Tanter, Richard: Fifty years on, Pine Gap should reform to better serve Australia

Richard Tanter

Fifty years on, Pine Gap should reform to better serve Australia‘, The Conversation, 9 December 2016

In the last 50 years, Pine Gap’s growth has burst its original security compound. There are now 33 separate antenna systems at Pine Gap [near Alice Springs], ten times the number it had when it became operational in 1970. The beating heart of the base, the Operations Building, is now five times the size of its 1970s original, with a floor space that would cover the playing field of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The article describes the surveillance operations conducted from Pine Gap. It is also involved in drone warfare, including assassinations. ‘Australia is hardwired into the US global surveillance system and military operations, with consequent legal and moral responsibilities and a default strategic position aligned to the US.’ Pine Gap could be used differently to serve Australian strategic interests.

However, given the almost comprehensive inability of recent Australian governments to separate Australian and American interests and to pursue an autonomous Australian foreign policy, the prospect of reform of Pine Gap is a distant one. It will most likely prove impossible for the foreseeable future.

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