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US says jump, Government asks ‘how high’ at AUSMIN

The Greens have urged the Government to put Australian interests first at the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation starting tomorrow, starting with the release of the legal agreement underpinning the increased US military presence in Australia.

Australian Greens spokesperson assisting on Defence, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said that US-Australian defence deals had been "a one-way street" for too long.

"The Americans wanted Australian soldiers in Iraq, and they got it. They wanted a defence trade controls treaty that shackles Australian research, and they got it. They wanted marines based at Darwin, and they got it. We suspect they want an expanded presence at HMAS Stirling naval base, access to air bases in the north of WA, and basing facilities for drones in the Indian Ocean - what's next?

"The 2010 deal that outlines the rights, role, and responsibilities of US forces in Australia is being kept secret from the Australian public. For two years the Government denied it existed, now they won't tell the Australia people what's in it. By 2016 there will be 2500 US marines at Darwin, US air force elements based in Katherine, and an increased presence in our ports. The agreement that governs this militarisation is to be withheld, presumably until such time as it is leaked in the public interest - it's an extraordinary insult to Australian sovereignty.

"Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is in Perth today with Foreign Minister Carr and Defence Minister Smith, and will meet Prime Minister Gillard later this afternoon. I sincerely hope the Prime Minister will put Australian interests first. We don't want more nuclear vessels in our ports and we don't want more US forces on our soil."


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