CANBERRA —Thousands of Australians took to the streets on Saturday in the town of Port Kembla in the east protesting government plans to build nuclear-powered submarines.
The submarines are to be built within the framework of a deal with the United States and Britain at a cost of $368 billion. The demonstrations involved some 5,000 people in Port Kembla, where the submarines might be built.
Organizers of the demonstration declared opposition to the plan arguing that it would obstruct other plans to establish renewable energy facilities in the eastern region.
The deal with the US and Britain to manufacture the nuclear-powered submarines was announced last March.
More than a thousand people have gathered on the streets of Wollongong to protest plans to establish a local base for the nuclear-powered submarines at the heart of the AUKUS agreement.
Port Kembla was named alongside Newcastle and Brisbane as three potential locations for a new east coast base by the former Morrison government.
Members of the Australian Labor Party and union representatives joined members of Wollongong Against War and Nukes (WAWAN) at Port Kembla on Saturday to protest the proposed base.
Event organizers said they are seeking to “send a clear message that (they) don’t want a nuclear submarine base here or anywhere else”.
The protest comes on the same day that acting Prime Minister Richard Marles announced the establishment of a new agency to deliver the nation’s nuclear program.
Marles said the new Australian Submarine Agency (ASA) would ensure delivery of the government’s “commitment” to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
“The ASA will be responsible and accountable for delivering the ambitious program to acquire Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines,” he said in a statement.
“A specialized and dedicated regulator … will ensure we have the highest standards of nuclear safety and radiological protection across the life cycle of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines.”
The Albanian government announced it would make a decision on an east coast base later this decade, following a strategic review last month.
The government decided it would consider other sites for the submarine base as well as the three put forward by Scott Morrison last year. — Agencies