Next May/June will see Australia host the largest military exercises we've ever had in peacetime. Talisman Sabre 07.
Twelve thousand Australian soldiers and nearly l4,000 US troops and sailors will take place in bombarding our shores and fragile landscape, storming our beaches, gunning down 'terrorists' in the newly built urban guerrilla warfare training centre, testing their latest laser guided missiles and 'smart' bombs in some of the most pristine wilderness I've ever seen on this planet - and in 30years of making films, I've seen a lot of this planet.
Idyllic Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton will cop it all - live aerial bombing, ship to shore naval firings, underwater depth charges exploded in areas where turtles and dugong breed, nuclear subs using high level sonar frequency which zaps the hearing of sea life and mammals, nuclear aircraft carriers inside the so-called Great Barrier Reef marine national park (!), land based artillery firings blasting the hell out of areas where the most amazing biodiversity in Australia is to be found.
Shoalwater Bay covers 740,000 hectacres and is almost unique in our climatic landscape because it is a cross over point for tropical, sub tropical and temperate zones giving rise to an amazing variety of many species of flora and wildlife, birds,sea creatures etc.
Anyone who has seen Al Gore's film has to ask why are we allowing such madness to take place and wanton misuse of resources to further add to the huge level of CO2 put up into the atmosphere in exercises such as these at a time when we all should be combining forces in the War for Our Survival.
These live munitions actions at Shoalwater Bay will run simultaneously with US bombing runs by Stealth, B1 and B52 bombers (just one B52 bomber carries 30 tonnes of bombs -needs three semi trailers to load it up with its bombload...) from Guam to drop their live payload from 5 kilometres high on Delamare bombing range near Katherine NT and live fire exercises involving many Abrams tanks rumbling across the landscape at Bradshaw tank range (surrounded by Bradshaw national park south of Darwin, target practising on country against the wishes of the senior Aboriginal elders, custodians of that country...).
These military exercises and their coordination in both states will be beamed live via satellite from tiny cameras on the tanks, bombers,landing craft, army commanders's lapels etc to the coordinating War Room at Newcastle where the US and Australian generals will call the shots of what is fired next. Son of Star Wars has arrived in Australia!
I don't know how you feel about that, but I am still disgusted that Australia supports the US so sycophantically in this bullshit War on Terror. Our unholy crusade at the latest count had 653,000 innocent people in Iraq killed-even if its half this number comprehensively and methodically counted number, its still a national and immoral disgrace that we have lent our name and support to such a huge number of innocent people murdered in our nation's name.
Next year's Talisman Sabre exercises are a con for blatant continuing militarism of a similar vein post Afghanistan and Iraq. We are now about to pollute our own most pristine areas, far away from the centres of population by letting the US military test their latest weapons here.
There are big plans by British Aerospace and the other arms manufacturers to quietly turn the depressed Rockhampton area into a bigarms manufacturing industrial estate. So not only will we export our soldiers who are the best there is to adventurist wars overseas, we are about to see an explosion in Australia manufacturing and exporting weapons of war.
Not particularly drawn to military phrases, we have to 'draw a line in the sand' and say when 'enough is enough'. It's time my friends, to stop this madness and our complicity in it.
With a view to oppose these exercises, a group of people from around Australia with peace activist credentials had a phone link up yesterday and spoke for an hour about our willingness to combine forces and oppose these exercises. We will link with activist residents of Shoalwater Bay (Yeppoon and Byfield) that we made contact with last year during Talisman Sabre 2005.
We plan to put on a big concert at Yeppoon and have people come from all over Australia to take part in that concert and choose, if they wish, to be part of non violent actions to oppose the war and Australia's involvement in such wars.
Through my contact with musicians like Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil (friends from University days), John Butler, Deborah Conway, Robyn Archer, Kev Carmody and actors Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, we intend to put on a big concert which will spill into the evening with relevant films and speakers to raise awareness of just what Australia has signed up for with this new secret treaty then Defence Minister Robert Hill and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer signed with Rumsfeld and Powell back in July 2004. It is that secret treaty which is allowing the Americans to come here and do what they want -without so much as an environmental impact study being done before or after the exercises.
We need people in communities right along the eastern seaboard to be actively involved in this campaign to build awareness amongst your local communities and to take on the role of being local coordinators as the campaign builds over the next six months, to help with the logistics of organising people to come by bus, peace train, cars, planes to be there in June for that concert and weekend leading into week of actions. Some people with work or other commitments will only be able to come for a few days, perhaps the weekend. No matter. We have to send a BIG message to the rest of our apathetic and many indifferent Australians and the government that this is not on any more.
Please look at this website and subscribe to it to keep generally informed of what is happening, how to link up people in your local community if you want to help make this peace convergence a BIG event.