AUKUS 2023: The Year Our Government Sold Us Out to the United States

Information on this page was reviewed by a specialist defence lawyer before being published. Click to read more.
AUKUS 2023

The year 2023 has been marked by a significant shift in the Australian government’s adherence to US empire. The fear of Washington dominating the nation has long been mounting over the last half century in tandem with its rising local presence.

Yet, since March, this soft takeover has hit overdrive.

The AUKUS pact has been facilitating the escalating US influence over our defence policy and its military encroachments on local soil.

Established in September 2021, the initially Coalition brokered defence arrangement between the US, the UK and this nation is all in aid of a coming war on China.

PM Anthony Albanese flew to San Diego in March to announce the details of the AUKUS deal that, at base, involves us acquiring eight nuclear-powered submarines (SSN), which will cost at least $368 billion: a tidy sum to be divvied up by the US and the UK in exchange for subs and technologies.

Further military developments have continued at a pace: the nation is to be listed as a domestic military source in US law, we’re to supply guided weapons to Washington, and a coming joint US-UK submarine presence will now entail 700 US military personnel permanently based in West Australia.

And then, out of nowhere, Albanese made us all complicit in the monthslong wholesale massacre of so far over 20,000 of the 2.3 million Palestinians living within the wall-in region of the Gaza Strip: a war crime being perpetrated by the Israeli state.

So, as the nation looks to the new year, there’s a sense of trepidation about what’s around the bend, especially as, right on Christmas, there’s news that Chinese president Xi Jinping gave US counterpart Joe Biden a signal regarding Taiwanese reunification: the crux of what the war will be fought over.

“Colonising the colonisers”

Twenty Twenty-Three has been the year in which it’s clear the continent is again being stolen. And while such sentiment can be taken as sensationist, former foreign minister Bob Carr stated that the nation is sinking “into the role of US territory, as much a dependency as Guam or Puerto Rico”.

The ABC reported last week that Australian Submarine Agency notes set out that up to 700 US support personnel and their families will be stationed in WA, in order to operate Submarine Rotational Force-West: a joint US-UK nuclear-powered submarine presence.

The for-the-most-part US SSN deployment is to tide us over in case the war on China breaks out prior to our to acquiring our own subs beginning in the 2030s. All these SSN are attack class, with the ability to threaten and strike the Chinese mainland. And SRF-West will be operational by 2027.

Yet, whilst this all might sound daunting, it’s only the latest development in the facilitation of the interoperability of both nation’s military forces, which was initially greenlighted by the Gillard Labor government in 2011 at the behest of US president Baraka Obama and his pivot to Asia.

Made official by the Abbott Coalition government, via the 2014 Force Posture Agreement, local US initiatives see 2,500 of its marines stationed in the NT, increasing interoperability between both nations’ air forces, and the US has unimpeded access to dozens of local “agreed facilities and areas”.

If the US upgrades a base, it assumes control of it. And since late 2022, we’ve learnt that storage for six B-52 bombers is being built at RAAF Base Tindall, and these and any other US vessels could be carrying nuclear weapons, as US warhead ambiguity policy doesn’t permit Canberra to know.

The US first made incursions onto this continent with the late 1960s-early 1970s establishment of US military installations at North West Cape and Pine Gap. Both of these facilities are essential to the American war machine and make this continent a target in any broader Indo Pacific war.

Labor leaders who have come after the three years of Gough Whitlam’s rule, which ended abruptly in late 1975, all remember the fate that becomes party leaders who dare to question the worth of US military presence on this continent, as that PM did in relation to Pine Gap and North West Cape.

New lows in relinquishing sovereignty

Australian defence minister Richard Marles appeared before the press on 1 December, accompanied by US counterpart Lloyd Austin and the UK’s Grant Shapps, to outline AUKUS Pillar 2, with the hardwiring of our nation into the US war machine via SSN acquirement encompassing Pillar 1.

Austin spoke of “the optimal pathway for Australia to acquire conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines” launched in March, as well as trilateral training for the AUKUS navies, Australian graduates from the US Nuclear Power School and planned increases to local US SSN visits.

According to Marles, Pillar 2 involves “the sharing and development of advanced technologies between our three countries” via establishing the International Joint Requirement Oversight Council and stated that conditions for “a seamless defence industrial base” were currently being legislated.

Marles added that the combined AUKUS militaries will be working on quantum technologies that will include a “deep space advanced radar capability” for all three countries, which will further involve “resilient artificial intelligence” and “resilient precision targeting”.

The defence minister had only just introduced the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2023 into Australian parliament the day prior to this announcement. This legislation aims at streamlining the free trade of defence goods and technologies between our nation and that of the US and the UK.

US congress has just passed the 2024 National Defence Authorization Act, which allows the transfer of three US Virginia class SSN to Australia, and since we’ll be reliant on US tech knowhow to run these subs, this guarantees an ongoing and strengthened US posture in the Indo Pacific region.

The US legislation further establishes our nation as a US domestic military source, allowing Washington privileged access to critical minerals, such as lithium. It facilitates the establishment the SRF-West base, and it also permits the US to provide training to Taiwan’s military forces.

While it came to light last week that during a November summit in San Francisco, Chinese president Xi told US president Biden that it’s Beijing’s wish to take back the island of Taiwan peacefully, and not by force, adding that the Chinese Communist Party has not set a timeline for this as yet.

Complicit in genocide

But as the alternate commentariat has continued to lament this loss of sovereignty, which has been overseen with a vigour never seen before, events transpired in early October that have seen Israel unleash a three-month-long carpet-bombing assault and ground invasion upon the Gaza Strip.

Sparked by Hamas attacks upon the apartheid nation of Israel, the disproportionate nature of the far-right Netanyahu government’s response has been obvious since it commenced this mass murder of so far 20,000 mainly civilians, with the genocidal intent behind the operation well documented.

And the Albanese government has lined up behind Uncle Sam, as did all of its other vassal states, in supporting Israel and framing its multiple war crimes and mass civilian murders, including thousands of children, hundreds of healthcare workers and dozens of journalists, as self-defence.

And despite a recent half-hearted ceasefire call by Albanese, many Australians feel they’ve been made complicit in the crime of genocide. And as our nation is a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, this crime is reflected in our nation’s federal domestic law.

Section 268.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) contains genocide by killing, which the crime in Gaza would appear to constitute, as the offence involves causing the death of one or more persons of a particular national, ethnical, racial or religious group in order to destroy it, in part or entirely.

Albanese and foreign minister Penny Wong had been consistent in repeating the Israeli self-defence line, up until the PM released a joint 13 December ceasefire statement with his Canadian and NZ counterparts, and our nation bucked the trend and voted for a UN humanitarian pause resolution.

The statement has since been condemned for its talk of moving “towards a sustained ceasefire”, which means a future truce reliant upon Hamas being out of the picture.

And this did not prevent Washington from immediately calling on our nation to send a warship to the Red Sea to assist with the Houthis.

The Yemeni Houthis have actively been attacking commercial ships bound for the Red Sea and passage onto Israel, as they pass through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

And in a rare show of independence, Albanese refused to send the ship, but has still joined our nation up to the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian.

In opposing the Houthis, the multinational naval coalition is intervening on the side of Israel and its ongoing war crimes. More than 20 nations are now part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, including our nation, which is sending eleven personnel instead of a warship.

The US, UK and French navies have already shot down Houthis drones in defensive moves. And a coalition of more than 30 US civil society groups have issued a statement calling on Biden not to escalate this into a regional war, following reports that his administration is preparing airstrikes.

Indeed, the Albanese government has left the Australian constituency, or at least quite a sizable portion of it, distinctly uneasy this holiday season.

Complicity in the crime of the century is reawakening the crimes of the past that transpired here and it’s further exposing a disengaged political class in Canberra that’s simply tossed the keys to the US, whether that entails Genocide Joe at the wheel or the very real prospect of the return of Trump.

Receive all of our articles weekly


Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

Your Opinion Matters