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A Merry AUKUS Surprise, Western Australia!

The secretive Australian government just cannot help itself. Clamouring and hectoring of other countries and their secret arrangements (who can forget the criticism of the Solomon Islands over its security pact with China for that reason?) the Albanese government is a bit too keen on keeping a lid on things regarding the withering away of Australian independence before a powerful and spoiling friend.

A degree of this may be put down to basic lack of sensibility or competence. But there may also be an inadvertent confession in the works here: Australians may not be too keen on such arrangements once the proof gets out of the dense, floury pudding.

It took, as usual, those terrier-like efforts from Rex Patrick, Australia’s foremost transparency knight, forever tilting at the windmill of government secrecy, to discover that Western Australians are in for a real treat. The US imperium, it transpires from material produced by the Australian Department of Defence, will be deploying some 700 personnel, with their families, to the state. And to make matters more interesting, Western Australia will also host a site for low-level radioactive waste produced by US and UK submarines doing their rotational rounds under the AUKUS arrangements.

The briefing notes from the recently created Australian Submarine Agency reveal that the Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-West) will host as many as four US nuclear submarines of the US Navy Virginia-class at HMAS Stirling and one UK nuclear-powered boat from 2027. As part of what is designated the first phase of AUKUS, an Australian workforce of some 500-700 maintenance and support personnel is projected to grow in response to the program before Australia owns and operates its own US-made nuclear-powered boats. Once established and blooded by experience, “This workforce will then move to support our enduring nuclear-powered submarine program and will be a key enabler for SRF-West.”

The ASA documents go on to project that “over 700 United States Personnel could be living and working in Western Australia to support SRF-West, with some also bringing families.” The UK will not be getting the same treatment, largely because the contingent from the Royal Navy will be moving through on shorter rotations.

The stationing of the personnel in question finally puts to rest those contemptible apologetics that Australia is not a garrison for the US armed forces. At long last Australians can be reassured, if rather grimly, that these are not fleeting visits from great defenders, but the constant, and lingering presence of an imperial power jealously guarding its interests.

The issue of storing waste will have piqued some interest, given Australia’s current and reliably consistent failure to establish any long-term storage facility for any sort of nuclear waste, be it low, medium or high grade. But never fear, the doltish poseurs of the Defence Department are always willing to please and, as the department documents show, learn in their servile role.

As Patrick reveals, the documents released under FOI tell us that “operational waste” arising from the Submarine Rotational Force operation at HMAS Stirling will include the storage of low to intermediate level radioactive waste on Australian defence sites. One document notes that, “The rotational presence of United Kingdom and United States SSNs in Western Australia as part of the Submarine Rotational Force – West (SRF-West) will provide an opportunity to learn how these vessels operate, including the management of low-level radioactive waste from routine sustainment.”

The ASA also confirms with bold foolhardiness that, “All low and intermediate radioactive waste will be safely stored at Defence sites in Australia.” The storage facility in question is “being planned as part of the infrastructure works proposed for HMAS Stirling to support SRF-West.”

The Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles has retained a consultant, Steve Grzeskowiak, to the remunerative value of AU$396,000 from February to December this year to identify a suitable site on land owned by the Commonwealth. Absurdly, the same consultant, when Deputy Secretary of Defence Estates, conducted an analysis of over 200 Defence sites in terms of suitability for low-level waste management, finding none to pass muster.

In a troubling development, Patrick also notes that the Australian Naval Nuclear Power Safety Bill 2023, in its current form, would permit the managing, storing or disposing of radioactive waste from an AUKUS submarine, which would include UK or US submarines. Importantly, that waste could well be of a high-level nature. “While the Albanese Government has made a commitment that it will not do so, the Bill leaves the legal door open for possible future agreement from the Australian Government to store high-level nuclear waste generated from US or UK nuclear-powered submarines.”

To round matters off, Australia’s citizenry was enlightened to the fact that they will be adding some $US3 billion (AU$4.45 billion) to the US submarine industrial base. In the words of the ASA, “Australia’s commitment to invest in the US submarine industrial base recognises the lift the United States is making to supporting Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.” This will entail the pre-purchase of “submarine components and materials, so they are on hand at the start of the maintenance period” thereby “saving time” and “outsourcing less complex sustainment and expanding planning efforts for private sector overhauls, to reduce backlog.”

Decoding such naval, middle-management gibberish is a painful task, but nothing as painful as the implications for a country that has not only surrendered itself wholly and without qualification to Washington but is all too happy to subsidise it.

 

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18 comments

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  1. Roswell

    It was inevitable that someone would pick the short straw.

  2. Kerri

    “Tilting at windmills” is hardly a compliment to the hard working transparency warrior, Patrick?

    “ What does tilting at the windmills mean?
    Engage in conflict with an imagined opponent, pursue a vain goal, as in Trying to reform campaign financing in this legislature is tilting at windmills.”

  3. RomeoCharlie

    We would never countenance this if it was done by the Liberals but here is Labor not just rolling over to have its belly rubbed but grovelling obsequiously. How did it get to this?
    How can it be stopped?

  4. Douglas Pritchard

    I lived in Rockingham (home to HMAS Stirling) for several years, and now just a short distance down the coast.
    In a modest suburban setting an American family moved in.
    This was easy to spot because they chose to erect a flag pole, and fly a yankee flag from it.
    This attracted local displeasure, because the front of the house collected eggs in abundance.
    They must have got the message because it didnt last too long, and folk were happy with just the bare pole.
    I hesitate to suggest that this news is NOT welcome here.
    We have been sold down the river, and I think Mark McGowan would have seen this coming in his home town, and gotten out before the flak started flying.

  5. ajogrady

    When are Australians going to stop pretending that their vote for Australian federal politicians is a vote for Australian outcomes? All federal politicians of all political stripes are submissive to US policies . Australia’s sovereignty was meekly wrested to the US and the Albanese government is the meekest of the meek of Australian politicians. Taxpayers must wonder why Australia has four levels of government. That is gvernance by local government, state government, federal government and US government.

  6. Lorraine

    RomeoCharlie, have you forgotten that it was the Liberals who signed Australia up to the Aukus deal. Blaming Labor and Albo is disingenuous and politically shady.
    Remember how Morrison dropped the French deal on subs and the international dramas that caused. Imagine the international hoohaa that would erupt if the Labor govt broke the deal – it would have enormous repercussions and impact Australia negatively for decades to come. If deals are broken by incoming governments of a different political views, Australia would not be welcome or trusted by any other country.

    I am in no doubt that the Australian government would have some confidentiality clauses in place – and would you really like to see Labor break confidentiality with a major international ally?

  7. Andrew Smith

    Lorraine, I concur, just another…. PR booby trap left behind by LNP and their RW media cartel collaborators….

  8. Lorraine

    It’s bizarre how many people are hanging the blame for Aukus on Albo and Labor.
    It really indicates either a deeply entrenched bias against Labor, or a pathetic lack of understanding the issue.

  9. ajogrady

    Lorraine.
    Albanese has been a disapppintment to many Labor “true believers”. It is not only his unqualified support for anything USA ,AUKUS, Israel, the fossil fuel industry and NATO to name just a few that will see Albanese,and probably others in Labor that hold inner city seats, lose his seat at the next election. If the Teals do to Labor what they did to the L/NP at the last election we could be looking at a hung parliament at the up coming election.

  10. Phil Pryor

    If the outgoing coalition of putrid political perverted poostained pathetics under S Moronzone is below acceptable, then the ALP is losing support from the reasonable ones who wanted positive, progressive, remedial action. Where are we now? Following in the wake of the odious USA and its deluded fantastical filth ,fantasy, fraud, fakery and selfinflated foolisness is fatal, evil, suicidal.

  11. Lorraine

    ajogrady, Labor comes in many shades. Some of the so called ‘true believers’ seem to be more on the LibNats side, like Latham and Johns were/are – stooges for the right wing nutters.

    I took notice of Albo as a young person when he stood up to Hawke on the introduction of HECS. Albo has been consistent, pragmatic at times, but consistent. Remember his first act as leader was to get rid of Setka – without calling him out on the way Setka used the union against Labor in the 2019 election that saw Morrison win against Shorten. Albo has Shorten as a crucial member of the front bench.

    Albo has set up a national integrity body, and that I am sure will deliver long term gain. Albo is not flashy, but he is smart and he has remained consistent to the Labor movement.

  12. ajogrady

    Lorraine
    In politics perception is everything. Albsnese is perceived as weak. Dutton, the L/NP and the right wing media are all portraying Albanese as weak. His small target L/NP lite agenda is going to come back and haunt him and Labor.

  13. Dorian

    ajogrady, true, each-way Albo led Labor to victory last election with 35% of the vote? LNP got 30% from memory.
    65% of voters do not want Labor in charge. It’s easy to see what will likely happen next.
    Flooding Aus with an extra 2,000 migrants each day is going to sink Labor.
    And I won’t be voting LNP either.

  14. New England Cocky

    Funny how Blind Freddie prophesied that all the US & UK nuclear waste would end up buried somewhere in Australia rather than downtown New York or North London. Surely this prediction was obvious to anybody in Canberra capable of adding two single digit numbers?

    So given the immigration limits being touted by the Albanese LABOR(?) government, will the proposed ”700 US military personnel” be included in the count as migrants or as more US Occupation Forces along with the 2,500 installed in Darwin?

    The USUKA sub debacle that sold out Australian sovereignty thanks to incompetent, uncaring LIARBRAL$ & NOtional$ politicians is a huge waste of money that would be better spent in Australia funding infrastructure projects than propping up the US submarine construction industry as tribute to the oppressor.

    Any country that has the USA (United States of Apartheid) as an ally and armaments supplier has no need of any other enemies.

  15. Clakka

    Claptrap abounds.

    The nonsense of ‘true believers’ is an olde worlde trope. Whilst I lean left towards Labor, I do not ascribe such rubbish as ‘true believer’ or ‘rusted on’ as part of my voting considerations.

    Domestic politics is increasingly more complex and demanding than the days of those old tropes. Yet the LNP has clearly demonstrated its failure to attend to such difficulties, opting for their inate empty-headedness, and the importation of democracy crushing shouty and conspitorial drivel programmed by the paid dark mercantile and neo-religious forces of FRWNJs and the utterly infected GOP of Uncle Sam land. It’s like importing to Oz FF guzzling rust buckets and their drugged-up yokel drivers. Yet in Oz, the utterly pathetic and devious msm, for the purpose of sensation, destabilization and the flogging of bling keep mind-bending the populace – and to a 60:40 extent it has worked thus far, but its edge is wearing off.

    To suggest Albo and Labor are weak, to me, reveals a lack of attention to detail, and a caving to the divisive garbage of the inept and unimaginative, corrupted LNP and their msm flunkies. Like ’em or not, thank goodness The Greens, the teals and other independents generally keep their hats on and do a pretty good job putting reasonable tests to Labor. Despite the Howard years and the recent decade long landscape of desertification and inaction strewn with detritus and wreckage left by the LNP, Labor has hit the ground running and done a pretty good job of clean up and revitalization, and it’s all hard yards – with much more to come. It has not only dealt with the concealed traps left by the LNP, but also diligently knuckled down to dealing with the shocks of one of the most intense monetary and supply-chain nightmares the interdependent world has experienced.

    Progressively through the LNP government years, a vastness of socio-economic issues were plowed into the desert, ignored and over-ridden by free-market rhetoric and the further entrenchment of the RW status quo of cuddling up to mega-mining and FF interests and providing further facilitations to the already wealthy. In those years, the voices of the needy, the environmentally and socially conscientous, and arts/philisophy/history/social sciences education, were suppressed and often ridiculed, again with the participation of the feckless grubs of the LNP aligned msm. With Labor now in place, those voices and their requests have snowballed into the public domain, and Labor has been doing fairly well attending to the matters as can be afforded. Nevertheless, typically, the LNP and their media flunkies are painting that snowballing as an indication that Labor is deficient, weak and duplicitous. Oh, the LNPs usurous hypocrisy is now bald-faced.

    We have heard for years from experts that Oz had the capacity to rise as a ‘smart country’. To take-on climate change and transform itself into a world tech giant, as well as provider of hi-tech resources. What did the LNP do? Sat on it’s hands, opting for a continuing model of land theft, exploitation and the propagation of filth.

    It has really been no surprise, as the populist RW world ran the same playbook, engorging the unworked vaults of the plutocrats and mega-wealthy through to economic stagnation, propagating wars of both acquisition and desperation, and the madding crowd becoming discombobulated and understandably incendiary. It reached boiling point during and immediately after the pandemic. And this is the inheritance Labor is now faced with.

    Internationally, the environment, economics, social stability, politics and diplomacy have been teetering on a paranoiac knife-edge. And all know it needed to be re-balanced to a new foundation. The manoeuvres involved in achieving that cannot be made singularly by any one country, they require collaboration and the co-operative utilization of resources, skills and opportunities of all countries. Lumps, bumps and all, it’s happening, and at a fast rate. The ideological shocks are underway, and will of course have to be managed by each governments to suit its culture. In Oz, as we help ourselves, and others outside Oz, the front edge of change is underway, and the hardest shocks to manage are those in bumping us out of a faux laissez faire, she’ll be right mate, sanctimony, into a seemingly dichotomous path over decades to a new and better foundation.

    Thank goodness we’ve got Albo and his Labor team dancing the weirding way at the helm, otherwise it would be a slothful regression to hell. Amongst the seeming dichotomies, there’s some very tough jobs there for Plibersek and Bowen, and whilst pushing ahead, Albo and Marles cop the slings and arrows I’m sure they will increasingly manage, it is notable and encouraging that Wong and Chalmers are Oz’s two most trusted politicians.

  16. John C

    Australia, one day soon to become the 52nd state of the Divided States of Aggression. What a sad world, and country, we are living in when we continue to be the puppet for our ‘allies’. And I use that word very loosely.

  17. Lorraine

    John C, Australia’s constitution was based on the USA model, updated to modernity to fit with the 1901 Australian federation. So the idea of us becoming a state of the US is pretty old hat – as old as NZ being part of Australia.
    As uncomfortable as I am re the AUKUS sub deal that the Morrision Liberal govt signed us up to, becoming a state of the US is not something that registers on my radar of concern. We already have too much US influence here via media and investments but that is different from being annexed by the US.

  18. Pingback: Nuclear News 1st January 2024 — Der Friedensstifter

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