Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has won an important fight against internal dissidents seeking to strip references to nuclear-powered submarines from Labor’s policy platform.
Anti-war and anti-nuclear protesters gathered at the entrance of the ALP national conference in Brisbane on Friday, carrying placards denouncing AUKUS.
Left-wing Labor delegates and some unions pushed to strip mention of the Australia-UK-US agreement from the party’s policy platform in defiance of the government’s position.
But the move failed on the conference floor, with about three-quarters of delegates voting to support the government’s position while a vocal section shouted “no”.
The motion passed on the voices.
The demonstrators opposed “warmongering”, the nuclear element and costs associated with the acquisition of submarines via the pact and promised to remain “raucous”.
Mr Albanese said he had come to the position that nuclear submarines were what Australia needed to protect national security.
“These are the choices of a mature nation, a nation that understands that a bright future calls for more than sunny optimism,” he told the conference on Friday.
“We have to bring our defence capabilities up to speed and AUKUS is central to that.”
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said nuclear submarines were needed to promote peace and protect Australia as he introduced a 32-paragraph statement outlining how the pact fit within Labor’s values and would protect Australian interests.
It included assurances about local jobs and manufacturing.
“Australia will never have a million-person army,” he said.
“So in that context, our submarines are easily the most important platform we operate … it provides a genuine question mark in any adversary’s mind.”
But the government faced sustained protests during their speeches and cries of “shame” when nuclear submarines were mentioned.
Federal Labor MP Josh Wilson voiced his concerns, saying it was wrong to dismiss questioning of national security.
“I’m not convinced the acquisition of nuclear-propelled submarines or the AUKUS arrangement is in Australia’s national interest,” he said.
He said it involved too many risks to the budget, sovereign manufacturing capability and nuclear waste.
“Labor has a history of applying scrutiny and critical judgment to military and defence matters in the national interest when too few are prepared to do the same,” he said.
“We must continue to bring that kind of … difficult debate to these matters, which more than some other topics, frankly, require greater scrutiny rather than less.”
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham took aim at the internal division, saying the government was trying to appease factional bosses.
“There are real concerns about the way in which this government is going to be able to manage this critically important, highly complex program for the future,” he said.
The government says it remains fully committed to AUKUS and is adamant the submarines are in line with non-proliferation restrictions and will not lead to a civil nuclear industry or weapons.
Source : Yahoo Lifestyle