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We are not a base for US drones – Greens

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 28 Mar 2012

The Federal Government must rule out allowing US military spy drones to be based on Australia's Cocos Islands, the Greens said today.

Greens spokesperson assisting on Defence, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said the Government needs to respond decisively to reports that the US is considering the use of the islands off the north-west coast for surveillance drones and other spy aircraft.

"The Washington Post refers to the Cocos Islands as an ‘ideal site'. It may be ideal for the Pentagon, but it is not ideal for this country to give up yet another piece of our territory and yet another degree of our independence to the US military."

"Surveillance may sound innocent enough to some, but the role of this base will be to make it even easier for the US military to strike and kill at will. If the past forty years has taught us anything, it's that we must be wary of being complicit in these misadventures."

"American weaponised drones have been involved in a large number of civilian deaths in recent years. Are their spy drones any more reliable in identifying targets?"

"During President Obama's visit last year, he sounded a clear warning to China - both in his speech to our Parliament and in his announcement of a sizeable US troop deployment through Darwin. Defence Minister Stephen Smith acknowledged at the time there was a potential for increased use of the Cocos Islands for military purposes. Now we see another move."

"Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confirmed Australian and US officials have discussed increased military cooperation in the region, including potential greater use of the islands. The Prime Minister said she won't ‘play a rule-in, rule-out game' on this. It's no game - the Government should rule it out now."

"Minister Smith told AM today that the Cocos airstrip would need to be upgraded to be able to launch the drones and that's ‘very much a long-term prospect'. It may be long term, but it's still very much a prospect - and that's not acceptable."

"The lease on the over-crowded US base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean expires in just four years. We are not a replacement."

Senator Scott Ludlam will hold a media conference in Western Australia today at 11.15am WST - 8 Cantonment Street, Fremantle:
On the drone base plan and on greater American access to the HMAS Stirling base in Rockingham, Perth.


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