Military exercises put the Great Barrier Reef in danger – Media Release 15 July 2021


Military exercises put the Great Barrier Reef in danger

The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network is greatly concerned about the impact of current warfare exercises on environmentally and culturally significant sites, such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Talisman Sabre 2021 (TS21) is currently taking place in Australia and will see 17,000 Australian, U.S. and foreign troops engaging in combined land, sea and air manoeuvres.

Exercises as part of TS21 will take place along the Queensland and New South Wales coastline, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as well as other environmentally and culturally significant areas.

TS21 will involve amphibious assaults, movement of heavy vehicles, use of live ammunition as well as the use of U.S. nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapon capable vessels. These activities are incompatible with the protection of the environment and in particular the Great Barrier Reef.

This year, the ADF did not engage in a Public Environment Report process for TS21 and has not publicly released an environmental assessment for the areas in which TS21 will take place.

However, the Department of Defence did produce an environmental awareness video for visiting troops that promotes the military use of the Great Barrier Reef. The video reminds troops to consider the reef and not to litter.

Annette Brownlie, Chairperson of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network: “Talisman Sabre is a threat to the reef and to the environment. Just putting out a video is a completely inadequate response to the active environmental management required to protect the vulnerable reef. Particularly as environment minister, Sussan Ley, is on an international lobbying campaign to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the UNESCO World Heritage Committee ‘in danger’ list.”

“The objective of Talisman Sabre is to integrate the Australian military further into the U.S. military, which is ranked among the world’s worst polluters and is the world’s greatest organisational consumer of oil.”

“Let us not forget that during Talisman Sabre in 2013, the U.S. jettisoned four unarmed bombs on the Great Barrier Reef when they had difficulty dropping them on their intended target, Townshend Island.”


IPAN Media Liaison: 0428 973 324 or