Mobilising opposition to AUKUS – The Marrickville Declaration

Feb 22, 2024
Photo the words NO NUCLEAR SUBS /NO AUKUS / NO WAR ! Sprayed on wall near Marrickville Station. Image: Supplied

Community opposition to the AUKUS project finds expression in a Sydney suburb.

Back in March 2023, a public meeting was held in the Town Hall of the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, under the title “Can War be Avoided or Will Our Peace be Shattered?”. That meeting took place just a few days after the AUKUS agreement was finalised in San Diego, California. It was very well-attended, demonstrating strong opposition to the AUKUS project among members of the general public. The location of the meeting (just a stone’s throw from Prime Minister Albanese’s local office) gave it particular resonance.

Building on the strength of feeling displayed in 2023, AUKUS has recently been the topic of discussion in Marrickville, again. A meeting there on February 3 brought representatives of more than 30 community groups together, for the purpose of discussing AUKUS and mobilising and encouraging public opposition to it. The groups were drawn from Sydney and surrounding areas, including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong. The irony of meeting in the PM’s own Grayndler electorate did not go unnoticed.

Those present shared their many concerns. Whilst there were various, differing reasons for doing so, the consensus reached was that AUKUS is entirely contrary to Australia’s best interests, so deserves concerted opposition.

Amongst the reasons expressed was the fact that some do not even recognise the term “AUKUS”. Information about what is in the AUKUS agreement is not widely known, and ordinary people have few details about its many implications for them. Most Australians remain unaware of the risks and dangers that it brings. At the meeting, this was blamed on the government’s obsessive secrecy about the project.

To capture the meetings feelings, a resolution was passed unanimously. That resolution is now being carried forward as “The Marrickville Declaration”. It summarises the concerns of the groups who joined the meeting and indicates their resolve to campaign actively against it.

The meeting formed a committee to mobilise opposition to AUKUS and war. It sees itself as the Sydney-based arm of a developing, national campaign, aimed at bringing about the abandonment the AUKUS project and movement towards a peaceful and independent future.

The Marrickville Declaration.

Participants at this meeting will work together to keep Australia out of war and stop preparation for war, through campaigning for an end to AUKUS. The huge public spend on nuclear submarines, and the open-ended commitment to foreign military priorities, are to the detriment of addressing urgent community and social needs and priorities for a resilient, safe and peaceful Australian society.

We agree that the AUKUS agreement has grave significance for Australia because:

  • it leads the nation away from peace by preparing it for war;
  • it creates enemies, where Australia should have none; 
  • its exorbitant cost takes funds away from much-needed social programs;
  • it has opened the way for an arms race in the Asian region;
  • much of its detail that should be in the public domain remains secret and unavailable to the public;
  • it endangers Australia and jeopardises our security through making us a nuclear target, positioning us as an enemy of countries with which we should be maintaining good working relations, and through the risk of nuclear contamination;
  • it makes Australia complicit in the deployment of weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and conventional, the use of which will be inevitably directed largely at civilian populations and infrastructure;
  • it is an affront to Australia’s Pacific neighbours and our commitment to a nuclear free Pacific under the Treaty of Rarotonga (the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty);
  • it critically detracts from the need for climate action, global warming being our real security threat, and
  • it would impose high level nuclear waste dumping on the lands of First Nations Peoples.

We conclude that AUKUS is entirely contrary to the interests of the Australian nation and its people.

We therefore resolve to:

  • oppose AUKUS through all non-violent means available;
  • initiate a concerted campaign with the objective of stopping the whole AUKUS agreement;
  • open this campaign to all individuals and organisations sharing this objective, and
  • promote peace, instead of encouraging preparation for war.

We call on the Australian government to:

  • provide to the public full details of the AUKUS agreement, as it stands, including its scope, ramifications, timing and cost, and
  • initiate a thorough investigation into appropriate ways for ensuring national security, including through the development of a truly independent foreign and military policy.


Article updated February 29, 2024.

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