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Welfare not Warfare: Protest Against Albo’s $360bn AUKUS Deal

Protesters gathered outside Fisher Library to oppose the deal, demanding funding be redirected to adequately finance social services

Protestors gathered outside Fisher Library demanding that the Labor government scrap the AUKUS deal on Wednesday 9 August. The rally called on the Albanese government to redirect the enormous funding earmarked for these submarines towards essential social services, healthcare, and education. 

Carolyn Leana, a First Nations rapper and representative from the Action for Public Housing, decried the government’s decision to demolish affordable public housing, as seen in the slated demolition of public housing at 82 Wentworth Park Rd, Glebe

“Public Housing is affordable housing, is community housing… the social housing model’s abuse is absurd, divisive, and detrimental to tenants,” Leana said,  demanding that financial resources be redirected from the war apparatus to address the urgent needs of housing, education, and student accommodations.

Lil Barto from Wage Peace spoke to the significance of simultaneous protests taking place across the country displaying a unified stance against AUKUS. Barto said, “The most substantial threat to peace isn’t China, but the colossal war machinery of the United States.” 

Barto  critically assessed the university’s coalition with the military,  encouraging the commercial application of STEM education for destructive purposes, such as in weapons manufacturing. Reflecting on her visit to a weapons trade show,  Barto observed the slogan, “Enhance lethality,” as a way to market the weaponry, emphasising the urgent need to reprioritize spending towards social welfare and away from militarisation.

Nick Deane, an activist from the Marrickville peace group, reflected on his journey from being a pilot in the RAF, eventually disavowing the military and redirecting towards a path of anti-war activism. Deane warned, “The Albanese Labor government has thrown its lot in with the USA, weapons manufacturers, and the Australian capitalist class, all seemingly poised for a war with China.” 

“The only threat that China poses is the economics race to the united states of America  it is not a military threat h to Australia by any stretch of our imagination.”

Amy Lamant, a student activist from Macquarie University, highlighed the potential for future conflicts fueled by the pro-military, anti-China bipartisanship of both major Australian parties. Lamont said, “The AUKUS submarines are not about defence; they are about projecting military power offshore.” 

“I think the biggest threat to peace is not China but is actually the US military war machine. And what’s another they are going to defend this war? They are going to say how many millions of people have died for the supposed US democracy. The innocent people of Iraq of Afghanistan the Vietnamese peasants that had their skin burnt off definitely arent thanking the US for fighting for democracy.” 

The rally then moved towards UTS, at which the last two speakers delivered their speeches. 

Bailey Riley, President of the National Union of Students (NUS), echoed the sentiment that the government has been prioritising military spending over the well-being of vulnerable Australians. “Why is the government allocating a staggering 370 billion dollars to a war machinery that won’t materialize for a decade?”

Riley continued by highlighting the financial struggles faced by thousands of young students unable to secure affordable housing, with the reality that “many students couldn’t afford three meals a day.”

Harrison Brennan, USyd SRC Welfare Officer, emphasised, “The Labor government is doing nothing to alleviate the crisis faced by renters.”

Brennan concluded the rally with a bleak but sobering picture of the economic challenges that continue to haunt students and workers in Australia, including soaring inflation rates, rapidly escalating HECS debts, and hiking rates of rent as pressing challenges.

Source: Honisoit