Protests against AUKUS and Labor’s Defence Strategy

Source: Pearls and Irritations. Click to enlarge.

The area outside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s office in Marrickville, Sydney is rapidly becoming a regular meeting place for people wanting to express their concerns about key aspects of the Labor government’s policies.

Supporters of Julian Assange gather there every Thursday between 11.00am and 12.00pm.

On Saturday May 27, 2023 the Marrickville Peace Group (MPG) held its first ‘Peace Vigil’ outside the PM’s office which is scheduled to become a monthly event.

The vigil mostly attracted people from the Inner West, however a couple had travelled all the way from Gosford and the Blue Mountains to participate in the event. Of particular concern to those taking part is the AUKUS pact and Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.

According to John Menadue, a former senior public servant and diplomat, Australia’s current obsession with integrating itself ever more closely with the US war machine can only end in disaster.

Menadue points out that the US has been addicted to war and violence at home and abroad for centuries. The US has viewed war as a means of holding and, if possible, enhancing its power and influence. Apart from brief isolationist periods, the US has almost always been at war.1

Former Labor PM Paul Keating also points out that the Albanese government’s complicity with Britain and the US to build nuclear powered submarines for Australia under the AUKUS pact represents the worst international decision by an Australian Labor government since the former Labor leader, Billy Hughes, attempted to introduce conscription during World War One.2

In an address to the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2, 2023, Albanese stated that in purchasing nuclear powered submarines under the AUKUS pact, Australia’s goal was not to prepare for war but to prevent it.

According to the PM, “(o)ur Government’s investments in new capability and technology and personnel are – unapologetically – about our national defence and our national sovereignty.” Apparently these military investments are in turn “an investment in regional stability, strengthening our capacity to contribute to the collective security of the Indo-Pacific.”

Such deceit is unlikely to impress most nations in the Indo-Pacific, given the Labor government’s primary commitment to US strategic hegemony in that region. Nor is it likely to fool the majority of people who elected the Labor government on May 21, 2022, since the strategy is neither a solution to great power competition in the region, nor a solution to ensuring Australia’s sovereignty and national security.

MPG’s next ‘Peace Vigil’ will be on Saturday June 24, 2023, 11.00am to 12.00pm, outside PM Albanese’s electoral office, 334A Marrickville Road, Marrickville 2204.


It is encouraging to see opposition to AUKUS growing within the ALP.  On June 14, 2023 at its State conference, the Queensland branch refused to support a motion congratulating the Albanese government for backing the AUKUS security pact.

More recently, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union had proposed a motion critical of AUKUS at the Victorian conference. However, on June 18, 2023, factional bosses colluded to defer debate on this motion until the ALP’s national conference in Brisbane from August 17 to 19, 2023.3

Trade union and civil society opposition to the AUKUS pact is gaining momentum. The vote on the anti-AUKUS motion at the ALP’s national conference in Brisbane will gauge the extent to which this opposition has grown amongst the rank and file.

1. John Menadue, ‘The US sees China through the dark mirror of its own unbridled aggression’, Pearls and Irritations, Feb 11, 2023.
2. Paul Keating, ‘Australia locks in Asian Century as subordinate to the US’, Pearls & Irritations, Mar 15, 2023.
3. Phillip Coorey, ‘ALP factions pull punches on AUKUS but back Palestine’, The Financial Review, June 18, 2023.

Updated June 20, 2023.

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