Victorian Socialists hold anti-war forum

4 June 2023
Sophie McLoughlin

The Victorian Socialists hosted a forum, Stop the Drive to War, at Melbourne’s Trades Hall on 3 June to try to build a coalition against the militarisation of Australia, the expansion of the nuclear industry, and the AUKUS deal and drive to war with China.

More than 200 people attended the event, which featured as speakers Victorian Socialists Secretary Corey Oakley, anti-nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney, NSW South Coast Labour Council Secretary Arthur Rorris and lifelong socialist Diane Fieldes. The event also raised $2,300 to send anti-war student activists to the National Union of Students conference in Brisbane to try to start a student anti-AUKUS campaign.

Sweeney, a co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, described nuclear technology as an existential threat to humanity. He pointed to the terrifying fact that the weapons-grade nuclear waste from the AUKUS submarines will need to be managed for 100,000 years, an impossible task that will fall to the Department of Defence, with its chain-of-command culture of secrecy and lack of expertise.

Rorris noted the devastating impact a nuclear submarine base in Port Kembla would have on the community and the environment, undoing the hard campaign work being put into setting up renewable energy sources in the region.

To build a strong anti-war movement, Fieldes urged activists to learn lessons from previous anti-war campaigns, such as those against World War One and the Vietnam War. She noted the mass demonstrations and endless strikes that led to success in these campaigns, not a reliance on electoral politics.

“We need to end the US alliance, kick the bases out of Australia and end the AUKUS deal”, said Oakley.

The fight against Australian participation in an impending US-led war against China will be built in workplaces, on the campuses and on the streets. So, as Fieldes concluded, “Let’s be ready!”

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