Border Protection?? Secret Nuclear sub shows Australian Government ignorance

August 26, 2002

National environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has today called for a formal explanation of why a US nuclear submarine surfaced off the Gold Coast yesterday without the knowledge or consent of the Defence Department or Australian Government. The incident was reported in today's edition of the Gold Coast Bulletin following numerous reports from concerned locals.

"Just a fortnight ago the Defence Minister Robert Hill was boasting of the close working relationship Australia has with the United States on defence matters," FoE spokesperson Dimity Hawkins said today. "Now we hear he has no idea that one of our popular tourist destinations was host to a vessel capable of destroying not just the fragile environment of our northern waters, but potentially the eastern states of our nation."

"This level of ignorance is of great concern to all Australians. A Sunday on the beach should not involve secret transfers of personnel to a foreign military vessel. Australia's national interests are not enhanced by these activities - in fact such activity places us at greater risk of becoming a target within our own region.

Australian parliamentarians have frequently spoken of their concern about the secrecy of US defence agreements. Last week NT parliamentarian Warren Snowdon called for greater openness at the US spy facilities at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory and expressed concern about the new security agreement between the United States and Australia, which could prevent parliamentarians from being briefed on national security issues.

"There is very real concern among many in Australia at this Government's willingness to compromise our national sovereignty in favour of US military imperatives," said Jacob Grech of Ozpeace. "From Pine Gap to the beach at Burleigh Heads is a long way but it is the same story of military secrecy and Government complicity."

"We need to know that our Government and elected members of Parliament have an idea of what is happening in our own backyards and off our beaches," concluded Dimity Hawkins. "The Government must come clean on just what -and who - is where." 

For further information contact:

Dimity Hawkins
Nuclear Weapons Spokesperson - Friends of the Earth Australia
Mob: 0425 786 301

Jacob Grech
Spokesperson - Ozpeace
Mob: 0402 246 491