Wednesday 24th of April 2024

the marrickville maulers.....

Community opposition to the AUKUS project finds expression in a Sydney suburb.

Back in March 2023, a public meeting was held in the Town Hall of the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, under the title “Can War be Avoided or Will Our Peace be Shattered?”. That meeting took place just a few days after the AUKUS agreement was finalised in San Diego, California. It was very well-attended, demonstrating strong opposition to the AUKUS project among members of the general public. The location of the meeting (just a stone’s throw from Prime Minister Albanese’s local office) gave it particular resonance.


Mobilising opposition to AUKUS – The Marrickville Declaration    By Nick Deane


Building on the strength of feeling displayed in 2023, AUKUS has recently been the topic of discussion in Marrickville, again. A meeting there on February 3 brought representatives of more than 30 community groups together, for the purpose of discussing AUKUS and mobilising and encouraging public opposition to it. The groups were drawn from Sydney and surrounding areas, including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong. The irony of meeting in the PM’s own Grayndler electorate did not go unnoticed.

Those present shared their many concerns. Whilst there were various, differing reasons for doing so, the consensus reached was that AUKUS is entirely contrary to Australia’s best interests, so deserves concerted opposition.

Amongst the reasons expressed was the fact that some do not even recognise the term “AUKUS”. Information about what is in the AUKUS agreement is not widely known, and ordinary people have few details about its many implications for them. Most Australians remain unaware of the risks and dangers that it brings. At the meeting, this was blamed on the government’s obsessive secrecy about the project.

To capture the meetings feelings, a resolution was passed unanimously. That resolution is now being carried forward as “The Marrickville Declaration”. It summarises the concerns of the groups who joined the meeting and indicates their resolve to campaign actively against it.

The meeting formed a committee to mobilise opposition to AUKUS and war. It sees itself as the Sydney-based arm of a developing, national campaign, aimed at bringing about the abandonment the AUKUS project and movement towards a peaceful and independent future.

The Marrickville Declaration.

Signatories to the Marrickville Declaration will work together to keep Australia out of war and stop preparation for war, through campaigning for an end to AUKUS. The huge public spend on nuclear submarines, and the open-ended commitment to foreign military priorities, are to the detriment of addressing urgent community and social needs and priorities for a resilient, safe and peaceful Australian society.

We agree that the AUKUS agreement has grave significance for Australia because:

  • it leads the nation away from peace by preparing it for war;
  • it creates enemies, where Australia should have none; 
  • its exorbitant cost takes funds away from much-needed social programs; 
  • it has opened the way for an arms race in the Asian region;
  • much of its detail that should be in the public domain remains secret and unavailable to the public;
  • it endangers Australia and jeopardises our security through making us a nuclear target, positioning us as an enemy of countries with which we should be maintaining good working relations, and through the risk of nuclear contamination;
  • it makes Australia complicit in the deployment of weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and conventional, the use of which will be inevitably directed largely at civilian populations and infrastructure;
  • it is an affront to Australia’s Pacific neighbours and our commitment to a nuclear free Pacific under the Treaty of Rarotonga (the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty);
  • it critically detracts from the need for climate action, global warming being our real security threat, and
  • it would impose high level nuclear waste dumping on the lands of First Nations Peoples.

We conclude that AUKUS is entirely contrary to the interests of the Australian nation and its people.

We therefore resolve to:

  • oppose AUKUS through all non-violent means available; 
  • initiate a concerted campaign with the objective of stopping the whole AUKUS agreement; 
  • open this campaign to all individuals and organisations sharing this objective, and
  • promote peace, instead of encouraging preparation for war.

We call on the Australian government to:

  • provide to the public full details of the AUKUS agreement, as it stands, including its scope, ramifications, timing and cost, and
  • initiate a thorough investigation into appropriate ways for ensuring national security, including through the development of a truly independent foreign and military policy.



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planning for the past....

Defence Minister Richard Marles is hoping today’s announcement about the restructuring of the Royal Australian Navy will keep us all feeling happy and safe. Rex Patrick warns a lot of caution is required.

On 16 September 2021 then Prime Minister Scott “from marketing” Morrison used his AUKUS announcement to bury the fact he was cancelling the troubled Attack Class submarine program – years wasted and $3B shredded. Today Defence Minister Richard Marles used the thrill of new purchases to bury the fact that Navy procurement is still an utter shambles.

After today’s announcement, we’ll see our navy moving forward as follows.


There was no new announcement on our submarines; the status quo remains.

Our sailors will be sent to sea for the next decade on six aging Collins Class submarines that were supposed to retire in 2026. The life-of-type extension planned to keep them going will cost the taxpayer more than $6B dollars.

Sometime in the mid-2030s, if we can get the United States Congress to match Prime Minister Albanese’s $US5B submarine industry support donation (which Congress declined to match last week), and if isolationist and erratic Donald Trump doesn’t get elected, we’ll have the first of three Virginia Class submarines appear alongside a naval base in WA.

That’s the initial deal – if it happens. A decade will pass, and we might get some US-built vessels at full price plus a $5B sweetener. No significant Australian industry involvement in construction. Apparently, no refund if it all falls over.

We’ll then switch from the highly capable Virginia Class submarine to an unknown and unbuilt new design, the AUKUS-SSN, developed by the UK’s shipbuilding industry that has persistently been late and over budget on naval construction.

Air warfare destroyers

According to Marles, upgraded air defence and strike capability will be procured for our three Air Warfare Destroyers, but apart from that, it’s status quo.

The Government did announce that it will announce the Air Warfare Destroyer replacement program in the future.

Future frigates

There will be a reduction in the number of future frigates from nine to six, simultaneously raising the unit cost of the ships (assuming the budget remains at $45B for each of these ships, the price has gone from $5B per vessel to $7B per vessel) while reducing our anti-submarine capability, at a time when we have a record number of submarines in our region, with that threat only likely to grow further.

Whilst we’re buying nuclear submarines to station off ports in China, the Chinese Navy already has nuclear submarines to station off Sydney heads and Rottnest Island near Perth. The Chinese submarine commander’s job just got a bit easier today.

General purpose frigates

The one positive announcement from today is the procurement of 11 general-purpose frigates, though the term corvette might be more appropriate for these smallish vessels.

There was little detail in the announcement today, but It’s reasonable to assume that Defence will eventually select some design of a ship that has not been fielded and try to load it up with ‘RAN special sauce’, an approach that added risk and guaranteed that future frigates blew out in cost and schedule.

The first three of these vessels look to be built overseas. That’s Australian jobs exported.

‘Optionally Crewed Surface Vessels’

The media loves novelty, and today’s announcement was loaded up with an exciting new element: six “Large Optionally Crewed Surface Vessels”. Cynics might think that these ships might be a solution to the Navy’s chronic recruitment and retention problems, and fielding autonomous platforms might help with that.

However, the thing to understand is that this is another ambitious venture into new and largely untried technology when the Navy and Defence really can’t afford another major project failure. Perhaps these still drawing board concept boats might be great, but one would want to see a lot more detail before seeing this as an assured capability that will be delivered on time and on budget.

Offshore patrol vessels

If you haven’t heard of the OPVs, these are vessels slightly larger than a patrol boat which the Navy decided to build 12 of. A construction contract was signed in 2018 and we still don’t have an operational vessel available to Navy use.

That’s correct; in the time it took for World War II to start and then end, we haven’t been able to build and commission one patrol vessel into the Navy.

The Government has cut the build number in half to 6.

The real problem left unsolved

Defence Minister Richard Marles left the Naval shipbuilding capability issue unsolved today; the “always choose something special and untested” problem.

He should have been looking through the track record of failure, of massive cost blow-outs, protracted delay and abrupt cancellations, to find a real fix necessary to solve the Navy’s (and Army and Air Force’s) woes.

Defence has consistently failed to manage project risk, taxpayers have been picking up the tab on every occasion.





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The failed test of a Trident missile from a Royal Navy submarine has led to a wave of ridicule in global media.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps was among those on board the HMS Vanguard when the incident happened off the coast of Florida last month.

After news of the failed test leaked, Russian media wasted little time in mocking the UK over the incident.

"Nobody was hurt, apart from the Royal Navy's reputation," said Rossiya 1's main news bulletin on Wednesday.


The host of the top TV channel's 60 Minutes talk show, Olga Skabeyeva, said earlier in the day that "an attempt by the Royal Navy of formerly Great Britain - now we call it little Britain - to demonstrate its power ended in failure".

And Alexander Kots, the star war correspondent of Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, said on his Telegram channel that the incident "once again underscores that Great Britain has finally lost its status of 'ruler of the waves'".


In China, Xinhua news agency's website ran an article with the headline: "British Navy botches test: Missile crashes into the sea with a 'thud', nuclear submarine hovering underwater".

The website of China's state-run nationalist newspaper the Global Times went further. "Embarrassing! Royal Navy nuclear submarine Trident II missile fails for a second time in a row," its headline said.







honouring scomo...

Everyone gets the joke about the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre in Malvern, a suburb of Melbourne.

Surely, we scoff, it’s poor taste to name a pool after the only prime minister thought to have drowned while in office, in tumultuous seas at Portsea.

But the Harold Holt Pool is part of a rich tradition in this country of remembering former prime ministers in inappropriate ways. We choose monuments that sit strangely at odds with the person they commemorate.







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It never pays to be too sorry for politicians. They’re all volunteers, they’re well paid for what they do, and even the nicest of them have thrust themselves ahead of many others to get as far as they have.

But I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Anthony Albanese. He got himself elected by promising not to change much, but I doubt he expected to be handed quite such a cowpat sandwich from the smirking Scott Morrison.