The Gangjeong international team has requested to Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition for an article in June 2014 newsletter. The excerpts from the long version was put in the 2nd page of it. We put the whole article here as it provides much information. Thanks to Julie Marlow and friends in the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign to take time on the article.
Won Hee-Ryong, a conservative and right wing, and a new Island governor(who was elected on June 4 and started his term on July 1)has written a reply to the Gangjeong Village Association’s question on the possibility of realization of civilian-military complex port on May 24 that he thinks co-existence of civilian and military port is possible, making examples of Sydney, San Diego, Manhattan, and Rome. His whole short answer was:
Sydney Harbour: an unlikely exemplar of military/civilian cooperation
By Julie Marlow, Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition
Won Hee-ryong, Jeju’s new Governor, has stated that Sydney Harbour is an example of a port comfortably combining civilian and military uses. This is highly debatable, particularly on past and present environmental evidence.
The new Governor also has suggested that the big cruise lines enjoy an accommodating relationship with Sydney Harbour’s naval base. This is simply wrong. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has made clear that guaranteed access to its terminals by cruise ships is incompatible with the ‘primacy’ of naval operations.
Sydney Harbour has been a naval base since 1788, when Britain’s Royal Navy first arrived and hoisted the British flag. The harbour’s colonial history is tragic, with its Indigenous people largely displaced within a few generations, many murdered or dead of introduced diseases.
A more recent disaster—Sydney Harbour’s dioxin contamination— also has a strong military component. Australian-produced Agent Orange, manufactured by Union Carbide at a site on the western reaches of the harbour, was sold to the US and Australian armed forces for chemical warfare during the Vietnam-America War. Carcinogenic and teratogenic dioxins, originating from the Union Carbide site, now extensively contaminate the harbour’s marine life and sediment, and will continue to do so for decades. Since 2006, commercial fishing in the harbour has been banned and recreational fishers are warned not to eat fish caught in its western waters, and to strictly limit what they eat of their catches in other areas.
Sydney Harbour’s sad history belies the claim made by Won Hee-ryong. So does the nature of Australia’s current military build-up. Most of the build-up is in the north of the country and along the west coast, following recommendations of the government’s 2012 Force Posture Review, developed in sympathy with the USA’s Global Force Posture Review. Nonetheless, Sydney and the east coast are not being spared. Naval activities in the harbour are increasing and these activities are resource-greedy and polluting. It is hard to see how such activities can easily dovetail with civilian uses of the port.
Military activities are among the most environmentally risky of all human activities, yet, here in Australia, assessment of defence environmental impacts is neither independent nor transparent. The Department of Defence has exceptionalist status in regard to environmental legislation, as set out in EPBC Act Policy Statement 1.2 Significant Impact Guidelines May 2006http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/significant-impact-guidelines-12-actions-or-impacting-upon-commonwealth-land-and-actions.
Sydney Harbour, home port for Australia’s newest and biggest warships
The most conspicuous military presence in Sydney Harbour is the Garden Island defence precinct, comprising the RAN’s Fleet East Base and facilities of arms corporations, Thales Australia in particular. Fleet East Base is Australia’s principle east coast naval base. Thales, providing extensive maintenance and other services to the base, operates Australia’s largest dry dock, which artificially connects Garden Island to the mainland. Other corporations have a presence on the base, such as the Naval Ship Management (Australia) Pty Ltd, a joint venture between UGL and Babcock.
Fleet East Base is the home port for at least 12 of Australia’s larger warshipshttps://www.navy.gov.au/establishments/fleet-base-east. The latest to arrive is Australia’s biggest ever warship, the 27, 000-tonne, 230-meter long ‘Nuship Canberra’, an amphibious assault ship called a Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD).
Under strong pressure from the US military, with which Australian armed forces are becoming ever more deeply integrated, the RAN is rapidly expanding. Garden Island’s share in the expansion is a substantial revamp to accommodate more large vessels, including a second LHD and three Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) equipped with Aegis Combat Systems (sister ships to the US AWDs to be docked at Jeju). Sydney’s AWD and LHD training and sustainment facilities are costing $170.2 million. Favoured status of Defence means legislative environmental approval for this work is not required.
The navy is also considering using Fleet Base East as a supplementary home port for the planned expanded submarine fleet.
Foreign, especially allied, warships are frequent visitors to Sydney, and given the US military’s so-called re-balance to the Asia-Pacific, likely to become more frequent. These vessels require berthing and servicing at Garden Island, adding to its environmental footprint. Further, despite the City of Sydney’s status as a nuclear-free zone, nuclear-powered and unconfirmed nuclear armed US Navy ships arrive without compunction. Years of protest by peace, anti-nuclear and green groups has been of no avail.
Increased naval operations at Garden Island as well as infrastructure upgrades inevitably add to existing pollution and disturbance of contaminated sediment. The NSW Government’s recent $21-million harbour decontamination project included attempts to clean up sediment around Garden Island. However, “heavy metal contamination in soils and shallow sediments around the [Garden Island] precinct” continues to be reported
Commercial/military clash over use of ship terminals
Berths at the Garden Island naval base are among the most accessible in the port, and the RAN keeps a jealous grip on them. Contrary to the suggestion by Jeju’s new Governor, RAN shares its berths with the commercial sector very reluctantly and on an ad hoc, temporary basis.
Today’s huge cruise ships are too tall to pass under Sydney Harbour Bridge. Since 2007, the cruise industry, the fastest growing segment of Australian tourism (and admittedly an environmentally undesirable industry), has been calling for guaranteed access to the navy’s terminals. In 2012, the Australian Government directed the navy to make available three berths to passenger ships per year, but this arrangement does not meet demand and is bound to stop as soon as the next procurement of naval vessels arrives.
In its April 2013 review of cruise ship access to Garden Island, the Department of Defence concluded: “The current and future naval capability requirements at Garden Island are essentially incompatible over the longer term except on the existing ad hoc arrangements that we are following. The provision of the guaranteed shared access sought by the cruise industry would impact on the primacy of the naval operations from Fleet Base East.”http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees.html?url=pwc/cpofitout/report%202/chapter5.htm
Sydney and eastern Australia is a climate change hotspot. Sea levels are rising and the East Australian Current is strengthening. Larger storm surges are predicted, as is the possibility of a southward shift of tropical cyclones.
Such hotspots are proliferating throughout the Asia-Pacific. Climate change is the outstanding security risk of the region, indeed the world. The environmental destructiveness that is caused by the construction of the Jeju Naval Base and, to a lesser extent by naval upgrades in Sydney, demonstrates that the military expansionism of the US and its allies ROK and Australia, can only compound the crisis that is facing our planet.