Pine Gap: 50 years war

Paradigm Shift on FM 102.1 4ZZZ Friday 12pm Fri 7 Oct 2016.
[In memoriam Bryan Law]
Listen at

Pine Gap from the east. Photo: Nautilus Project

Over the past 50 years Pine Gap spy base has provided signals intelligence so that the US military could conduct cold wars against the Soviet Union and now China plus actual wars against the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Muslims in the ‘war on terror’.

On 26 September 2016 Andy, Tim and Franz walked onto Pine Gap to participate in a lament of the wars and deaths it has enabled.

They were all charged with entering a prohibited area, contrary to section 9(1) Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 (Cth). Andy filmed the lament and was also charged with use of a camera in a prohibited area, contrary to section 17(1) Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 (Cth. Maximum penalty for each offence is imprisonment for 7 years.


Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ fm 102.1 Fridays at noon) begins with a song ‘With my hammer’ by Seize the Day about a ploughshares action in Liverpool England in 1996. The song tells the story of how three women de-commissioned  a ground attack aeroplane to be used against the East Timorese in the Indonesian airforce:

“On 29 January 1996, three women entered the British Aerospace military base at Warton, Lancashire armed with household hammers. They smashed the radar nose and control panel of a Hawk ground-attack aircraft, which was part of an order of 24 aircraft destined for Indonesia. They called their act a Ploughshares Action, which was inspired by the biblical injunction (Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3) ‘to beat swords into ploughshares’.

A British activist named Chris Cole had performed a Ploughshares action on British Aerospace three years earlier. The three women – borough counsellor Joanna Wilson, gardener Lotta Kronlid and nurse Andrea Needham – were charged with illegal entry and criminal damage.

The fourth member of the group was environmental campaigner Angie Zelter, who had supported them and publicly announced her intention to carry out another Ploughshares Action. Zelter was arrested the next year while on her way to a public meeting. Their trial by jury began on 23 July 1997.

Solidarity activists organised blockades, sit-ins, teach-ins and other vigils, all of which combined to generate enormous negative publicity for the Indonesian occupation. Sensationally, they were all acquitted after the jury accepted their defense – they claimed they had acted lawfully because they were using ‘reasonable force’ to prevent the much greater crime of genocide. The entire episode served to highlight Indonesia’s human rights abuses, and the equally crucial factor of Western support for Indonesia’s actions.” [from Grounding a Hawk with a Hammer]


Deflated radome at Waihopi spy base in Aotearoa (NZ)

Tim describes how, in 2008, one of his cousins deflated the radomes on a New Zealand base at Waihopi exposing the secret satellite dishes inside. Beating swords into ploughshares. They were sued for $1.2M damage to the base. One was a dominican priest sworn to poverty. NZ dropped the charges.

Franz describes how his father Jim has been involved in the anti-war movement and Franz has grown up going to demonstrations.

Ploughshares is a symbolic act which becomes an artwork. The three pacifists describe the hike onto the base at Pine Gap took the form of a lament. It was hastily done while on the run from the police and filmed using live-streaming.


They play Joe Pug Bury me far (from my uniform)

“War is older than mankind
But it’s younger than grace
Won’t you bury me far from my uniform
From the iron cross medals I would’ve worn
From the statues that sisters and widows mourn
From the newspaper clippin’s and microform
From Geneva, The Hague and Nuremberg
From the sex of this world that I’ll no longer taste”

Followed by “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” by Phil Ochs:

Oh, I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marching anymore


Andy discusses the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) conference held in Alice Springs in September 2016 and recent protests against the US occupation in Germany.

They talk about other bases: Exmouth in WA, and at Shoalwater Bay in Qld where the US runs war games every two years.


Peace movement against global war.
History of Australian war resistance. 100th anniversary of the Conscription referendum for World War I in 1916 – the conscription referendum (and the referendum to ban the Communist Party) were the two most contentious referenda in Australian history . Mass protests were the response to past wars like Vietnam and Iraq. Nowadays war is invisible even though over 1 million people have died in the Middle East during the recent conflict.

Franz  Dowling plays Bob Dylan’s Masters of War leaving out the last stanza (in deference to his role as a peace pilgrim).

Scott Ludlam (Greens Senator) speaks from the gates of Pine Gap and talks about how to break free of the Lib-Labs condoning the US alliance. ‘There are some good ones in parliament.‘ Ludlam says that all this is done in our name, the war in the Middle East and elsewhere. During the first week of the Iraq war a couple of people cimbed the Opera House and wrote “No War”.

Andy plays Ryan Harvey’s Its Bigger than a War:

It’s bigger than a war it’s the day to day
Capitalism’s price to pay
It’s a system based on murder and the packaging of fear
The swallowing of lies and the cranking of the gears

Tim talks about not paying taxes used to fund the the war machine.

George Brandis to decide whether to invoke the Defence Special Undertaking Act 1952.

Show closes with a song about Chelsea Manning, a hero of the Paradigm Shift.
Kevin Devine ‘Private First Class‘:

Her conscience barked as she watched our Apache
Cowboy-kill civilian Iraqis
Their laughter rolled like tanks over bodies
She thought: “What if everyone could see what I see?”


Seize The Day – With my hammer
Joe Pug – Bury me far (from my uniform)
Phil Ochs – I ain’t marching anymore
Franz Dowling – Masters of war
Ryan Harvey – It’s bigger than a war
Kevin Devine – Private first class

Jim Dowling, Bryan Law, Adele Goldie and Donna Mulhearn – the original Pine Gap Four after their successful appeal on charges of trespass under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952


Pine Gap: Nautilus Institute explores Alice Springs joint defence facility
Spy base attackers in court
A bit of the “Pilgrims Lament” overlooking Pine Gap.
The Long March
Pine Gap on Trial
Richard Tanter on Pine Gap
Liberating Pine Gap
Don’t Just Blame The Guards: Don Dale Is What Systemic Violence Looks like
Background on the court ruling of #closepinegap protesters
In Defence of Australia
Pine Gap: 50 years war

3 thoughts on “Pine Gap: 50 years war”

  1. Apropos Scott Ludlam’s speech at the IPAN conference:

    Me on Fri 24-10-2016: Hi, is there a place where one can see videos from this year’s conference?

    Independent and Peaceful Australia Network: Should be on the IPAN website in due course…


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