Peace movement rallies outside Dutton’s Luncheon in Brisbane

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service, and during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. – Major General Smedley D. Butler in 1931.

On 18 March 2022 outside the Hilton Hotel there was a rally for Peace organised by Just Peace while Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, was speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce at a $2,000 luncheon inside the Hilton Hotel Brisbane. Here is what people at the rally had to say.

Here we are today, meeting gathering on Aboriginal land, land that was never seated. And we are also gathering at a venue that the defence minister, Mr. Dutton will be addressing a lunch of representatives of military corporations, military corporations, who are the ones who are really the only winners in war and militarism.

As we speak, millions of people have been displaced from their homes, in Ukraine, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen.

We’re meeting here today to say war is not the answer. We must, we must find another way. Because we’re on the brink of world war three. It’s a very sobering thought. And yet the escalation of militarism that’s going on around the world today can only lead us to a very, very dangerous point.

St Mary’s Choir at Peace Rally outside Brisbane Hilton

So thank you all for coming today to protest the defence minister, whipping up war and playing into the hands of the weapons corporations whose shares are going through the roof right at this moment. (Shame)

We have some great representatives of the Brisbane community here to speak today. And I’d like to start off the speaking order. With Ross Gwyther. Ross is one of the representatives from Queensland Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), a national network of unions, faith organizations, community groups, political groups. So Ross is going to speak to you and then we’ve got about half a dozen people lined up to speak after us so welcome Ross.

Annette Brownlie
Just Peace
18 Mar 2022

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IPAN Talk at Dutton Rally  March 18 2022

Ross Gwyther

I would like to start by expressing our solidarity with indigenous peoples of Australian in their long struggle for justice, for a treaty and for recognition of their continuing sovereignty over this land.

I would also like to express, as part of the Australian peace movement, that we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and Russia. We are united in our common demands Peace in Ukraine – for Russia Out! NATO Out!

We in IPAN have called for an immediate ceasefire and genuine negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to bring peace and justice to the people of Ukraine.   The working people of Ukraine have the right to self-determination and sovereignty, to determine their country’s future.  They suffer as pawns in a proxy war between the United States, NATO and Russia.  The invasion of the Ukraine is unacceptable in international law.  And equally, we need to condemn the continued military expansion of NATO which precipitated this crisis.

Why are we gathering here today? 

Well we are here because Defence Minister and cheer-leader for war, Peter Dutton, is at a lunch function here at the Hilton Hotel.

We are here because the American Chamber of Commerce are lunching with him today.  They boast that they look for “opportunities for businesses to enter the national security supply chain or enhance their engagement across key areas including cyber, space, AI, and quantum?”

We are here because there are probably some representatives at this lunch of the five biggest big US weapons  manufacturers – like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrup Grumman.  They  together sell $200 billion worth of arms each year.

We are here because the President in Australia of the second biggest of these multinationals, Boeing, is non other than the former Defence Minister, Brendon Nelson – another cheer leader for war and destruction.

But we are also here to stop those weapons manufacturing corporations, along with the other parts of big corporate America, enmesh us in Australia even more firmly into the war fighting strategies of the United States.   The decisions that lead to that, happen not in the halls of parliament  or in Government offices. The decisions are made in the boardrooms and lunchrooms where political leaders are feted and dined by the big end of town.  This lunch at the Hilton epitomises that decision making process.

I would like to quote a famous speech by Major General Smedley D. Butler in 1931.  He was one of the most decorated Marines in American History.  He said

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service, and during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen 16 Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.

In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

We in Australia are being dragged into that world.  There are three different outcomes that this close connection between the Australian Government and the US weapons industry has led to:

Firstly there is an on-going campaign to demonize China.  A campaign to treat China as our enemy.  A campaign to threaten and intimidate China.  It is being led and promoted by the United States military industrial complex.  But they are using our  Australian Government and Australian people as pawns in this contention.

We know what happens to pawns.  Those of us who play chess are very aware.  Pawns are the first pieces to be moved on the chess board.  They are the first to be sacrificed.  They do not count for nearly as much as the other pieces in the “back line” of the chess board.  Our Federal Government – and it has to be said at this time the Federal ALP as well, are willing accomplices in us being used as pawns by American corporations trying desperately to stop the social and economic rise of China.   IF we continue this path, it can only end very badly.  Because it can only end in war.

The second outcome we have seen is building concrete alliances against China.   We have the QUAD alliance – Japan, India, the United States and Australia.  This alliance will add fuel to the fire of 800 US bases around the world, with close to 200 thousand US troops stationed at these bases – bases that mostly are encircling Russia and China.   Bases that have no purpose in defending the continental United States.

Now we have AUKUS – Australia, United Kingdom and United States – an agreement for Australia to obtain nuclear propelled submarines, as well as stationing more troops, ships and planes in Australia, upgrading the already considerable spying capabilities of Pine Gap and North West Cape.

The third outcome we hear just last week – Brisbane may well be a  nuclear submarine base on the east coast of Australia.   The people of Brisbane will become a prime nuclear target. 

The Quad and AUKUS agreements are imitations of NATO in the Asia Pacific.  Do we want the Asia-Pacific to be turned into a war zone of contention by big powers, constantly threatening the people and countries in this region?  Do we want Australia to be complicit in more wars of aggression?

How do we deal with these three terrible outcomes of the sorts of decisions and agreements made at lunches like the one we stand outside of now?   There is only one course that will turn this juggernaut around.  That is the course of continuing  to build a broad mass anti-war, peace movement.  We in the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network encourage to join with others in collectively building this dialog amongst the people. 

In Brisbane there are some very active and supportive member groups of IPAN – from the Quakers, to Friends of the Earth, to the Union of Australian Women, to unions such as the  MUA and  ETU, as well as many others.  If you would like to join IPAN, which now has over 50 peace, faith, community and trade unions as affiliates, come and speak to us after, and sign the contact sheet.

Together and united, we can win this struggle!. 

Ross Gwyther
IPAN
18 Mar 2022

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Dutton luncheon rally speech – Kristin Perissinotto

I would first like to acknowledge that we are on stolen land of the Jagera and Turabul People and that their sovereignty was never ceded. The Electrical Trades Union fully supports the Uluru Statement From The Heart and an enshrined voice for First Nations in the constitution – an initiative the current government doesn’t and apparently won’t support. And the reason for this is that the Liberal National government has no regard for genuine support for the community. 

They’re focussed on fear mongering propaganda that tells their voter base that we need billions of dollars worth of military equipment instead of spending on women’s safety, community programs, support for refugees and people seeking asylum, affordable housing, and services that legitimately serve the community. 

This government doesn’t consult. This government doesn’t support. This government doesn’t ask. This government tells. Peter Dutton is in this building right now TELLING an audience about a business opportunity. He got a few tips from Scotty from Marketing and he’s talking about how much money big businesses can make through militarisation. Dutton is in there right now liaising with reps from huge corporations that manufacture military equipment. Weapons that kill and equipment that enables killing. And he’s doing that in our name. 

What he and the LNP haven’t spent any time doing is finding out  whether or not we might WANT a nuclear future, whether we want a naval base in our backyard. Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison have been warning us about uncertainty in the region and increased risk, going back to the old Liberal playbook and using the catch cry of national security – but they won’t talk about the increased risk that nuclear poses.

They want to talk about the jobs the proposed naval base will provide, but they won’t talk about who will get those jobs, they won’t talk about how many jobs it will be, and they won’t talk about which businesses will benefit from the base. 

They’ll put fear in us about a vague threat of ‘China’ without providing any context or genuine information. They’ll tell us that riding on the coattails of the US will protect us, but they won’t say from what. The term ‘national security’ has been said so many times that Peter Dutton is probably muttering it in his sleep. It’s a marketing phrase – an election cry. It’s not a promise or a commitment, far from it. 

Because when the Libs talk about national security, they’re talking about keeping refugees out. People who have been displaced from what they deem the ‘unwelcome’ countries like Afghanistan. The ongoing terror in Afghanistan is just one example of Australia’s alliance with the US in action. We have blood on our hands when it comes to the lost lives of innocent Afghan people. And the government dragged its feet when it came to accepting refugees. 

When the Libs talk about national security, they’re talking about deporting visa holders who have been jailed due to traffic violations. Visa holders who haven’t lived in their home countries since they were children have been sent back to a strange land after being released from prison. First Nations People have been among the 4000 people deported by this government, many while Peter Dutton was at the helm.

When the Libs talk about national security, they are ignoring the real insecurity faced by Australians. Families who have no home. People who have to choose between putting petrol in their cars or food on the table. Workers who’ve had no choice but to work for exploitative labour hire companies, often working for less than the employee beside them. Sometimes unable to qualify for a home loan due to their insecure employment. These companies can fire workers with an hour’s notice. The LNP MADE that possible with the Building Code. The LNP has enabled insecurity. 

And the biggest insecurity of all: the climate. The LNP have made no genuine moves toward climate action in this country. The government continues to increase the spend on military equipment, but has dedicated very little to climate action and a renewable future.

Dutton and his LNP cronies are capitalising on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to pedal propaganda about securing our country. There are so many layers to unpack about how disturbing this is, but I’ll just focus on one.

It’s been very  interesting, watching the manner in which our government reacts to the invasion of Ukraine. It’s a horrific thing of course, and every unionist stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. But where is this outpouring from the government in relation to ongoing wars in other countries? I mentioned Afghanistan earlier – how quickly did that disappear from our news cycle? How quickly did that drop off the agenda of taking points from the prime minister? How often has the occupation of Palestine been in mainstream media since 1967, the first year of the aphartied? All we’ve heard in months is a vague tweet from Scott Morrison’s media advisor about the warm phonecall he had with the Israeli leader. 

Where’s the outrage when a country of people who are not christian, who are not white, live in terror and war? The people of Ukraine who look and live like many of us are given support, sympathy, and resources. The refugees from countries in the Middle East are criminalised for exercising their legal right to seek asylum in what they think is going to be a welcoming and multicultural country. 

War is fodder for this government. A marketing tactic. A sales opportunity for big businesses. A dog whistle for white nationalist voters. This government doesn’t care about security – national or otherwise. They care about winning an election. And the next one, and the next one. 

Kristin Perisonotto
ETU
18 Mar 2022

One thought on “Peace movement rallies outside Dutton’s Luncheon in Brisbane”

  1. Thankyou Ian for your time and expertise is creating this post and the podcast. Today at the national press club Craig Foster repeated much of what was shared at the rally. It was a great speech about humanity and how we are such a long way from respecting human rights.

    Liked by 1 person

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