Groups flay Downer, welcome senate missile defence resolution

March 3, 2001

Joint Press Release
Friends of the Earth Australia
Anti-Bases Campaign

Friends of the Earth Australia and the Anti-Bases Campaign have welcomed a resolution passed by the Senate yesterday while condemning comments made at the same time by Alexander Downer that indicate the Howard government may be hardening its attitude to the 1972 ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) treaty, to allow the development of the controversial National Missile Defence program.

In Canberra yesterday, Senator Vicki Bourne of the Democrats and Laurie Ferguson of the ALP together with John Hallam of Friends of the Earth launched a letter signed by 32 federal parliamentarians and 44 community groups including the Uniting Church, the ACTU, National Union of Students and the Australian Conservation Foundation, condemning National Missile Defence and demanding that the government reject the proposal.

According to the groups: "Yesterday's Senate resolution on Missile Defence goes the right way and Mr. Downers comments go the wrong way. Australia has on the whole a good record in advocating measures to facilitate the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide, a measure to which the nuclear weapons states are legally committed. Missile Defence and the abrogation of the ABM treaty puts all the hard-won gains of the last decade in nuclear weapons abolition in jeopardy, and creates the risk of another arms-race. Mr. Downers comments reveal that he either doesn't understand that or that he doesn't care about it." "Yesterday, 32 parliamentarians and 44 community groups, and the Senate itself demonstrated that they do care about the global nuclear weapons abolition agenda. They spoke sense but Mr. Downer doesn't seem to be listening."

For further information contact:

John Hallam Friends of the Earth Sydney 9517 3903 9810 2598

Hannah Middleton - 0411 409 954