Gillard, Abbott should heed Australia’s right to an independent foreign policy in its own region

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Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said the Gillard government should ensure the Parliament debates the US military build-up planned for the NT and the alternative of Australia charting an independent course in the Asia Pacific this century.

"President Obama, who was very warmly welcomed to our nation's capital, today delivered an important speech about America's increased involvement in the Pacific and the economic and military imperatives that lie behind the US plans for Australia," Senator Brown said in Canberra.

"In their acquiescence to these plans, the Australian government and opposition are giving up an historic opportunity to take an independent profile in international affairs. This should not be done lightly. Australia has its own peaceful economic, environmental and cultural interests across the region to pursue, from India to Indonesia to Japan and China."

"The Greens want the Government to put the details of the US military build-up before the public and parliament. The presence of nuclear-armed and powered warships in Darwin harbour, increased use of bombing ranges by the US Air Force and a future presence that extends beyond 2500 US Marines are matters warranting full and mature consideration by Australia's parliament."

"The expansion of military ties with the US, supported by the Gillard government and the opposition, even though details are not available, is not the only or best way to a safer future. Taking sides between the military might of the US and the growing power, including a nuclear arsenal, of China is not the only option."

"President Obama has described nuclear proliferation as a regional challenge, which further underscores the hazard of Australia selling uranium to India, China, Russia and, potentially, Indonesia," Senator Brown said.

After the speech, Senator Brown asked President Obama to support a future nomination of Antarctica for World Heritage status. The President said he "would look at it".