Australia has risked a diplomatic bust-up with its closest ally America after rejecting a plan to base a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier near Perth, the capital of Western Australia.And why wouldn't they want the jobs that a new or expanded naval base would bring?
Defence Minister Stephen Smith ruled out the proposal yesterday, saying Australia does not want to host U.S. bases.
The plan, put forward in a Pentagon-commissioned report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggested repositioning U.S. forces in the region by relocating an aircraft carrier from the U.S. East Coast.
Mr Smith said that while negotiations were underway to increase U.S. navy access to Australia's Indian Ocean base, HMAS Stirling, it would never become a U.S. military base.
'We have made it crystal clear from the first moment - we don't have United States military bases in Australia. We don't see the need for that,' Mr Smith told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.
China - Australia's most important trade partner - has blasted the closer bilateral military ties as a return the Cold War divisions that risk the peace and security of the region.
Hugh White, head of Australian National University's Strategic and Defense Studies Center, noted that American combat troops had not been based in Australia since World War II and said that was unlikely to change in the future.
He said Chinese objections were the major reason why Australia was unlikely to ever allow U.S. bases on its soil.
'The government was surprised that China reacted as negatively as it has to the decision to have Marines rotate deployments through Darwin, and I think they'll be very careful not to risk further displeasure from China by doing anything that suggests they're supporting a U.S. military buildup in Asia,' Mr White said.