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Greens converging for peace demand a shift in funding priorities

23 June 2007 - The Australian Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland, Larissa Waters, will be attending the Peace Convergence gathering at Shoalwater Bay against the US-Australian joint military exercises ‘Talisman Saber 2007’ this weekend.

On Saturday evening, she will tell the crowd that wetlands are not for war games, that the more pressing threat we face is climate change not terrorism, and that peace is rarely achieved through militarisation.

“Australia’s Defence budget dwarfs by orders of magnitude the amount the government has allocated to addressing the real threat facing Australia, which is climate change.

“Just two days ago the Defence Minister announced he would spend $11 billion on five new warships, which the ALP supported.

“The government’s priorities are fundamentally wrong, when many families are struggling with the growing gap between rich and poor, and many indigenous communities don’t have access to basic health care and education.

“The Greens believe that practicing war is the wrong way to bring about a peaceful future.

“Australians deserve an independent foreign and defence policy that best serves our long term interests and those of our region. We are not more safe by being Bush’s lackey.

“The trillions of dollars now being thrown into the ‘war against terror’ would be more effectively spent helping desperately poor nations create stable and sustainable democracies.

“People are right to be worried about the impact of 20,000 US military personnel in nuclear submarines, jet fighters and war ships bombing the fragile coastline of Australia within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and an internationally significant wetland.

“The Defence Department’s own environment report acknowledges risks of harm to whales and dolphins from the use of sonar, disturbance to seagrasses, dugongs and green turtles by vessels, the introduction of weeds and pests, the likelihood of waste disposal overboard, and threat to wildlife and flora from being hit or burnt by fires started by live fire and munitions.”

“Although the Department of Defence claims that depleted uranium will not be used in the exercises, the US is permitted to carry the deadly ammunition on their nuclear powered ships.

“It is highly likely that this deadly substance, with lasting impacts on environmental and human health is now on our shores, within our pristine environmental areas. If there is any accidental use of it, the safety of our troops and our precious Reef and wetlands are at risk.

“Wetlands are not for war games, Mr Howard” concluded Ms Waters.

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