the aircraft will be fit for service, the basis for the enthusiasm shown by Australian defence officials—all documented in this report—deserves greater scrutiny.”
Deals with US weapons manufacturers are a key element of Australia’s military alliance with US, which has come into spotlight since the beginning of the Trump administration, with Paul Keating recently joining Fraser and Whitlam as former Prime Ministers who have called for a more independent foreign policy.
“We’ve got to this almost sort of crazy position now where the American alliance, instead of simply being a treaty where the United States is obliged to consult with us in the event of adverse strategic circumstances, it has now taken on a reverential, sacramental quality” says Keating in an interview late last year.
Helen Bayes: 0422 138 991
Meet Helen and supporters at 8:30am Tuesday 28 Feb at the gates of the Avalon Airshow, 80 Beach Rd Lara.