Dear Minister Smith,
On International Day of Peace 2012, the Independent & Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) will be launched to promote an independent Australian foreign policy that builds peace and nonviolent resolution of conflict in our region.
We are opposed to the establishment of foreign military bases and the deployment of foreign troops in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
In particular, the network is opposed to the stationing of up to 2,500 US marines based in Darwin by 2016-17, the possible upgrading of Stirling Naval base, the stationing of US aircraft at RAAF Base Tindal and the militarisation of the Cocos Islands. We object to the increasing integration of Australian and US military forces.
We remain gravely concerned that this military build-up has enormous potential not only to damage relationships with our neighbours, but also to accelerate regional arms races and embroil us in further wars on behalf of a foreign power.
These developments are not in Australia’s national interest; US military posturing whether through containment or adventurism is a handicap in our relationships with trading partners, costing us in financial, social and environmental terms.
IPAN would rather see Australia have an independent foreign policy, based on good relationships with our neighbours and trading partners and for Australia to be proudly free to do what is best for our country and region.
Our network is comprised of non-government organisations, unions, churches and community groups seeking to promote democratic, transparent and participatory decision-making on Australia’s peace and security options.
We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you at your earliest convenience, and seek your advice on how our network can participate in the development of the forthcoming Defence White Paper.
Member organisations IPAN.
The organisations who have come together in IPAN have a range of concerns regarding an independent foreign and defence policy for Australia, for example
• Do Australians really want US aircraft carriers based in Perth, drones and surveillance aircraft operating from our territory in the Cocos Islands, US marines deployed in Darwin and US nuclear armed ships docking regularly in Brisbane?
• Will the basing of US troops in Darwin for 6 months of each year compromise Australian sovereignty and our relationships with other Asian countries,especially as it is a containment of China?
• Will the major communications and spying facilities operated by US forces in Australia, such as Pine Gap, Geraldton and North West Cape draw Australia inevitably into any conflicts in which the United States engages?.
• Is Australian involvement in the ANZUS Agreement really in the interests of Australian peoples, and likely to contribute to peaceful relations within the Asia-Pacific region?
• Will the increasing proliferation of smaller and more “useable” nuclear weapons make our region safer?
• How will the Trans Pacific Partnership reduce Australian government regulation of our foreign investment, our financial system and our health system?
• Do we want an Australian Government defence policy based on defence of Australia or on an offensive involvement in a US war with China?
The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network is a way for us to work collectively to address these concerns, as well as working with peoples of the Asia-Pacific countries to assist.