May 29th 2007
Greens seek to protect troops at Shoalwater
Magnetic Islanders may protest at the impacts of inappropriate development but, to our south and still bordering the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Shoalwater Bay is soon to be subjected to another military bombardment with the US/Australian Talisman Sabre exercises. But the Townsville Greens are going beyond environmental concerns to call for assurances that radioactive depleted uranium (DU) - linked to Gulf War Syndrome - will not be deployed, for the benefit of soldiers, civilians and the environment.
Greens candidate for Herbert Ms Jenny Stirling is asking the Australian and USA governments to give the public assurances that Depleted Uranium will not be used in it's up coming war games, Talisman Sabre.
"How can the Australian Defence Force prove that DU will not part of this year's Talisman Sabre exercises? How can we be certain that the US military will honor the Australian directive not to use the materials in these exercises? How can we trust the US military when we see their track record in telling the truth about the use of DU in their own bases?", asks Ms Stirling.
According to the Greens, the 14 000 strong US military presence arriving in Australia next month will include nuclear powered submarines and nuclear weapons capable and depleted uranium weapons equipped US warships off Yeppoon's coast in June.
The Australian Defence Force denies that DU will be used (read here)
However, in 2003, in response to questions about Australian support for US use of DU, then Defence Minister Robert Hill stated: "In relation to DU used by our allies we have said that, if they believe it is the most appropriate element to use in their particular munitions in certain circumstances, we do not think it is appropriate for us to press a different view upon them."
According to a Greens media statement, "Growing evidence from reputable organizations like the UN are proving that the use of depleted uranium poses extreme health risks to anyone in contact with these materials, including cancer, genetic damage that can cause horrific birth defects and even sexual dysfunction."
Jenny Stirling said: "We want an unequivocal statement from the Australian government to the Australian public and our troops to the effect that US forces will not be firing any DU weapons in the Talisman Sabre exercises at Shoalwater Bay".
Suggestions that DU may have been utilised at Shoalwater Bay in the past, though strongly denied by Defence, were first aired by Academy Award-nominated Film maker David Bradbury in "Blowin in the Wind" which "examines the secret treaty that allows the US military to train and test its weaponry on Australian soil,"(click here).
The Greens maintain that it is time come clean about the clear and present danger posed by these war games - on soldiers, the general public and the wildlife threatened by the biggest ever military exercise held in Shoalwater Bay.
A Peace Convergence protest at Shoalwater Bay against the exercises is planned for the Talisman Sabre period of June 18 to 24.
Greens Senate candidate, Anja Light will be holding Peace Convergence events in Ayr (31st May, 6.30pm), Bowen (6th June) and Airlie Beach (7th June) to raise awareness about the impact on these war games. For More information www.peaceconvergence.com
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