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Government must come clean on proposed US military bases in Australia.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

30 May 2003


Robert Hill and John Howard should come clean on just what discussions have been held with the US government over the possible basing of US troops in Australia.

Today the Prime Minister did not rule out agreeing to such bases, saying he would consider any approach by the US. John Howard has deliberately left the door open for US troops to be based permanently in Australia.

The US is clearly planning a major redistribution of its forces in the Asia - Pacific region, and appears to be considering Australia as a possible location for new bases.

Yesterday’s report in the Los Angeles Times, quoting senior US defence officials, states that the US is looking to move up to 15,000 Marines currently based in Japan to Australia. The report claims that:

“…countries such as Vietnam, Australia, and several nations in Central Asia and Eastern Europe are openly seeking a US military presence and the security and economic benefits that American bases could bring.”

Labor strongly supports Australia’s alliance with the US. Labor’s policy is to support the use of facilities in Australia by the armed forces of friendly countries in combined exercises, training and goodwill visits.

Labor would welcome closer co-operation between Australian and US forces in dealing with the threat of global and regional terrorism.

However, Labor does not believe that the Australian public would support a permanent base of 20,000 US Marines on Australian soil.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617