Former Labor Minister at odds with his party over US alliance, nuclear subs

AUKUS and nuclear subs are an ‘election stunt’ – former Labor Minister, Rod Welford

Former Labor Attorney General and Environment Minister in Queensland told a crowd on International Human Rights day yesterday in Brisbane Square that the federal government purchase of nuclear submarines is ‘a stunt’.

“It is an election stunt. And there’ll be plenty more election stunts like this, designed to play to the fears of the Australian people in the months ahead in the run up to next year’s Federal election.” Mr Welford said. Yesterday’s rally of about 100 people was part of similar gatherings happening across the nation.

Mr Welford called on people to vote to change the government next year. He said:

“We are one year short of 50 years ago, on the 2nd of December 1972, Australians elected a government that took the first tentative steps to building this nation to be a proud, peaceful and independent nation in the worldWe recognized China for the first time in our short history, we played a bigger role in the United Nations, we played enormous roles in bringing peace to Cambodia in years subsequent, and Australia’s reputation in the world diplomatically, economically and internationally, was enhanced as a result.

Mr Welford went on to say “the only way that change Australia and change the world towards a peaceful path is to reestablish Australia as an independent and a peaceful nation. And we will only do that if we change the government next year.”

Mr Welford who was a minister in the Beattie and Bligh Labor governments made no mention of successive Australian Labor government’s lack of independence from the United States … willingly supporting Indonesian invasion of East Timor, Australian involvement in the first Gulf War in 1991, Labor’s support for the murderous war in Afghanistan leading to war crimes and Labor’s Opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, throwing his support behind the AUKUS submarine deal, saying a close relationship with the US is among the “three pillars” of a Labor government’s future foreign policy.

Ian Curr
11 Dec 2021

The transcript of Mr Welford’s speech is below.

Rod Welford

SPEAKERS

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General, Peter Catt, Tom Bramble – Socialist Alternative

Peter Catt – Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane

These sort of gatherings are happening across the nation. Today is International Human Rights day. So we need to be mindful of the fact that many human rights will be trampled on by this project. And that’s been the history of our alliances, and many nations and suffered the consequences of our hubris and war mongering. Our next speaker is Associate Professor Rob Welford Rob is a former Queensland environment, Environment Minister and Attorney General. He’s now adjunct professor at Griffith University, and vice president of the UNAA Queensland (United Nations Association of Australia). His main professional interests are in effective government, so he would be busy boy environment, sustainable business and ethical organizational culture.Would you make him welcome.

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

Thank you, Peter, can I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gathered the Jaeger and pourable people and acknowledge their ancestors past and those emerging the leaders of the Aboriginal people emerging friends. We are one year short of 50 years ago, on the 2nd of December 1972, Australians elected a government that took the first tentative steps to building this nation to be a proud, peaceful and independent nation in the world.

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

It was the essence of those three years of Whitlam government that brought us into a more international footing. We recognized China for the first time in our short history, we played a bigger role in the United Nations, we played enormous roles in bringing peace to Cambodia in years subsequent, and Australia’s reputation in the world diplomatically, economically and internationally, was enhanced as a result. And in consequence of that kind of leadership, Australians themselves had the opportunity for the first time not to feel as though they were hiding behind that the skirt tails of, of a foreign power on the other side of the, on the other side of Asia or on the other side of the Pacific. But a true an independent Australia where Australians can stand up and be proud of themselves and the contribution all of us can make to the world.

Goff Whitlam speaking with Chairman Mao

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

And what an amazing contribution we’ve made since that time, opening up to the world in so many ways, waves and waves of immigration that has brought people to this country and enriched our country, Malaysians, Indonesians, Chinese, all of Asia, Indians have come here and contributed to the great nation we now are the nation that is multicultural, and in its essence peaceful. The Australian people don’t want war. The Australian people don’t care for nuclear weapons. Australians are fundamentally a peaceful people who want to live collectively among one another, you know, in a world of peace, and in an in a globe where peace is encouraged and collaboration is our legacy.

Tom Bramble – Socialist Alternative 

(interjection) What about the aboriginal genocide?

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

What has happened in those 50 years since that time, is that we have become essentially immersed as an Asian nation. We have traded with Asia. Most of the most of the benefits we in we enjoy today. All the trinkets we surround ourselves with in our homes are made and purchased from Asia.

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

The transition to renewable energy, which Australians have taken up more rapidly, more enthusiastically than just about any people in the world has been supported by the manufacturing capacity of our neighbors in Asia.

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

Its our collaboration with Asia that’s made us the rich and affluent and healthy people that we are and yet with this AUKUS pact, we have a government that is turning its back on 50 years of internationalism and 50 years of progress towards peace, which has been the role that Australia has played in this world.

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

We are part of it Asia, whether we like it or not, it is our geography. And no political leader, no stale, pale, and hopeless political leader who pretends otherwise, is going to make any difference to where we are in this country. We have 10s of 1000s of Asian Australians living here now from all parts of Asia. And they are every bit a part of Australia and the peaceful Australia that we’ve become, as anyone who is non Asian in this country. We owe it to them. And we owe it to ourselves, to respect their presence, and to respect the fact that the integration of multicultural Australia has shown us up pathway to peace, that we can be an example to the world. (applause)

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

The position that the Australian government has put us in is effectively to say, in symbolic terms, that Australia should be on a war footing with China. Do they not think there are enough existential threats to the globe at peace in this world, climate change not being the least of them, that we need to add another threat of nuclear conflict? Is there not an ounce, a scintilla of common sense to prevail in the halls of the Parliament’s of this nation to pull back from this ridiculous posturing? This ridiculous, launching into an old world, Anglo Saxon perspective of our region, which is denying the relative reality which we are all already living. We can do much better than this. We must do much better than this. And I’m sure Australians when put to the test will do much better than this.

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

Let’s face it, The current Australian government won’t see this ridiculous 200 billion or $100 billion dollar exercise through …. they won’t be around in 40 years when nuclear subs are either obsolete or never delivered. This will be Australia’s at the Australian taxpayers contribution to the American fleet if it ever happens. It will not be Australian, it will never be Australian. It will never be controlled or owned by Australia and it will never defend Australia from anything. It is the height of political cynicism by a government desperate for re election after eight years of scandals, of rorts, of corruption and of resignations. It is an election stunt. And there’ll be plenty more election stunts like this, designed to play to the fears of the Australian people in the months ahead in the run up to next year’s Federal election. It’s our job today. Just to encourage Australians to help Australians see through that cynicism and when they go to the ballot box next year. See that the only way that change Australia and change the world towards a peaceful path is to reestablish Australia as an independent and a peaceful nation. And we will only do that if we change the government next year.

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

One last point. Look around us. Who do we share this great country with our Asian friends. Our friends from all over the world. Our Latino friends, our British friends. Our European friends, our Indian friends are African friends. And right now in the run up to Christmas the last 12 days to Christmas. All of us are thinking not of war, not of nuclear weapons. But have of a Christmas where we can enjoy the peace and goodwill that Christmas is about. This festive season is a festive season we’re all Australian should be reminded that we are here as part of a world in a global village which we can either work together to enhance or work against each other to destroy. I don’t believe Australians want war. Put your hand up today. If you want to be on a war footing with any country in the World. Of course we don’t. Let’s strive for peace. Let’s strive for a better world. And let’s send a message to our Australian government that this path is not the Australian way. The Australian way is to be an independent and peaceful nation, which plays its role in the world, bringing peace to the world.

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