Above: US Marines in the Top End. From their Facebook page.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir, The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) has written to Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds, pointing out the risk of allowing 2,500 USA marine personnel to start arriving in Darwin next month.
Restrictions on non-Australians arriving in the country should be applied consistently across the board. There should be no special exceptions made on the basis of whether or not an individual happens to be a member of the USA’s armed services.
Any marines in Darwin should immediately be returned to the USA, and no further marines permitted in Australia in the foreseeable future.
We note that USA forces in Europe already have cases of COVID-19 amongst their number (reported in the Washington times on 20 March). Clearly, military personnel are no more or less likely than ordinary citizens to contract or transmit the disease, which is indiscriminate in who it infects.
We have therefore called on the Minister to preclude the arrival of the marines scheduled to arrive in Darwin from the beginning of April, and asked her to indicate that they will not be coming during this time of crisis.
Furthermore, the movement of foreign personnel through Pine Gap is particularly urgent for the people of Alice Springs, who include many vulnerable indigenous people, but is also critically important for Australians generally.
The emergence and spread of the COVID-19 requires that the Government take this step to protect the nation from the spread of Coronavirus.
In IPAN’s view, national security involves a lot more than mere military security and protecting the health of the nation should be the priority at this critical time.
We look forward to hearing a public announcement on this matter in coming days.
Justin Tutty, spokesperson
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
Does non-citizen travel ban apply to US personnel at Pine Gap?